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Listen to the River

Listen to the river
echo in my heart.

On this St. Clair day,
I voyage upstream,
where elements of life abound.
Buoyant, refreshing moments
activate dangerous memories,
manifest in rainbows to the world.

From the channel bank,
my heart leaps
in sacred salutations
of wordless wisdom,
announcing news
of our planetary soul.

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Tall Trees

Trees so tall,
forest so deep,
the broken Earth
is why I weep.

On this wild day,
I listen to spirit speak,
in these silent woods.

Once more, I ask spirit
to whisper to us,
as sacred seekers,
to tell us what’s next
in this dark time,
to show us the way.

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Pledge Allegiance

I pledge allegiance
to preserve and protect
our common home,
to unite mind and heart,
to celebrate integral wisdom,
to bring hope and anticipation
to tomorrow
as if it were today.

I pledge allegiance
to this enduring quest
for a healed and wholesome world.
May we be one
with all that is unsolved
in our lives,
as ambivalence fades
into wonder
on each mysterious day.

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Our Tangled World

We live today
in a culture of unrest.
In politics and the evening news,
conflict, insult and turbulence unfold.

Almost every day,
week by week,
month by month,
year by year.

We feel the conflict in our hearts,
pain in the people,
as we sink more deeply
into each diminishing moment.

Now is the time
to live again,
to challenge the pulse
of each new day.

Rise above the problems
and heal the dismay.
Each day is an opportunity
to become entirely new.

Untangle the knots
of this tortured world.
Live with hope.
Enact a sacred time.

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Rise Again

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I pray today
that war and conflict may cease
and anger turn to compassion.

May violence turn to peace
and joy and sorrow
bring creation back to life.

There is no certainty ahead.
May those who are poor and lost
pray and hope to rise again.

For them,
tomorrow’s door is open.
Their future lies ahead.

May each and every soul
rejoice and rise again.

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Grow Your Soul

Flags at half mast,
children dying,
the pop-pop of bullets
shatter the silence.
Guns terrorize our land.

When will the madness cease,
assassins put away their guns
and pick up a paint brush instead?

Set your spirit free.
Let it splash across your empty page,
colors of freedom and peace.

I hear the young say,
“Never again.”
Listen to their voices.
Let violence cease.
Grow a soul of peace.

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Candles in the Night

Today the world appears
silent and uninviting
to so many dislocated souls.

They feel lost in a world
that promises nothing
but the illusion of power,
money and public acclaim.

Today I ask,
is it not true
that God is present
in secular experience?

Today I ask,
is it not true
that the prophets of yesterday
live on among us?

I think of
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Robert Kennedy,
Thomas Merton,
Oscar Romero
and so many more.

Their vision and courage
captivate our lives,
energize our souls.

Their spirits and wisdom
are candles in the night
to dispel the darkness
for each lost soul.

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Stories

I ask the swallow
singing in the meadow,
“What shall I say?”
Swallow answers,
“Tell them the story.”

I ask the deer
frolicking in the field,
“What shall I say?”
Deer calls back,
“Tell them the story.”

I ask the ancestors
gathered around,
“What shall I say?”
They answer back,
“Remember to tell our story.
Tell the story of every being,
from the birth of the universe
until now, and everything in between.”

Stories of courage.
Stories of beauty
and overflowing love.
Stories of wonder and surprise.
Stories of wisdom.
Stories from the heart
that were told before
yet are forever new.

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Mary Oliver

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Dear Mary Oliver,
voice of our earth
breath of beauty
on the day of your passing,
“I wake early.”

I remember your friends:
Molly, Percy, Wild Geese, Black Swan,
Summer Days, The Journey.
I ask again what I can do with my
“one wild and precious life.”

I treasure my memory
of the night at Dominican University
when you and Percy came to us
and taught us how to
pay attention' to the beauty of the world.

Thank you for your words,
thank you for your good advice.
May I honor you
with new beginnings,
bring beauty to the world.

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Spasm

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Long ago, in the final weeks of World War II, America dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. Loss of life was catastrophic. Planetary people awakened to a stark reality: if life was to continue on our Earth home, it would be necessary for nations to arrive at an agreement to disengage from nuclear warfare.

This defining moment led to the emergence of the Cold War. In subsequent years, there have been precarious moments when the unleashing of a nuclear bomb seemed imminent. However, in recent times, the threat of a hot nuclear war has been replaced by the lethal threat of ecological devastation.

Well-known system theorist Johanna Macy addressed this shifting threat in her writings. Her early work had titles such as Despair and Empowerment in the Nuclear Age, and her more recent works focus on the imminent threat of ecological devastation; for example, Coming Back to Life.

Cultural historian Thomas Berry suggested the same trajectory through his writings, such as The Dream of the Earth and The Great Work. His work challenges us to face the depth of our environmental crisis with statements like “the bomb has already gone off.” The attention to destruction of the planet entered a new phase with the publishing of Pope Francis’s letter to the world Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home.

The response to our endangered planet has resulted in “extinction spasms” of monumental proportions. The historic work Silent Spring has become a benchmark for the era that is now upon us. The awareness of this dangerous time has brought responses from many theologians and spiritual leaders. The diminishment of natural beauty has prompted some to say that species loss is like tearing a page from sacred scripture. For those of us who embrace a theological view —that creation is a book of primary revelation, that God is in all things, and all things are in God—the reality of species extinction leads us to a painful conclusion: it is possible to have death without a resurrection.

Each year in California, monarch butterflies gather in clusters only to be replaced next year by a new generation of butterflies. Now, these butterflies, along with many other species, are on the brink of extinction because of polluted water, toxic air, and poisoned earth. Some have suggested that our lives on planet Earth are beginning to resemble a lunar landscape, where the divine presence is diminished, and our souls are deprived of the beauty of God’s creation.

Today, before it is too late, we must enter a new time, a time when once again the spring of Rachel Carson can flow purely and abundantly.

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Wonder of Mystery

I arise today
from the clouds
of forgetfulness
and recent sleep,
liberated from the cell blocks
of past sorrow and regret.

I arise today
within the healing balm
of chrism
that trickles
across my wounded soul.

“Stay the course of courage,”
I hear wisdom say.
“Embrace fresh freedom,
remember those
who have gone before.”

I welcome mercy,
anticipate the morning,
stay awake and wonder
about mystery and soul.

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Silent Depths

Allow your heart to swell,
mind to open,
soul to grow.

Ponder the face of Jesus,
listen to Pope Francis,
discover God
in our flawed and fractured world.

Follow the promptings of the spirit
in the midst of each new moment,
experience the fireball in your heart.
From silent depths of wonder,
let flow the energy of love.

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Christmas Greeting

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Grow and flow,
grow and flow together,
oceans of energy
spirit of all life.

Expand, reach, pray
in this unimaginable moment.

On this unimaginable day,
when energy flows
to invigorate our souls,
all are welcome.

Earth speaks
with wonder and surprise.

Each new energetic moment
enlivens all that is.

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To the people of Springbank, Berkeley and Beyond,

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Dear Global Prophets,

Jesus of Bethlehem and the world are waiting for us to celebrate this sacred moment. Embraced by universal love, we give thanks for the cosmic and the personal as we join with our good companions, both long-standing and new.

You stir our hearts with joy and gratitude. In this age of anxiety, we celebrate and treasure the beauty, fresh energy, and zest for life that flow from your wisdom and your words.

We join together today as a community, buoyed by the conviction that each new tomorrow will be better than those that have passed.

Together we embrace the unfinished universe that awaits us, confident that the great story will guide us into a mutually enhancing time, one that will become the omega of our lives—the Universal Christ.

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Honoring Indigenous People on Thanksgiving

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In the San Francisco Bay Area, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated with the Indigenous People’s Sunrise Ceremony on Alcatraz Island as a way to highlight the shadow side of America’s history and the treatment of the First Nations/Native Americans.

Here at Springbank Retreat, we celebrate the indigenous people’s contribution to spiritual wisdom, which is much needed today. We gather to celebrate what we call “Saving God’s Creation Through the Eyes of Our Native Brothers and Sisters,” as we honor the indigenous mystics and prophets of yesterday and today. Among those whom we gratefully remember are Saint Rose of Lima (Peru), Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (America), and Black Elk, whose name is being brought forward for canonization.

In our celebration, we join our hearts and minds in gratitude for their gifts and values, which have been transmitted so generously to society and soul. Among these gifts is deep reverence for Mother Earth as our source of life and wisdom.

We honor all First Nations/Native Americans, who were the first ecologists and who teach us about the sacredness of all creation.

We celebrate the indigenous people, whose love and companionship with the natural world teach us that if animals perished on Earth, humanity would die of loneliness.

We give great thanks for our indigenous cousins of creation, whose stories, customs, and rituals remind us that God is manifest among us on sacred Earth in many ways.

We honor the wisdom of indigenous people here and around the world, and honor their spirits, which call us forth today.

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Restoration Blues

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WH Auden was right,
power corrupts,
and absolute power
corrupts absolutely.

We hear,
subvert the probe,
fear the caravan,
another mass shooting,
twelve more lives lost.

Yet today
democracy decides.
Women—black, white,
indigenous, Asian—
help flip the House.

Fresh hope rises.
Now is our time.
From sea to shining sea,
keep democracy alive.
May happiness shine.

Blessed be!
Amen! Alleluia!
Blessed be!

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Shelley

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Each day poses new questions.
So today I ask,
How can I engage the challenges and gifts
of each new day?

Shelley, my friend,
also has her quest
as she rejoices in each new moment
and navigates about the trees.

Then she returns to our humble hermitage,
where she finds friendship and food
and takes a long nap, following kibble,
and sleeps peacefully into the night.

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Tomorrow We Vote

I see more clearly now,
peering through the marine layer
over San Francisco Bay
this Monday afternoon.

Today my vision becomes clearer
through the fog of news
that scatters truth and wisdom
to the wind.

Today I come home again
to what is just and true,
celebrate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
from the halls of democratic peace.

Again I hear the clarion call,
from the streets of California to the halls of Congress.
We say out loud again,
“Today we march, tomorrow we vote.”

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I Feel Called

I know that poverty must cease.
I know this through the brokenness
and conflict in my heart.

I know that protest
is my most prophetic act.

I feel called today
to bring people together
to break bread and tell the story.

I feel called today
to listen to the heartbreak of our broken world
and celebrate the wonder of creation.

I feel called today to fall in love,
to feel at home,
to be touched by God.

I feel called
to compose a new paragraph
for life.

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Restoration

What do you want to tell us, Earth?
We humans, I mean,
who walk upon your face,
so replete with cosmic beauty.
You have many lessons to share,
burdens we must bear.

I join in your sorrow
for the children who tonight
will die of hunger,
sorrow for the lobotomies of extraction
that ravage your mountain tops
and leave an ugly scar.

I pray today for the compost of your soul,
the genesis of a great Easter moment
when you will be restored,
and all your offspring
will once again rise up in gentle beauty
to sanctify a better day.

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