Posts in Physical Gathering
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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As We Look Back

As we look back over time  
We find ourselves wondering  
Did we remember to thank you enough  
For all you have done for us?  
For all the times you were by our sides  
To help and support us  
To celebrate our successes  
To understand our problems  
And accept our defeats?  
Or for teaching us by your example,  
The value of hard work, good judgement,  
Courage and integrity?  
We wonder if we ever thanked you  
For the sacrifices you made.  
To let us have the very best?  
And for the simple things  
Like laughter, smiles and times we shared?  
If we have forgotten to show our  
Gratitude enough for all the things you did,  
We're thanking you now.  
And we are hoping you knew all along,  
How much you meant to us.  

-- Clare Jones

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Belief

I have to believe  
That you still exist  
Somewhere,  
That you still watch me  
Sometimes  
That you still love me  
Somehow.  

I have to believe  
That life has meaning  
Somehow  
That I am useful here  
Sometimes,  
That I make small differences  
Somewhere.  

I have to believe  
That I need to stay here  
For some time,  
That all this teaches me  
Something,  
So that I can meet you again  
Somewhere. 

-- Ann Thorp

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From the Garden of Proserpine

We are not sure of sorrow,
And joy was never sure;
To-day will die to-morrow;
Time stoops to no man’s lure;
And love, grown faint and fretful,
With lips but half regretful
Sighs, and with eyes forgetful
Weeps that no loves endure.

From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.

Then star nor sun shall waken,
Nor any change of light:
Nor sound of waters shaken,
Nor any sound or sight:
Nor wintry leaves nor vernal,

Nor days nor things diurnal;
Only the sleep eternal
In an eternal night.

-- Algernon Charles Swinburne

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Living Each Day

Now I am gone, now I am lost to you 

Find me again just as you used to do: 

  

In the house – when you go from room to room you’ll find 

The bits and pieces that I’ve left behind. 

  

In the street – of course . . . I’ve stopped to window-shop; 

You carry on, my love, I’ll catch you up. 

  

At night – as darkness slowly fills the sky: 

I’m late; don’t fret; I’ll be there by and by. 

  

At morning – when the sky is still blue-black, 

I had to go out early: I’ll be back. 

 

In sunshine – as you peer into the glare – 

A shape that seems to be both light and air. 

  

In rain – as you look out and people pass – 

One leaves a reflection printed on the glass. 

  

In the garden – when you doze away the hours 

I pass with a smile on my face, and my arms full of flowers. 

  -- Lisa Kitson

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Memorial Day

It is easily forgotten, year to 

year, exactly where the plot is, 

though the place is entirely familiar 

a willow tree by a curving roadway    

sweeping black asphalt with tender leaves; 

  

damp grass strewn with flower boxes, 

canvas chairs, darkskinned old ladies 

circling in draped black crepe family stones,    

fingers cramped red at the knuckles, discolored    

nails, fresh soil for new plants, old rosaries; 

  

such fingers kneading the damp earth gently down    

on new roots, black humus caught in grey hair    

brushed back, and the single waterfaucet, 

birdlike upon its grey pipe stem, 

a stream opening at its foot. 

  

We know the stories that are told, 

by starts and stops, by bent men at strange joy    

regarding the precise enactments of their own    

gesturing. And among the women there will be    

a naming of families, a counting off, an ordering. 

  

The morning may be brilliant; the season 

is one of brilliances sunlight through 

the fountained willow behind us, its splayed    

shadow spreading westward, our shadows westward,    

irregular across damp grass, the close-set stones. 

  

It may be that since our walk there is faltering, 

moving in careful steps around snow-on-the-mountain,    

bluebells and zebragrass toward that place 

between the willow and the waterfaucet, the way    

is lost, that we have no practiced step there, 

and walking, our own sway and balance, fails us. 

  -- Michael Anania

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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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Blessed Are Those Who Give Meaning to Our Lives

Blessed are those who give meaning to our lives;

holy and precious is the example they leave behind.

We pray: May our sorrows diminish as we recall their strength.

May their wisdom protect us and help us to live.

Let our grief be transformed into tenderness for those who are still with us.

-- Jewish prayer

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On Death

You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

-- Kahlil Gibran

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i thank You God for this amazing day

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

-- e.e. cummings

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Mystery of Life

Before the sublime mystery of life and spirit,
the mystery of infinite space
and endless time, we stand in reverent awe . . .
This much we know:
we are at least one phase of the immortality of life.
The mighty stream of life flows on, and, in this mighty stream,
we too flow on . . .
not lost . . . but each eternally significant.
For this I feel: The spirit never betrays the person
who trusts it.
Physical life may be defeated but life goes on;
character survives,
goodness lives and love is immortal.

-- Robert G. Ingersoll

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At a Grave

They who stand with breaking hearts around this [little] grave, need have no fear. The larger and the nobler faith in all that is, and is to be, tells us that death, even at its worst, is only perfect rest. We know that through the common wants of life—the needs and duties of each hour—their grief will lessen day by day, until at last this grave will be to them a place of rest and peace—almost of joy. There is for them this consolation: The dead do not suffer. If they live again, their lives will surely be as good as ours. We have no fear. We are all children of the same mother, and the same fate awaits us all. We, too, have our religion [belief], and it is this:
Help for the living—Hope for the dead.

-- Robert G. Ingersoll, adapted

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