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The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group


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Cosmic Kinship in Prayer and Poetry

March 10, 2021

We have all seen the image of the earth from space, ever since it was first photographed by the Apollo 8 astronauts just over 50 years ago. Today the image of the blue marble has become enshrined in our minds and out hearts. For those of us that are spiritual, it’s an image to cherish and bless, for others it’s just a picture of an evolutionary planet. Whatever one’s view, the blue planet is an object of beauty… and for some of us, it’s an object of spiritual inspiration, and meditation.

This week’s Words of Connection is dedicated to those moments when we view our world from a distance, and equally… ourselves from a distance. It’s about being detached, stepping outside of ourselves, and seeing the world from above, or by taking on another viewpoint as a way to feel closer to each other and the universe. It’s as if by stepping outside our own four walls, we gain unexpected insights to everything around us. We open with a wonderful prayer by the author and educator Anne Hillman.  This is followed by The Canticle of the Sun by St Francis of Assisi. In contrast we have a poem by the 20thCentury Japanese poet Kenji Miyazawa called Strong in the Rain, translated by Roger Pulvers. Kenji lived a short life and is now revered as one of Japan’s most loved poets. He was strongly influenced by Buddhism and the forces of nature. His poem is followed by a reading by the 13th Century Spanish Rabbi and Kabbalist Moses de León on the Journey of the Soul. The cosmic tone of Chapter 34 from Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching complements this week’s link – A Space Journey – with images taken from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Once more, thank you for your support and interest in Words of Collection.

I do hope that the limitations of the pandemic do not cause you too much discomfort, and above all, stay well,

Very best wishes

Chair IFCG



Anne Hillman

We are all on a journey together…
To the center of the universe…
Look deep
Into yourself, into another.
It is to a centre which is everywhere
That is the holy journey…
First you need only look:
Notice and honor the radiance of
Everything about you…
Play in this universe. Tend
All these shining things around you;
The smallest plant, the creatures and
Objects in your care.
Be gentle and nurture. Listen…
As we experience and accept
All that we really are…
We grow in care.
We begin to embrace others
As ourselves, and learn to live
As one among many.


St Francis of Assisi


Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour, and all blessing.

To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendour!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those who will
find Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.[3]


Kenji Miyazawa (1896 – 1930)


Strong in the rain
Strong in the wind
Strong against the summer heat and snow
He is healthy and robust
Free from desire
He never loses his temper
Nor the quiet smile on his lips
He eats four go of unpolished rice
Miso and a few vegetables a day
He does not consider
In whatever occurs… his understanding
Comes from observation and experience
And he never loses sight of things
He lives in a little thatched-roof hut
In a field in the shadows of a pine tree grove
If there is a sick child in the east
He goes there to nurse the child
If there is a tired mother in the west
He goes to her and carries her sheaves
If someone is near death in the south
He goes and says “Don’t be afraid”
If there are strife and lawsuits in the north
He demands that the people put an end to the pettiness
He weeps at the time of drought
He plods about at a loss during the cold summer
Everyone calls him Blockhead
No one sings his praises
Or takes him to heart…

This is the kind of person
I want to be


Moses DeLeón (1240-1305)

The purpose of the soul entering this body is to display her powers and actions in this world, for she needs an instrument. By descending to this world, she increases the flow of her power to guide the human being through the world. Thereby she perfects herself above and below, attaining a higher state by being fulfilled in all dimensions. If she is not fulfilled both above and below, she is not complete.

Before descending to this world, the soul is emanated from the mystery of the highest level. While in this world, she is completed and fulfilled by this lower world. Departing this world, she is filled with the fullness of all worlds, the world above and the world below.

At first, before descending to this world, the soul is imperfect; she is lacking something. By descending to this world, she is perfected in every dimension.


Translated by Stephen Mitchell


The great Tao flows everywhere.
All things are born from it,
yet it doesn’t create them.
It pours itself into its work,
yet it makes no claim.
It nourishes infinite worlds,
yet it doesn’t hold onto them.
Since it is merged with all things
and hidden in their hearts,
it can be humble.

Since all things vanish into it
and it alone endures,
it can be called great.
It isn’t aware of its greatness;
thus it is truly great.