The Interfaith Contact Group
The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group

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Encountering Blessings and Snow on the Spiritual Journey

February 10, 2021

As the pandemic unfolds it seems that spiritual inspiration can play an important and useful part in our lives. The alarming uncertainties going on around us can be eased by prayer, reflection and meditation… and a simple blessing can soothe the soul. And so, this week’s Words of Connection is dedicated to grace and blessings… with a touch of snow.

The first reading set the tone for the selection; it’s a blessing by Rabbi Warren Stone, and is thoroughly interfaith in spirit. The second blessing might be considered more suitable for the summer, but it’s so charming, it just seemed a good idea to remind ourselves of the warmer months. It’s an ode to an insect — the cicada, and was written by Anacreon, the Greek lyric poet about 2,500 years ago. In total contrast we have a blessing by John O’Donohue, dedicated to the Inner History of the Day.

It would be impossible to overlook the snow, and so we close with two very different snow poems; one is by Emily Brontë, the other by the American poet Billy Collins.

The link in this week’s Words of Connection is something different again. It was given to me by my sister-in-law Eileen Prisley. It’s 30 minutes of relaxing visuals from Studio Ghibli, and serves as a wonderful reminder of the dazzling skills of the Japanese animators… and their compassionate and profoundly spiritual films.    https://youtu.be/z9Ug-3qhrwY

Please take care in this weather. Snow and ice can be treacherous, even if they do look beautiful.

Very best wishes, and blessings,

Anthea
Chair IFCG

 

SOURCE OF ALL BLESSINGS; PRAYER AND MEDIATION
Rabbi Warren Stone

Source of All Blessings
I am Grateful
for My life
for the Blessings
of
My breath
the beating of My heart

Source of All Blessings
I am Grateful
for Beloved Ones who
share life with me
those in our world beside me
and those in worlds beyond my knowing

Source of All Blessings
I am Grateful
to share life with our Human Family
Jewish, Christian, Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh
May we walk gently upon our Earth

Source of All Blessings
I am Grateful
to be one with All Creation
the flight of birdwings
the swirling of blueshoals oceans deep
the runnings of wilderness creatures
the sway of forests green

Source of All Blessing
I am Grateful
to be part of the spiralling
of all space and time
beyond my imagination
Yes and again, Yes I am grateful
to always be here
where else could I go?
For all this and more
I am Grateful

Light and Darkness, night and day.
We marvel at the mystery of the stars.
Moon and sky, sand and sea.
We marvel at the mystery of the sun.
Twilight, high noon, dusk and dawn.
Though we are mortal, we are Creation’s crown.
Flesh and bone, steel and stone.
We dwell in fragile, temporary shelters.
Grant steadfast love, compassion, grace.
Sustain us, Lord; our origin is duest.
Splendor, mercy, majesty, love endure.
We are but little lower than the angels.
Resplendent skies, sunset, sunrise.
The grandeur of Creation lifts our lives.
Evening darkness, morning dawn.
Renew our lives as You renew all time.

 

ODE TO THE CICADA
Anacreon (c 582 – 485 BC)

We bless you,
Dwelling high in the trees,
Drinking a little dew,
And singing like a king.

What you see is all yours
In the gentle meadows
Or the woods – home to the bears
Friend of the farmer,
You injure no-one;
And men honour
Your sweet summer music.
The Muses love you too…

Apollo himself
Gave you your flawless song –
Wise earth child.
Old age doesn’t spoil you
Carefree and blood free;
You are like a god.

 

BLESSING FOR THE INNER HISTORY OF A DAY
John O’Donohue (1956-2008)

No one knew the name of this day;
Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that traveled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way.

The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.

 

SPELLBOUND
Emily Brontë (1818-1848)

The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.
The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.
Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

 

 

SNOW DAY
Billy Collins

Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows

the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.

In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.

But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,
as glad as anyone to hear the news

that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,
the Ding-Dong School, closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—

the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and—clap your hands—the Peanuts Play School.

So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.

And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting,
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.