Open your hands before God

To pray means to open your hands before God. It means slowly relaxing the tension that squeezes your hands together and accepting your existence with an increasing readiness, not as a possession to defend, but as a gift to receive. Above all, prayer is a way of life that allows you to find stillness in the midst of the world where you open your hands to God’s promises and find hope for yourself, your neighbor, and your world. In prayer, you encounter God not only in the small voice and the soft breeze, but also in the midst of the turmoil of the world, in the distress and joy of your neighbor, and in the loneliness of your own heart. Prayer leads you to see new paths and to hear new melodies in the air. Prayer is the breath of your life that gives you freedom to go and to stay where you wish, to find the many signs that point out the way to a new land. Praying is not simply some necessary compartment in the daily schedule of a Christian or a source of support in a time of need, nor is it restricted to Sunday mornings or mealtimes. Praying is living. It is eating and drinking, acting and resting, teaching and learning, playing and working. Praying pervades every aspect of our lives. It is the unceasing recognition that God is wherever we are, always inviting us to come closer and to celebrate the divine gift of being alive. In the end, a life of prayer is a life with open hands—a life where we need not be ashamed of our weaknesses but realize that it is more perfect for us to be led by the Other than to try to hold everything in our own hands. – Henri Nouwen

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The End – Mark Strand

Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.

When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky

Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.

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Alcohol by Franz Wright

But we can do something about that, now.
Can’t we.
The fact is you’re a shocking wreck.
Do you hear me.
You aren’t all alone.
And you could use some help today, packing in the
dark, boarding buses north, putting the seat back and
grinning with terror flowing over your legs through
your fingers and hair . . .
I was always waiting, always here.
Know anyone else who can say that.
My advice to you is think of her for what she is:
one more name cut in the scar of your tongue.
What was it you said, “To rather be harmed than
harm, is not abject.”
Please.
Can we be leaving now.
We like bus trips, remember. Together
we could watch these winter fields slip past, and
never care again,
think of it.
I don’t have to be anywhere

The Little Birds of St. Francis

pexels-photo-436790.jpegThe little birds fly to ask me what I have seen in the heavens: I saw your little souls longing. – Tadeusz Micinski

Our feeble wings
knock against
a blue windowpane, Lord.
We wait, we sing
every day at your door.

We gaze at the sun,
above the trees flutter
and sing since the dawn.
Are we forever
to linger on earth
in this world of yours, Lord?

There is no penance,
Is there no reward?
Lost in our own song,
one day of the year
among the trees, we’ll expire,
entangled in the leaves.

The wind will lift us,
the earth will receive us
burying the dry wings.
Will none of us, Lord
sing in the heavens
facing your throne?

Is not our singing,
pleasing to you, Lord?
Our singing choose,
Our waiting use.
From the unknown,
deliver the birds on high, Lord.

From the ends of the earth
unbounded and vast,
from pine and beech
from our home
we’ll fly, we’ll flutter
to your side, Lord.

Whatever your will –
too deep for the birds –
on earth and in heaven
your eyes to please,
your smile to see,
we wing, crowding the trees.

– Jerzy Liebert