Great Story Prayer

Eternal spirit of life and love, o God,
We come together in your presence today,
Grateful to be a part of the great story.
What a magnificent story it is! From the whirling of the stars,
To the evolution of humanity,
From the achievements of nations,
To family life around the table,
There is much in our world to astound us,
Disturb us, and bring us peace.

We are part of a story much too large and complicated
For us to fully understand. We appreciate that,
But we also know that you have given us reason to know our portion.
We have within us a great striving for fairness,
A thirst for justice. We feel it in our bones when something is wrong,
And we have lodged in our memory, the dream of the right.
We don’t know how this story will end –
Though we live aware that our own individual story will end.
But we know we have a chance,
While we are here, to serve beauty and dignity
And truth and basic kindness.

Into this great story, into this great tapestry
Of natural beauty and human endeavour,
We can weave in threads of good deeds.
Help us, oh spirit, to move this story along,
And to jolt it, every day, towards love, AMEN

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Your Monday Blessing: the self

May your find yourself so often
and in so many marvellous guises
that the I is the aperture to all things

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Your Monday Blessing: the water

Let me tell you a story about myself.
I came from the water –
before I had this body, I mean,
when I was all ambition and a few tendrils.
I came from the water,
and flopped up onto the roof of the world –
the tippy-top rocks, the empty gasping, outer space –
where I built this penthouse.
I came from the water,
the earth turned a bit,
and I went back to the water.
I felt the water between my toes,
and walked right in,
back to the main story,
the place of all rememberings.

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Juliette Gréco is singing Over the Rainbow

Juliette Gréco is singing Over the Rainbow
as she walks home through Paris
after her interrogation by the Gestapo.

Judy Garland, full-throated, echoes off the Boulevards,
decommissioning silence, adding a few notes
to joy’s chapter in the book of life.

She is singing it now, to the absence of you and me,
an absence felt tenderly,
like the eternal maybe between octaves.

Juliette Gréco is young, when all is lost,
and yet only youth is final,
the sky’s particular blue is complete,

The city already full, and Bogart will always tell Bacall
nous aurons toujours.
To say “Keats is done” denotes no failure at all.

She, at least, will never leave Paris,
after all, she has sung for it, and what else
could possibly be real?

 

 

“The importance of American music for a whole generation is summed up by a story told by Juliette Gréco. She had been arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, held in a cell, and then, to her surprise, freed again. She walked eight miles home through wintry streets in a thin cotton dress, and as she walked, she defiantly sang an American song at the top of her voice: ‘Over the Rainbow.’ from Sarah Bakewell, “At the Existentalist Cafe: Freedom, Being & Apricot Cocktails” p.167

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horseradish

While I am eating horseradish, it occurs to me
there are at this very moment people
who are trying to avert an international scandal
that might affect one’s standing on the world’s stage,
not to mention their investments in the stock market.
While I am eating horseradish.

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Your Monday Blessing: Your Next Breath

Dear one I am keeping
your next breath
very close to me
I carry it around
like a sacred amulet
like a child’s toy
like the sky itself in my heart
with it I walk on the earth
dignified and slow
like a waiter
like an angel in the pageant
like a wheelchair
aware and responsible
of the weight I have come to know
your breath is the only real treasure
in me
as all possession
it cuts both ways
tight as I hold it
sometimes it pains me
I fear I ruined it
rendered it unusable
to you
so I am calling out to my friend
the redwood tree
and asking it to save
this breath that has made me
your keeper

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Your Monday blessing comes from a place dear to my heart.

I’ve come to know the Warrington YMCA, as well as their affiliated night shelter, a little over the last two years. Twice a month or so, a few of us get together at the Unitarian chapel for a cup of tea and a prayer. And both the YMCA and the night shelter are just walk from the chapel. It’s been a privilege to get to know these residents of Warrington, who may be homeless, in transitional housing, lonely, in recovery, in need of some help, or just hanging out. I’ve met some wonderful people.

Thanks, in large part, to decades of leadership from Susan Blyth, the YMCA in Warrington has helped create a sense of community, and a place of belonging and hope, amongst Warrington’s most isolated citizens. But with funding utterly slashed in recent years, everything they’ve done over the last 30 years is now under threat. This Saturday the 29th, I hope to join over 75 other supporters in sleeping out overnight in support of those who sleep out every night. Would you sponsor me? As little as £5/$5 would be greatly appreciated. I’d love to get 20 sponsors over the course of this week. You can donate online at Save Warrington YMCA, or just message me. Thanks!

Here’s the blessing, written with love for the YMCA and the night shelter:

I know a place
Winmarleigh Street
Right by the gates
An open door

The welcome’s warm
And so’s the brew
Milk and sugar
And kindness too

A smiling face
A friend I know
Or even one
I’ve yet to meet

I don’t have much
In this hard life
I have a place
Where I can go

You can come too
If you fall out
Or lose the plot
Or get kicked out

We’ve all been there
Once, twice, or more
We’ll be waiting
Right by the door

It’s near the heart
Of Warrington
It is the heart
Of Warrington

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