“The Way it is” - William Stafford
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
is the harvest of presence, the evanescent moment of seeing or hearing on the outside what already lives far inside us; the eyes, the ears or the imagination suddenly become a bridge between the here and the there, between then and now, between the inside and the outside; beauty is the conversation between what we think is happening outside in the world and what is just about to occur far inside.
Beauty is an achieved state of both deep attention and self-forgetting; the self forgetting of seeing, hearing, smelling or touching that erases our separation, our distance, our fear of the other. Beauty invites us, through entrancement, to that fearful, frontier between what we think makes us; and what we think makes the world. Beauty is almost always found in symmetries and intriguing asymmetries: the symmetries and asymmetries seen out in creation, the wings of the moth, the airy sky and the solid earth, the restful, focused eyes of a loving face in which we see our own self reflected: the symmetry also, therefore, of bringing together inner and outer recognitions, the far horizon of otherness seen in that face joined to the deep inner horizon of our own being. Beauty is an inner and an outer complexion living in one face.
Beauty especially occurs in the meeting of time with the timeless; the passing moment framed by what has happened and what is about to occur, the scattering of the first spring apple blossom, the turning, spiraling flight of a curled leaf in the falling light; the smoothing of white sun-filled sheets by careful hands setting them to air on a line, the broad expanse of cotton filled by the breeze only for a moment, the sheets sailing on into dryness, billowing toward a future that is always beckoning, always just beyond us. Beauty is the harvest of presence.
Friendship by David Whyte
“Friendship is a mirror to presence and a testament to forgiveness. Friendship not only helps us see ourselves through another’s eyes, but can be sustained over the years only with someone who has repeatedly forgiven us for our trespasses as we must find it in ourselves to forgive them in turn. A friend knows our difficulties and shadows and remains in sight, a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs, when we are under the strange illusion we do not need them. An undercurrent of real friendship is a blessing exactly because its elemental form is rediscovered again and again through understanding and mercy. All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die…
In the course of the years a close friendship will always reveal the shadow in the other as much as ourselves, to remain friends we must know the other and their difficulties and even their sins and encourage the best in them, not through critique but through addressing the better part of them, the leading creative edge of their incarnation, thus subtly discouraging what makes them smaller, less generous, less of themselves…
The dynamic of friendship is almost always underestimated as a constant force in human life: a diminishing circle of friends is the first terrible diagnostic of a life in deep trouble: of overwork, of too much emphasis on a professional identity, of forgetting who will be there when our armored personalities run into the inevitable natural disasters and vulnerabilities found in even the most average existence…
But no matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”
– David Whyte
Poem - Love is reckless by Rumi
Love is reckless; not reason.
Reason seeks a profit.
Love comes on strong,
consuming herself, unabashed.
Yet, in the midst of suffering,
Love proceeds like a millstone,
hard surfaced and straightforward.
Having died of self-interest,
she risks everything and asks for nothing.
Love gambles away every gift God bestows.
Without cause God gave us Being;
without cause, give it back again.
For Marriage by John O’ Donohue
As spring unfolds the dream of the earth,
May you bring each other's hearts to birth.
As the ocean finds calm in view of land,
May you love the gaze of each other's mind.
As the wind arises free and wild,
May nothing negative control your lives.
As kindly as moonlight might search the dark,
So gentle may you be when light grows scarce.
As surprised as the silence that music opens,
May your words for each other be touched with reverence.
As warmly as the air draws in the light,
May you welcome each other's every gift.
As elegant as dream absorbing the night,
May sleep find you clear of anger and hurt.
As twilight harvests all the day's color,
May love bring you home to each other.
John O'Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us, page 136, Doubleday, 2008, First Edition, USA
How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) - Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Prayer (for unity ceremony):
Note: You may choose to use part or all of I Corinthians 13. The most popular verses are 4-7, which begin "Love is patient, love is kind."
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
My beloved responded and said to me,
'Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along. 'For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
'The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.
'The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.
Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along!'
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.
For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.
Furthermore, if two lie down together, they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?
And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
“Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
“and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:12–17)