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Marge Piercy's Kaddish

Look around us, search above us, below, behind.
We stand in a great web of being joined together.
Let us praise, let us love the life we are lent
passing through us in the body of Israel
and our own bodies, let’s say amein.

Time flows through us like water.
The past and the dead speak through us.
We breathe our children’s children, blessing.

Blessed is the earth from which we grow,
blessed the life we are lent,
blessed the ones who teach us,
blessed the ones we teach,
blessed is the word that cannot say the glory
that shines through us and remains to shine
flowing past distant suns on the way to forever.
Let’s say amein.

Blessed is the light, blessed is the darkness
but blessed above all else is peace
which bears the fruits of knowledge
on strong branches, let’s say amen.

Peace that bears joy into the world,
peace that enables love, peace over Israel
everywhere, blessed and holy is peace, let’s say amein.

-- Marge Piercy
 

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Death is Not the End

Death is not the end

But the beginning 

Of a metamorphosis.

For matter is never destroyed 

Only transformed 

And rearranged – 

Often more perfectly.

Witness how in the moment of a caterpillar’s death 

The beauty of the butterfly is born 

And released from the prison of the cocoon 

It flies free.

-- Peter Tatchell

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Life is a Journey

Birth is a beginning
And death a destination
And life is a journey: 
From childhood to maturity
And youth to age; 
From innocence to awareness
And ignorance to knowing; 
From foolishness to desecration
And then perhaps to wisdom. 

From weakness to strength or
From strength to weakness
And often back again; 
From health to sickness, 
And we pray to health again. 

From offence to forgiveness, 
From loneliness to love, 
From joy to gratitude, 
From pain to compassion, 
From grief to understanding, 
From fear to faith. 

From defeat to defeat to defeat
Until, not looking backwards or ahead, 
We see that victory lies not
At some high point along the way
But in having made the journey
Step by step, 
A sacred pilgrimage. 
Birth is a beginning
And death a destination
And life is a journey. 

--Rabbi Alvin Fine from Jewish Reform high holiday prayer book, Gates of Repentance

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Four Candles

The first candle represents our grief. 
The pain of losing you is intense. 
It reminds us of the depth of our love for you.  
This second candle represents our courage. 
To confront our sorrow, 
To comfort each other, 
To change our lives. 
This third candle we light in your memory. 
For the times we laughed, 
The times we cried, 
The times we were angry with each other, 
The silly things you did, 
The caring and joy you gave us. 
This fourth candle we light for our love. 
We light this candle that your light will always shine. 
As we enter this holiday season and share this night of remembrance
with our family and friends. 
We cherish the special place in our hearts
that will always be reserved for you. 
We thank you for the gift  
your living brought to each of us. 
We love you. 
We remember you. 

-- Unknown

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The Friend

In a circle of friends, the one who dies first
Is the friend you will never forget: 
This is the death that unhinges you
From the trappings of everyday life
And makes you – suddenly – absurdly grateful
For each new breath – beginning with this one. 

This is the death that could break you apart
In every way possible; that persuades you – 
In memory of that friend – to turn away
From whatever refuses to speak to your heart
From whatever threatens to numb your soul
From whatever it is that revels in death. 

Yet this, too, is the friend you need by your side. 
Listen. Together they urge you: Live your life. 

-- Alice Kavounas

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Remember Me

To the living, I am gone. 
To the sorrowful, I will never return. 
To the angry, I was cheated, 
But to the happy, I am at peace, 
And to the faithful, I have never left. 
I cannot be seen, but I can be heard. 
So as you stand upon a shore, gazing at a beautiful sea - remember me. 
As you look in awe at a mighty forest and its grand majesty - remember me. 
As you look upon a flower and admire its simplicity - remember me. 
Remember me in your heart, your thoughts, and your memories of the times we
loved, the times we cried, the times we fought, the times we laughed. 
For if you always think of me, I will have never gone.
-- Unknown

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Return This Body

This body that has borne her all her life from birth to death,

that gave her breath to live and sight to see,

that has served her every need, that has shown you the beauty of her unique person

in its eyes and made you aware of her presence in your heart,

and without which she would be a mystery to you;

we now return to its source with the grace it deserves from us,

without our attachment to it but with our lasting love for her.

 

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A Prayer

May perpetual light shine upon 

The face of he who rests here.  


May the remembering earth  

Mind every memory he brought.  


May the rains from the heavens  

Fall gently upon him.  


May the wildflowers and grasses  

Whisper their wishes into the light.


May we reverence the village of presence  

In the stillness of this silent field.  


-- Adapted from a poem by John Donohue

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When a Great Soul Dies

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

-- Maya Angelou

 

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Prayer of Faith

We trust that beyond absence there is a presence. 

That beyond the pain there can be healing. 

That beyond the brokenness there can be wholeness. 

That beyond the anger there may be peace. 

That beyond the hurting there may be forgiveness. 

That beyond the silence there may be the word. 

That beyond the word there may be understanding. 

That through understanding there is love.  

-- Unknown

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Finding You in Beauty

 

The rays of light filtered through 

The sentinels of trees this morning. 

I sat in the garden and contemplated. 

The serenity and beauty 

Of my feelings and surroundings 

Completely captivated me. 

I thought of you. 

I discovered you tucked away 

In the shadows of the trees. 

Then, rediscovered you  

In the smiles of the flowers 

As the sun penetrated their petals 

In the rhythm of the leaves 

Falling in the garden 

In the freedom of the birds 

As they fly searching as you do. 

I’m very happy to have found you, 

Now you will never leave me 

For I will always find you in the beauty of life.

-- Walter Rinder 

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I Shall Live Beyond Death

I shall live beyond death, and I shall sing in your ears

Even after the vast sea-wave carries me back  

To the vast sea-depth.  

I shall sit at your board though without a body,  

And I shall go with you to your fields, a spirit invisible.  

I shall come to you at your fireside, a guest unseen.  

Death changes nothing but the masks that cover our faces.  

The woodsman shall be still a woodsman,  

The ploughman, a ploughman,  

And he who sang his song to the wind shall sing it also to  

              the moving spheres.  

-- Kahlil Gibran, from The Garden of The Prophet

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Reading, Ecclesiastes 3, vv 1 - 14

There is a time for everything,  and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die,  

a time to plant and a time to uproot,  

a time to kill and a time to heal,  

a time to tear down and a time to build,  

a time to weep and a time to laugh,  

a time to mourn and a time to dance,  

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,  

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,  

 a time to search and a time to give up,  

a time to keep and a time to throw away,  

a time to tear and a time to mend,  

a time to be silent and a time to speak,  

a time to love and a time to hate,  

a time for war and a time for peace. 

 

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I Carry Your Heart

I carry your heart with me (I carry it in 

My heart) I am never without it (anywhere 

I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done 

By only me is your doing, my darling)  [or Dear Grandpa?] 

I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want 

No world (for beautiful you are my world, my true) 

And it's you are whatever a moon has always meant 

And whatever a sun will always sing is you 

Here is the deepest secret nobody knows 

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud 

And the sky of a tree called life; which grows 

Higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) 

And this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart 

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart) 

-- ee cummings

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How Do I Love Thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

-- Elizabeth Barrett Browning,  Sonnet 43

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The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
And I wake in the night at the least sound
In fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
Rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
Who do not tax their lives with forethought
Of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
Waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


-- Wendell Berry

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