Generic Prayer Instructions

Find nature, then be in it.
Go to a body of placid water.

Notice who is in charge of the planets and the earth.
Not you, is it?
Very well.

Keep sitting.
Create a body of placid water.

Notice who stirs the planets and the earth.
Feel your heartbeat.
Return to it.
Return to it.
Go home.

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The Baal Shem Tov

The Baal Shem Tov

One might, in turn, believe
and not believe in reincarnation,
in order to say, “next life, I’d do it happier,”
and then embrace this one.

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Lord’s Prayer

Lord’s Prayer

Boss, we’ve still got that deal.
Give me bread
Give me life
even when
I don’t deserve life
in Your eyes.
I’ll give life
to those who don’t deserve life
in my eyes.
I’ll make You holy.
I’ll say Your name,
and it will mean something
when I say it.
Boss, I know it’s tempting,
but deliver me
from every manner of vengeance.
‘Cos we’ve still got that deal.
And when I’m gone – soon – only You
and the deal
will be left
on the table.

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What Keeps Time?

What keeps time?

a circle, pulled through its circumference
a jar, beneath some papers, in a cupboard
a tick
a dinosaur, reshaped and reappraised
rings on a tree
waves, microwaves, and train goodbyes
the folded hands of a pensioner
and the regular occasional ha
of air rising to meet air.

But where, tell me, does all this kept time
earn its freedom?
Is it waiting
in the gap between the bells,
or is it already taken
from the stretched skin
beating one, two, three, four?

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Your Monday Blessing for today

May God’s home be in the arms of the homeless and the refugee,
may God’s ceremony be justice,
may God’s tribute be surrender.

May God’s righteousness be the poor, confirmed,
and may God’s river be the very stream
where she is taking her old grey coat, right now.

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The Diner

The night before I got married,
there was a diner.
It was across the street from the motel
where we were staying –
where I was staying,
and my friends, and a few various
of my family,
and the night after wedding happened, the plan was
we’d pretty much all be staying there,
including my wife (-to-be) and I.
It had a neon sign, this diner,
I think it said, “Diner”, as neon diner signs
tend to do.
Maybe it was red.
Inside was plenty of chrome, and the ageless cakes
in that spinning-case thing they always have,
and booths, and chairs that swivel.
And the night before I got married,
myself and Claire and Dave,
my brother Phil, actually all my brothers
I’m pretty sure, and Alex I know,
and Munish, and others, a few of us, anyway,
we went to that diner,
walked across the parking lot, from the motel,
past the neon sign,
and proceeded to order
four bottles of wine
and a small fruit salad.
I believe it had a couple slices of melon in it.
We may have ordered some eggs later, I dimly recall.
I know we had more wine.
And we played cards, one game or another,
and talked about nothing, mostly.
The day after that night, my (now-) wife and I
got married, in a historic home, not too far from the motel.
We’ve got lots of photos.
It was great.
But I still remember the night before,
the night at the diner,
And what I mostly remember about it
was that it was a good night.
I’ve always liked diner food.
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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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