READINGS BY NANCY JOY CALLIHAN

Barbara Marx Hubbard

Some of us have a profound sense of mission, a purpose for our lives on this planet, which we have chosen beyond immediate self-interest.  We sense we have volunteered to come to Earth to do a particular task.  Are individuals like cells within the body, each with a unique, vital task essential to the whole?  Is there a design for each life?  Potentially, ytet.  If the overall system is prefigured and prepatterned but not predetermined.  We are each born with a unique set of characteristics that are needed for the evolution of the world.  Whether or not we use them is up to us.

Each person has the free choice to use God-given talents for the highest purpose—or to squander them for lesser purposes.  As we approach the time of transformation, it counts more and more whether or not we use our freedom to do our best.

Every member in the social body is being stimulated to play the appropriate role destined by their unique potentials.  Freedom grants us the opportunity to discover our unique capacity—what we can best do that is most required—and then to do it with all our hearts, minds and strength.

This is how we can fulfill the twofold command: love of God and our neighbor as ourselves.  To love God, we must desire to fulfill God's purposes.  T love ourselves is to discover our unique role in fulfilling God's purpose—which is our own.  If each of us seeks our purpose on the planet, turning within and asking for guidance, then we will go the whole way together to the top of the mountain.

Rumi

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,

Still, treat each guest honorably.

They may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice—

Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

Richard Bach

Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river. 
The current of the river swept silently over them all— 
young and old, rich and poor, good and evil— 
the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

Each creature, in its own manner,
clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom,
for clinging was their way of life,
and resisting the current was what each had learned from birth.

But one creature said at last, "I am tired of clinging.
Though I cannot see it with my eyes,
I trust that the current knows where it is going.
I shall let go, and let it take mw where it will.
Clinging, I will die of boredom."

The other creatures laughed and said,
"Fool!  Let go, and that current you worship
will throw you tumbled and smashed against the rocks, 
and you will die quicker than boredom!"

But the one heeded them not,
and taking a breath did let go,
and at once was tumbled and smashed
by the current across the rocks.

Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again,
the current lifted him free from the bottom,
and he was bruised and hurt no more.

And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried,
"See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies!
See the messiah, come to save us all!"

And the one carried in the current said, 
"I am no more messiah than you.
The river delights to lift us free,
if only we dare let go."

But they cried the more, "Savior!"
all the while clinging to the rocks,
and when they looked again he was gone,
and they were left alone making legends of a savior.

Charlotte Tall Mountain

For the love of a tree...she went out on a limb.
For the love of the sea...she rocked the boat.
For the love of the earth...she dug deeper.
For the love of community...she mended fences.
For the love of the stars...she let her light shine.
For the love of spirit...she nurtured her soul.
For the love of a good time...she sowed seeds of happiness.
For the love of the Goddess...she drew down the moon.
For the love of nature...she made compost.
For the love of a good meal...she gave thanks.
For the love of family...she reconciled differences.
For the love of creativity...she entertained new possibilities.
For the love of her enemies...she suspended judgment.
For the love of herself...she acknowledged her worth.
And the world was richer for her.

St. Patrick

I arise today
through the strength of heaven;
light of sun, radiance of moon,
splendor of fire, speed of lightning,
swiftness of wind, depth of sea,
stability of earth, firmness of rock.

I arise today
through God's strength to pilot me: 
God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me, God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me, God's host to save me.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today.

Alvarado Frazier

Advance the clocks.
Groggy at first, there is no spring in my step,
no possibilities that I can see.
But I do have another hour to keep my eyes ahead
to days of flowers birthed by freezing rain,
buried deep in snow,
pushed upward for me to see
that yes, indeed, I can spring forward
to another day
into a year of possibilities.

Mark Llloyd Richardson

Pray to whomever you kneel in awe before.
Pray to Being, to Sacred Mystery, to the Breath of Life.
Pray to Divine Love, to Ultimate Meaning, to the Author of Peace.
Pray so as to open your humanity to the humanity of others.
Pray without forgetting that we are bound together on a path that touches all of our lives, all of our worlds,
whether we live in Haiti or Iraq or China or Afghanistan or Yemen or Palestine or on the central coast of California.
On this day, we thank you, Holy One, for Martin Luther King, Jr.
We thank you for all who have the vision and the courage to build the beloved community
where everyone is valued, power is shared, privilege is set aside,
and all creation knows your healing Presence and Peace.
In your many names we pray.  Amen

Langston Hughes
(for Helen Keller)

She, 
In the dark,
Found light
Brighter than many ever see.

She,
Within herself,
Found loveliness,
Through the soul's own master.
And now the world receives
From her dower:
The message of the strength
Of inner power.

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.