READINGS BY NANCY JOY CALLIHAN

Brian Andreas

In my dream, I was at the front of a huge room filled with people, and it was my job to decide who deserved love and who didn't.  I had no idea how to begin, so I just based it on how tall you were.  But then an angel whispered in my ear that a lot of these people, even the older ones, weren't finished growing yet, so I just waved my hands in the air and said, "Everyone deserves love."  And then we all adjourned into the next room where there were snacks.

Mark Nepo

I've longed for people I thought I would die without. 
And wanted books and music I was sure would bring me peace. 
And I've driven myself to accomplish things I thought would secure my worth. 
And though I seldom touched what I longed for or got what I wanted or achieved what I pushed for,
the remnants of my longing burned like ancient wood on the fire of my soul,
making the heart of my being burn brighter.

To my surprise, I loved and worked and pushed 'til I used myself up.

To my surprise, using myself up was the fate under all my aspirations.

At the end of all we want, we're meant to glow. 
So long and want and dream 'til you exhaust you heart's desire. 
We learn so much from longing and wanting and dreaming. 
Mostly, that they are not the mansiions we dream of living in,
but they are the wood that keeps our fires going.

Rumi

There is a basket of fresh bread on your head,
yet you go door to door asking for crusts.
 
Knock on the inner door, no other.
Sloshing knee-deep in fresh riverwater,
yet you keep asking for other people's waterbags.
 
Water is everywhere around you, but you see
only barriers that keep you from water.
 
The horse is beneath the rider's thighs,
and still you ask, "Where's my horse?"                                                                
 
You are like a pearl on the deep bottom wondering inside the shell,
"Where's the ocean?"
 
Your mental questionings form the barrier.
Stay bewildered inside God,and only that.
 
When you are with everyone but me, you're with no one.
When you are with no one but me, you're with everyone.
Instead of being so bound up with everyone, be everyone.
When you become that many, you're nothing.
Empty.

Mary Oliver

The spirit likes to dress up like this: ten fingers, ten toes.

It could float, of course, but would rather plumb rough matter.

Airy and shapeless thing, it needs the metaphor of the body, lime and appetite, the oceanic fluids;
it needs the body's world, instinct and imagination and the dark hug of time;
sweetness and tangibility, to be understood - to be  more than pure light that burns where no one is.

So it enters us - in the morning, shines from brute comfort like a stitch of lightning;
and at night lights up the deep and wondrous drownings of the body like a star.

 

Hafiz

We have not come here to take prisoners, but to surrender ever more deeply to freedom and joy.
We have not come into this exquisite world to hold ourselves hostage from love.
Run, my dear, from anything that may not strengthen your precious budding wings.
Run, my dear, from anyone likely to put a sharp knife into the sacred, tender vision of your beautiful heart.
We have a duty to befriend those aspects of obedience that stand outside of our house
and shout to our reason, "Oh please, Oh please, come out and play."For we have not come here to take prisoners
or to confine our wondrous spirits, but to experience ever and ever more deeply our divine courage, freedom and light.

Tagore

Let your love play upon my voice and rest on my silence.  Let it pass through my heart into all my movements. 
Let Your love, like stars, shine in the darkness of my sleep and dawn in my a​wakening. 
Let it burn in the flame of my desires and flow in all currents of my own love. 
Let me carry Your love in my life as a harp does its music, and give it back to You at last with my life.

Anonymous

Around and around we go singing our song sweet and low, our song of love, and our song of life.
You choose what you want to hear - spring's eternal life or death's eternal damnation, love's summer song or winter's heartache pose.
This life is yours, sing what you may.
Come sun and springling shower you can give a tune to everyghing, no matter what the hour.
Sing your song to your heart's content of loves, ballad or death's lament.
Sing your song to be heard from the highest hill to evening flower, sing it high, sing it low, but sing it anyway,
for life is for singing the praises of being here.

James Dillet Freeman

If every day were Christmas, how different life would be,
if not one day but all year were ruled by charity.
Had we the faith in miracles a child has Christmas morn,
each day would be love's manger and Christ would be reborn
in us again to change and heal our outworn wars and ways-
had we a child's or shepherd's gift for wonderment and praise!
Yet every day is Christmas when we have learned to live
not so much in how to get, but how to truly give;
and like a child can wonder, and like a child can pray,
but have the grown-up wisdom to give ourselves away.

Ernest Holmes

She let go.  Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of the fear.  She let go of the judgments.  She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.  She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  She let go of all the 'right' reasons.  Wholley and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn't ask anyone for advice.  She didn't read a book on how to let go.  She didn't search the scriptures.  She just let go.  She let go of all the memories that held her back.  She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.  She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn't promise to let go.  She didn't journal about it.  She didn't write the projected date in her Day-Timer.  She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.  She didn't check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.  She just let go.
She didn't analyze whether she should let go.  She didn't call her friends to discuss the matter.  She didn't do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.  She didn't call the Prayer Line.  She didn't utter one word.  She just let go.
There was no effort.  There was no struggle.  It wasn't good and it wasn't bad.  It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.  A small smile came over her face.  A light breeze blew through her.  And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive. 

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it. 

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human. 

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithlessand therefore trustworthy. 

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it's not pretty, every day,and if you can source your own life from its presence. 

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children. 

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back. 

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away. 

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Mary Oliver

The aspen tree, with her branches new and her reach humble, whispered into the every-listening breeze, "My path appears long and my task daunting.  Surely such a grand destiny has never been navigated by one of such limitation."
 
And in the same moment that her final word escaped, the response of a thousand voices arose.  "You are part of us and we are part of you.  For each of us is an emanation of the same root - an ancient and timeless root of love, wisdom and plenty, forever pressing itself into form as our brothers and sisters, stretching across this grand mountain.
 
You see, little tree, the same great root which presses itself into form as you, bestows its rich honoring upon your ancestors and your descendents alike.  So, the fullest potentials of the grandest aspen, brushing the very edges of eternity itself with her yellow leaves, are available through you as well.  This same ancient root, which is forever pressing itself into visible form as our brothers and sisters, neither requires your struggle nor petitions your worry.  For this same ancient root exists beyond the world of beginnings and endings and earthly harm - even draught and fire and careless children who would swing from the most delicate branches are incapable of touching her eternal heart.
 
You are part of us and we are part of you.  And, in those moments when you might forget, we will remember for you.