Humility: Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

Miracles: In the Storm, a poem by Mary Oliver

In the Storm
by Mary Oliver

Some black ducks
were shrugged up
on the shore.
It was snowing

hard, from the east,
and the sea
was in disorder.
Then some sanderlings,

five inches long
with beaks like wire,
flew in,
snowflakes on their backs,

and settled
in a row
behind the ducks —
whose backs were also

covered with snow —
so close
they were all but touching,
they were all but under

the roof of the duck’s tails,
so the wind, pretty much,
blew over them.
They stayed that way, motionless,

for maybe an hour,
then the sanderlings,
each a handful of feathers,
shifted, and were blown away

out over the water
which was still raging.
But, somehow,
they came back

and again the ducks,
like a feathered hedge,
let them
crouch there, and live.

If someone you didn’t know
told you this,
as I am telling you this,
would you believe it?

Belief isn’t always easy.
But this much I have learned —
if not enough else —
to live with my eyes open.

I know what everyone wants
is a miracle.
This wasn’t a miracle.
Unless, of course, kindness —

as now and again
some rare person has suggested —
is a miracle.
As surely it is.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Darkness: A Visitor, by Mary Oliver

A Visitor

by Mary Oliver
My father, for example,
who was young once
and blue-eyed,
returns
on the darkest of nights
to the porch and knocks
wildly at the door,
and if I answer
I must be prepared
for his waxy face,
for his lower lip
swollen with bitterness.
And so, for a long time,
I did not answer,
but slept fitfully
between his hours of rapping.
But finally there came the night
when I rose out of my sheets
and stumbled down the hall.
The door fell open
and I knew I was saved
and could bear him,
pathetic and hollow,
with even the least of his dreams
frozen inside him,
and the meanness gone.
And I greeted him and asked him
into the house,
and lit the lamp,
and looked into his blank eyes
in which at last
I saw what a child must love,
I saw what love might have done
had we loved in time.

Atheism, a poem by Richard Coughlan

Atheism

by Richard Coughlan

Atheism offers nothing to me
It never has and it never will
It doesn’t make me feel good or comforts me
Its not there for me when I’m sick or ill
It can’t intervene in my times of need
It wont protect me from hate and lies
It doesn’t care if I fail or succeed
And it won’t wipe the tears from my eyes
It does nothing when I’ve got nowhere to run
It won’t give me wise words or advise
It has no teachings for me to learn
It can’t show me what’s bad or nice
It has never inspired or incited anyone
It won’t help me fulfill all my goals
It won’t tell me to stop when I’m having fun
It has never saved one single soul
It doesn’t take credit for everything I achieved
It won’t make me get down on bended knees
It doesn’t demand that I have to believe
It won’t torture me for eternity
It won’t teach me to hate or despise others
It can’t tell me what’s right or wrong
It won’t tell anybody that they can’t be lovers
It has told nobody that they don’t belong
It won’t make you think that life is worth living
It has nothing to offer me, that’s true

But the reason that atheism offers me nothing is because I’ve never asked it to.

Atheism offers nothing because it doesn’t need to
Religion promises everything because you want it to

You don’t need a religion or to have faith
You just want it because you need to feel safe

I want to feel reality and nothing more
So atheism offers me everything
That religion has stolen from me before

Atheism: Untitled (God Died), a poem by Bill Barnes

Untitled (God Died)

by Bill Barnes

God died today in the heart of another man.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,
And in this soil a seed is planted.

God died today in the mind of another woman.
The black dirt, the moist earth,
From this new garden, wisdom grows.

I was always taught that God died that I might live.
I never realized how true this was.
His death nourishes the seeds of wisdom, happiness, and freedom.

This is a eulogy, a benediction.
I am saddened by my loss,
But know a better life is ahead of me.

Love and hate marked this relationship.
I loved this mythical invisible father.
I hated the crotchety old judge.

Like the child of an alcoholic,
Or a battered wife, who still loves her husband,
I am glad he’s gone, but I still miss him.

The new garden I have has wonderful plants,
But I still have to pull weeds of doubt and guilt,
It’s my responsibility now.

As a child must grow and leave the safety of home,
I have grown and left the eternal security of heaven.
I have outgrown my god, and laid him to rest.

Ancient Laws: Mnemosyne, a poem by Friedrich Holderlin

Mnemosyne

by Friedrich Holderlin

The fruits are ripe, dipped in fire,
Cooked and sampled on earth. And there’s a law,
That things crawl off in the manner of snakes,
Prophetically, dreaming on the hills of heaven.
And there is much that needs to be retained,
Like a load of wood on the shoulders.
But the pathways are dangerous.
The captured elements and ancient laws of earth
Run astray like horses. There is a constant yearning
For all that is unconfined. But much needs
To be retained. And loyalty is required.
Yet we mustn’t look forwards or backwards.
We should let ourselves be cradled
As if on a boat rocking on a lake.

But what about things that we love?
We see sun shining on the ground, and the dry dust,
And at home the forests deep with shadows,
And smoke flowering from the rooftops,
Peacefully, near the ancient crowning towers.
These signs of daily life are good,
Even when by contrast something divine
Has injured the soul.
For snow sparkles on an alpine meadow,
Half-covered with green, signifying generosity
Of spirit in all situations, like flowers in May —
A wanderer walks up above on a high trail
And speaks irritably to a friend about a cross
He sees in the distance, set for someone
Who died on the path… what does it mean?

My Achilles
Died near a fig tree,
And Ajax lies in the caves of the sea
Near the streams of Skamandros —
Great Ajax died abroad
Following Salamis’ inflexible customs,
A rushing sound at his temples —
But Patroclus died in the King’s armor.
Many others died as well.
But Eleutherai, the city
Of Mnemosyne, once stood upon
Mount Kithaeron. Evening
Loosened her hair, after the god
Had removed his coat.
For the gods are displeased
If a person doesn’t compose
And spare himself.
But one has to do it,
And grief is soon gone.

Friedrich Holderlin

 

Light: Why I Wake Early, by Mary Oliver

Why I Wake Early
by Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who made the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and the crotchety –

best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkness,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light –

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.”
― Mary Oliver

Letting Go: In Blackwater Woods, by Mary Oliver

In Blackwater Woods,
by Mary Oliver

“Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”
― Mary Oliver

Poem: Life in Abundance, by Tony DeLorger

Life in Abundance, by Tony DeLorger (c) 2011

 

Dewdrops form on velvet leaves,

like crystal worlds,

while insects wake

from darkness slumber,

and venture into light.

Movement, activity,

purpose without thought,

life’s sweet expression

prevails.

A breeze gently strokes

blades of grass,

yearning upward,

like green soldiers

tall and resolute,

while tiny creatures

scurry below, unseen,

foraging, in abundant life.

Birds swoop

in playful abandon,

imbued with the joy of being,

without thought or compromise,

living in moments of grace.

Skies vast and endless,

hover above,

singing the praises of life,

evolving white clouds

drift upon the canvas,

free, enraptured.

All this, strokes my soul,

touches me in profound ways,

gives purpose and understanding,

why.

Lost to the periphery of living,

it is so easy to lose the wonder,

the importance of being,

the pure love

that resides within everything.

The truth is there to see,

for those willing to see.

Journeys: The Journey, a poem by Mary Oliver

The Journey

by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.