readings

Between the Fires

Author: 
Rabbi Arthur Waskow

We are the generation that stands
between the fires;
Behind us the flame and smoke
that rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima;
And from the burning of the Amazon forest;
Before us the nightmare of a Flood of Fire,
the flame and the smoke that consume all Earth.

It is our task to make from fire not an all-consuming blaze
but the light in which we see each other fully.
All of us different,
all of us bearing
One Spark.

We light these fires to see more clearly
that the Earth and all who live as part of it
are not for burning.
We light these fires to see more clearly
the rainbow in our many-colored faces.

Blessed is the One within the many.
Blessed are the Many who make one.

Listen to the Air

Author: 
John (Fire) Lame Deer

Listen to the air.
You can hear it, feel it,
smell it, taste it.
Woniya wakan, the holy air,
which renews all by its breath.
Woniya wakan, spirit, life, breath, renewal,
it means all that.
We sit together, don’t touch,
but something is there,
we feel it between us
as a presence.
A good way to start thinking
about nature
is to talk to it,
talk to the rivers, to the lakes,
to the winds,
as to our relatives.

Even After All This Time

Author: 
Hafiz

Even
After
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,

"You owe me."

Look
What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.

The Canticle of the Sun

Author: 
Saint Francis of Assisi

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility.

(translated by Bill Barrett from the Umbrian text of Assisi codex.)

Could You Embrace That?

Author: 
Thomas Aquinas

I said to God, “Let me love you.”
And He replied, “Which part?”

“All of you, all of you.” I said.

“Dear” God spoke, “You are as a mouse wanting to impregnate
a tiger who is not even in heat. It is a feat way
beyond your courage and strength.
You would run from me
if I removed my
mask.”

I said to God again,

“Beloved I need to love you – every aspect, every pore.” 

And this time God said,

“There is a hideous blemish on my body,
though it is such an infinitesimal part of my Being-
could you kiss that if it were revealed?"

“I will try, Lord, I will try.”

And then God said,
“That blemish is all the hatred and
cruelty in this
world.”

Water Flows

Author: 
Thich Nhat Hahn

Water flows from high in the mountains.
Water runs deep in the Earth.
Miraculously, water comes to us,
and sustains us all.

Water flows over these hands.
May I use them skillfully
to preserve our precious planet.

Breathing Space (Fire)

Author: 
Judy Brown

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire
grows
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

Blessed Be the Wind

Author: 
Lyall Watson

Blessed be the Wind!

Without wind, most of Earth would be uninhabitable. The tropics would grow so unbearably hot that nothing could live there, and the rest of the planet would freeze. Moisture, if any existed, would be confined to the oceans, and all but the fringe of the great continents along a narrow temperate belt, would be desert. There would be no erosion, no soil, and for any community that managed to evolve despite these rigors, no relief from suffocation by their own waste products.

But with the wind, Earth comes truly alive. Winds provide the circulatory and nervous systems of the planet, sharing out energy information, distributing both warmth and awareness, making something out of nothing.

All wind’s properties are borrowed. Our knowledge of it comes at secondhand, but it comes strongly. And this combination of a force that cannot be apprehended, but nevertheless has an undeniable existence, was our first experience of the spiritual. A crack in the cosmos that widened to let the tide of consciousness flow through.

We are the fruits of the wind-and have been seeded, irrigated, and cultivated by its craft.

Teach Your Children

Author: 
Attributed to Chief Seattle

Teach your children what we have taught our children,

that the Earth is our mother.

Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the children of the Earth.

If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

This we know:

the Earth does not belong to us -

we belong to the Earth.

This we know:

All things are connected like the blood which unites one family.

All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the Earth -

befalls the children of the Earth.

We did not weave the web of life - 

We are merely a strand in it.

Whatever we do to the web,

we do to ourselves.

The Imperfectionist

Author: 
Forrest Church

The reason I’ve been able to produce

so much is that I’m not a perfectionist

– I’m an imperfectionist.

 

I’m confident that everything I say

can be improved upon by others,

and that’s my great strength,

because I know that it won’t been improved upon by others

unless I take the first step.

 

When we only do things which please us,

or don’t frighten us,

after a while fewer and fewer things please us.

 

Over time, our circle of options diminishes

until we are prisoners in gardens of our own making.

 

The more decisions you make in your life,

the more times you act,

the more certain it is that you will be wrong.

 

To be fulfilled we need to recognize,

all of us,

that the world doesn’t owe us a living

– rather we owe the world a living.

 

And in the brief time that is given us,

we must somehow learn to give ourselves away.

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