readings

Sonnet XCIV

Author: 
Pablo Neruda

If I die, survive me with such sheer force
that you waken the furies of the pallid and the cold,
from south to south lift your indelible eyes,
from sun to sun dream through your singing mouth.
I don’t want your laughter or your steps to waver,
I don’t want my heritage of joy to die.
Don’t call up my person. I am absent.
Live in my absence as if in a house.
Absence is a house so vast
that inside you will pass through its walls
and hang pictures on the air
Absence is a house so transparent
that I, lifeless, will see you, living,
and if you suffer, my love, I will die again.

If You Practice Patience

Author: 
M.B. Muhaiyaddeen

If you practice patience, you become more patient
If you become more patient, you become quiter
If you become quieter, you become more aware
If you become more aware, you become more compassionate
If you become more compassionate, you become more understanding
If you become more understanding, you become wiser
If you become wiser you become more accepting
If you become more accepting, you become more peaceful
If you become more peaceful, you will see unity in all things
If you see unity in all things, you will become more grateful
If you become more grateful, you thank God, you will praise God
If you praise God, you will have understood Life, and the meaning of your life
And you have come to know that the Kingdom of Heaven is indeed within.

Otherwise

Author: 
Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

Doubletake

Author: 
Seamus Heaney

Human beings suffer,
they torture one another,
they get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
can fully right a wrong
inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols
beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
faints at the funeral home

History says, Don’t hope
on this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
the longed for tidal wave
of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
on the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
and cures and healing wells.

Call the miracle self-healing:
The utter self-revealing
double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
or lightning and storm
and a god speaks from the sky.

That means someone is hearing
the outcry and the birth-cry
of new life at its term.

Finite Freedom

Author: 
Paul Tillich (adapted)

“A human is essentially 'finite freedom'; freedom not in the sense of indeterminacy but in the sense of being able to determine their self through decisions in the center of their being. A human as finite freedom, is free within the contingencies of their finitude. But within these limits they are asked to make of themself what they are supposed to become, to fulfill their destiny.”

Let My Heart Be Open

Author: 
Rabbi Chaim Stern (adapted)

For the times when I could have made peace with my neighbor but picked a quarrel, forgive me. And forgive me too for the times when I could have accepted with grace an offer of friendship, or reconciliation, but did not choose to listen. At times, in my willfulness, I may have closed my heart to the possibility of a healing world. Today - and tomorrow - let my heart be open.

For Those Who Have Died

Author: 
Rabbi Chaim Stern

‘Tis a fearful thing
to love
what death can touch.
To love, to hope, to dream,
and oh, to lose.

A thing for fools, this,
love,
but a holy thing,
to love what death can touch.

For your life has lived in me;
Your laugh once lifted me;
Your word was a gift to me.

To remember this brings painful joy.

‘Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing,
to love
what death can touch

Migrant

Author: 
Ross Coppola

Stranger in your homeland and stranger
amongst strangers
month after month you labour and every day
is the same as yesterday.
But for you also there comes
the happiest of days
That in which you return home:
and once you are hom
the misunderstandings begin.
Your children have grown
of you all they know is your name
but your affection, your love is enough
to draw them all
to your heart
and the old tie is remade.
Your dreamed-of days
have vanished quickly
you go -- and the old round begins.
Your soul once again you leave here
and alone, with your bag
filled with memories you go:
This is your whole life consumed
between an arrival and a departure
and to think that you went
to stay for only a year or two.

From Balai, Asian Journal No. 12, as printed in A Moment to Choose: Risking to be with Uprooted Peoples, A Resource Book produced by the World Council of Churches, 1996.

Karainya Metta Sutta, excerpt

Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world:
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.

(excerpt from the Karainya Metta Sutta, the Buddha's teaching on unconditional loving kindness or good will)

Contemplation on No Coming, No Going

Author: 
Thich Nhat Hanh

This body is not me.
I am not limited by this body.
I am life without boundaries.
I have never been born,
and I have never died.

Look at the ocean and sky filled with stars,
manifestations of my wondrous true mind.

Since before time I have been free.
Birth and death are only doors through which we pass,
sacred thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are a game of hide-and-seek.

So laugh with me,
hold my hand.
Let us say good-bye,
say good-bye, to meet again soon.

We meet today.
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source of every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.

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