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This week our readings and prayers for Words of Connection address a number of spiritual issues including guilt and prayer. Many good people in our City feel that they are not doing enough to support the work of the NHS and others in combatting the effects of the lockdown. In the words of the great Maya Angelou “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anyone.” Holding this thought in mind, our first reading by Mary Oliver – The Journey – reminds us why it is so important that we care for ourselves.
The second reading is for those that may have concerns about prayer. It comes from the great Julian of Norwich from her work Revelations of Divine Love.
In addition to this we have inspirational Buddhist and Baha’i readings and a beautiful Jewish prayer.
Once more, please feel free to stay in touch, and continue to send us your wonderful thoughts and offerings.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.
JULIAN OF NORWICH ON PRAYER
From Revelations of Divine Love
Sometimes we feel uncertainty in prayer, and approaching God in prayer was something that Julian of Norwich (1342-1416) knew about. In her book Revelations of Divine Love, she says…
Often we do not trust God fully for it seems to us that, because of our unworthiness, and because we are feeling absolutely nothing, we cannot be certain that he is hearing our prayers. For often we are as barren and dry after our prayers … and so we feel our folly is the cause of a weakness; I have felt like this myself.
And our Lord brought all this suddenly into my mind, strongly and vividly, and, as a comfort to me against this kind of weakness in prayers, he said ‘I am the foundation of your prayers: first it is my will that you should have something, and I make you desire it, and then I make you pray for it; and if you pray, then how could it be that you should not have what you pray for?’…For it is God’s will that we should pray, and he moves us to do so… He wants us to pray with sure trust, for prayer pleases him. Prayer gives man pleasure in himself, and makes him calm and humble, where before he was contentious and troubled. Prayer unites us all to God.
TURNING TO THE TATHAGATA (BUDDHA)
We your spiritual children for countless past lives,
Have chased after worldly things,
Unable to recognise the clear, pure basis of our true mind.
Our actions of body, speech, and mind have been unwholesome.
We have drowned in ignorant cravings, jealousy, hatred and anger.
But now the sound of the great bell has caused us to awaken
With a heart that is determined to renew our body and our mind.
Please help us completely remove the red dust of all
The wrongdoings, mistakes, and faults.
We, your spiritual children in this moment,
Make the vow to leave all our habit energies behind,
And for the whole of our life to go for refuge to the ‘Sangha’
Awakened one, please place your hand over us in protection
So that loving kindness and compassion will guide and assist us.
May our heart’s garden of awakening
Bloom with hundreds of flowers.
May we bring the feelings of peace and joy into every household.
May we plant wholesome seeds on ten thousand paths.
May we never attempt to escape the suffering of the world,
Always being present wherever beings need our help.
May mountains and rivers be our witness in this moment
As we bow our heads and request the Lord of Compassion to embrace us all.
From the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá.
Your souls are as waves on the sea of the spirit; although each individual is a distinct wave, the ocean is one, all are united in God. Every heart should radiate unity, so that the Light of the one Divine Source of all may shine forth bright and luminous. We must not consider the separate waves alone, but the entire sea. We should rise from the individual to the whole. The spirit is as one great ocean and the waves thereof are the souls of men.
How wonderful, Oh Lord, are the works of your hands!
The heavens declare Your glory,
the arch of sky displays Your handiwork.
In Your Love You have given us the power
To behold the beauty of Your world
robed in all its splendour.
The sun and the stars, the valleys and hills,
the rivers and lakes all disclose your presence.
The roaring breakers of the sea tell of Your awesome might;
the beasts of the field and the birds of the air
bespeak your wondrous will.
In Your Goodness You have made us able to hear
the music of the world. The voices of loved ones
reveal to us that You are in our midst.
A divine voice sings through all creation.