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Benedictions

All text written by Cynthia Stewart
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Gilgamesh/The True Companion

Gilgamesh awaited the companion of his heart. May our waiting be joyful and our longing fulfilled as the sisters and brothers of our past accompany us into our future. Go in peace.

Gilgamesh/The Hero's Quest

If you see a dragon on your way home, do not slay it. Ask the dragon to share his warmth with you.

If you meet a monster in your travels, do not fight it. Ask the monster to teach you strength and courage.

If you see a pirate’s treasure hidden beneath a stone, do not steal it. Find the pirate and ask him to learn generosity with you.

And if you see a friend by the side of the road, do not ignore her. Share warmth and courage and generosity with her, even if your friend looks like a stranger.

Gilgamesh/The Path of Grief

Suffering is a part of us,
as human as the caress of a beloved’s hand on our face
or the squeeze of a baby’s tiny fingers.
Grief calls us out of what we know,
rattles the ground of our existence
and shifts the landscape
to something we no longer recognize.
But surely the death which sparks it
is nothing more
than the touch of the infinite reaching into the finite,
an inbreaking of the inevitable
into our world of the possible.
So let a world-encompassing love sustain us
until we are inevitably taken with grief,
and let a cleansing grief sustain us
until we are once again ready to be encompassed by a world of love.
Peace in your going, and in your return.

Gilgamesh/Time and Season

We travel in search of heroic adventures or wild amusements or simple diversions, but the truth of our lives is in the day-to-day, if we will but see it. The joy with which we approach our work, the love we give to those gathered around us, the gentleness with which we behold children – these are truly the measures of our lives, simple, ephemeral and beautiful. Go in peace.

Gilgamesh/The Water Rose Higher

Stream meanders into river.
River rushes into sea.
Sea melds seamlessly with ocean.

Each element is perfect on its own
and yet only complete when it meets the other.

May the waters guide us to our singular perfections
and our completeness in community.

Genesis/Creation and Destruction

If flood pulls you under the water,
   If fire burns you into ash,
      If the ground opens beneath your feet
         Or mountains crumble around your head,
                   Know always
         That water gives life,
      And fire opens paths for new growth,
   That earthquakes destroy what lacked stability
And falling rocks create new sculptures on the horizon.

Here we have an ending.
We will find a new beginning
When we gather together again.

Genesis/Abraham: Journey of Doubt and Faith

When hard times come and like Abram you must walk through Egypt, remember to hold to what you know. Do not give up what is most dear to you out of fear, and do not forget your ideals for the lure of material gain. For in the end, when the hard times pass and you walk once more out of Egypt, it is the touch of your loved one and the vision of your ideals that will remain precious to you. Go in peace.

Genesis/Joseph: Dreaming the Dream

Our dreams may call us to greatness,
or to simplicity;
to service,
or to silence.

Whatever dreams you dream this night,
may they call you live the truth inside you
and to love the world around you.

And may our dreams of community be remembered
when it is time for us to gather again.

Genesis/Jacob and Esau: Betrayal and Forgiveness

This is a tale of two brothers,
one a robust man of the fields, the other quiet and clever.
One working hard at the appointed task, the other succeeding through trickery.
And yet
it is the trickster who fears, knowing his brother has just cause to hate.
But the one who was deceived, he comes with open arms
and meets his brother with cries of joy.

Who are you, and who do you want to be?
The successful trickster who lives in fear,
or the one who experiences betrayal and yet forgives?
Who are you, Jacob or Esau?
Who do you want to be?

Biblical prophets/Jeremiah: How Long Will the Land Mourn?

The house of the Lord is not a temple or a shrine,
     not a mosque or church,
     not a synagogue or gurdwara.
It is the place where a kind word is spoken,
     where a sorrow is consoled,
where justice is spread wide
     and compassion is open as the skies.
It is where we seek our highest ideals
     and give our deepest loves.

The house of the divine is where we are most human.

May each of our houses
     become a house of the Lord.

Biblical prophets/Ezekiel: From Heart of Stone to Heart of Flesh

We have all felt the judgment;
     Let us all know the hope.
We have all fallen under the weight of our own cares;
     Let us all arise with renewed courage.
We have all come together to hear prophetic words;
     Let us all leave with the knowledge of love and acceptance wound tightly
     into our hearts.

Biblical prophets/The Book of the Twelve: Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters

Much of life is difficult, but the prophet Micah reminds us that the instructions for being in harmony with God are very simple: do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.

So let the work of justice be ever at hand in the days to come, and let kind words fill our heads and hearts so that they will also fill our speech and actions. As we walk beyond these doors, let us remember our connection to each other, to our world, and to this amazing universe of which we are a part.

And let us remember that connection each amazing day of our lives.

Biblical prophets/Isaiah: Touch of the Burning Coal

The prophet’s path is not an easy one. Too often reviled for speaking truth to power and power to the powerless, still the prophet continues in the ways of righteousness. She holds up the banner of justice, and asks each of us to measure ourselves against it.

As you move beyond these walls and into your days, let your life become this banner, so that others may look to you for the measure of justice, and goodness, and truth.

Go in peace.

Gospels/Coming soon!
Qur'an/Allah and the Prophet

Our Muslim brothers and sisters proclaim, “There is no god but Allah.”
Our Christian brothers and sisters proclaim, “No one is good but God alone.”
Our Jewish brothers and sisters proclaim, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

May we proclaim the truth that we see, the divine that we experience, and the compassion that we learn.

Qur'an/Truly There Are Signs

In a world full of rhythms,
we watch the rising and setting of the sun,
the waxing and waning of the moon.

In a world full of movement,
we see the rise and fall of nations,
the dawning and passing of each life.

In a world full of noise,
we hear the words of prophets and sages,
and the whispers within our own souls.

Nature, history, revelation: the signs are everywhere.
In all that we see and do, may we discover the presence of mystery and the call to goodness.

Qur'an/Gather Us Together

If every twig and branch
      of every tree in every forest
            throughout the wide, wide world
                  were carved into pens,

And every drop of water
      in every river and sea
            and all the wild, wild oceans
                  were dyed into ink,

And if all of these pens
      filled with all of this ink
            were used to write down

All of the visions and declarations of holiness
      that the world has ever known

Still it would not suffice
      to tell of all the holiness
            that the divine has inscribed into the world.

Qur'an/Steadfastness and Compassion

May the value of virtue accompany you this day.
May a commitment to compassion mark your actions.
May a steadfastness of spirit be the sign of your presence.
And may the holy hold you virtuously, steadfastly and compassionately in arms of love.

Qur'an/Stories of the Prophets

     Go and punch a hole in the boatload of your possessions today, so that you may keep what is truly of value. Build up walls for someone who does not deserve it, so that the treasure of truth may spring forth in the fullness of time. Be guided by reason, but do not be blindered by it, for no person’s reason encompasses the whole of what is and what can be.
     These are the prophetic words that are spoken to us this day; may our ears and hearts be open to them.

Rumi and Kabir/Coming soon!
Bhagavad Gita/Truth Beyond Despair

“You were never born,” says Krishna, “you will never die.”
But still, you must choose to live.
Let devotion, not despair, be your guide.
Let engagement, not indifference, be your action.
Choose to live in devotion to your truth and engagement with your cause
until we choose to come together again.

          OM shanti shanti shanti

Bhagavad Gita/The Path of Selfless Service

If today you let joy rather than pleasure be your guide;
     if you let a service rendered with no thought of return take precedence over one where payment is demanded;
if you let the holy act within and through you;
     if you make even the tiniest difference in the life of even the tiniest being;
if you go to your rest satisfied that you have done these things,
     then may you rise again tomorrow and do them once again.

OM shanti shanti shanti

Bhagavad Gita/The Path of Meditation

May knowledge of your infinite Self and its infinite union with the infinite, unending, Ultimate Reality guide you in times of fullness and sustain you in times of trial. Blessings on your footsteps as they carry you down your path.

OM shanti shanti shanti

Bhagavad Gita/The Path of Devotion

Every ending, we are told, is but an illusion, for what is real is beyond end and beyond beginning. Our worship, in all its limited, brilliant, mortal beauty comes to an end here, but our love, without end and without beginning, abides forever.

As it comes from within each of us, may each of us strive to live this love for others in the days to come. As it comes from beyond each of us, may each of us feel held in the warmth of this love in the days to come.

OM shanti shanti shanti

Bhagavad Gita/The Path of Wisdom

Let your footsteps fall lightly today, knowing that the ground you walk on is holy.
Let your touch fall gently today, knowing that the friend or stranger you touch is holy.
Let your eyes rest peacefully in the mirror today, knowing that the being you see is holy.

OM shanti shanti shanti

Upanishads/The Self in All

Go in peace.
Go in wisdom.
Go in knowledge of the Self.
Go in fullness of the divine.
Go in mindfulness of our connection.
Go in understanding that all of these are One.

OM shanti shanti shanti

Upanishads/Brahman, The Lord of Love

If you wish to find Brahman, you must search the scriptures.
If you wish to understand scriptures, you must seek a teacher.
If you wish to find a teacher, you must look for wisdom.
If you wish to encounter wisdom, you must recognize truth.
If you wish to perceive truth, you must look within yourself.

And there you will find Brahman.

OM shanti shanti shanti

Upanishads/The One Becomes Many

You are a part of the limitless whole,
     the creation and the destruction,
     the death and the rebirth.
You are a creature come straight from the divine,
     with the divine ability to dream a new thing into being.

Go now into the world created for us, the world that we continue to create with our actions.
And as you go, dream wisely.

OM shanti shanti shanti

Upanishads/Control, Compassion, Generosity

Scripture tells us that OM is the sound that created the universe, the sound that reverberates in the heartbeat of every human.

What, I wonder, is the sound that creates your world? The silence of a sunrise? The laughter of a child? A strain of music, the words of a poem, the whisper of a loved one?

Whatever it may be, may you listen today to the sound of your world being created anew and know it as the sound of Spirit.

OM shanti shanti shanti

Dhammapada/The House of Impermanence

This world of lies and truth destroys us with its cares yet binds us with its golden threads
     So hard it is to step without – so hard it is to remain within
Those we love and hate ensnare us with the joy and pain of their tempestuous presence
     So hard it is to hold them close – so hard it is to leave them behind
The peace beyond tumult and care, beyond exhaustion and pleasure, beyond torment and desire
     It waits quietly for our arrival

On that day, we understand the world of lies and truth as a dream
   On that day, we accept those we love and hate in the truth of their being

      On that day, we leave suffering behind forevermore

Dhammapada/The Fetter of Desire

Conquer your cravings,
Dig up your compulsive urges,
Set yourself free from selfish desires.
How to accomplish these lofty goals?
One day, one moment, one thought at a time.

Dhammapada/Joy Like the Bright Gods

May joy walk with you as you leave this place;
May your footsteps fall on the ground of compassion;
May your gaze rest on a horizon of hope;
May a cloud of prayers swirl around you,
And the touch of the divine rest upon you. 

And in the touch of your own hand on another’s face or arm or life this day
May the other find joy, and compassion, and hope, and a cloud of prayers.

Dhammapada/Training the Mind

What wisdom you gained here today, let it add to the wisdom of your mind.
What happiness you gained here today, let it add to the happiness of your heart.
What health you gained here today, let it add to the health of your spiritual life.

For the wisdom of your mind allows you to see the world with truth,
     the happiness of your heart tells you to fill the world with love,

     and the health of your spiritual life gives you strength to mold the world with compassion.

Heart and Lotus Sutras/Turning the Wheel of the Law: The Lotus Sutra

The Buddha calls us to extinguish all desires. If we cannot extinguish them all, may we extinguish one desire that brings us grief.

The Buddha calls us to compassion for all beings. If we cannot find compassion for all, may we feel compassion for one being more than yesterday.

The Buddha calls us to recognize the Ultimate Truth. If we cannot see to the heart of this Truth, may we recognize the smaller truths of love and kindness that are woven through our days.

Let us be where we are, go where we must, and travel our chosen paths in peace.

Heart and Lotus Sutras/The Heart of Compassion: The Lotus Sutra

May you find the rare treasure you seek, but may your eyes not be so blinded by treasure that you cannot see truth.

May you experience comfort on the way, but may your arms not be so laden with comfort that you cannot lift a hand to help others.

With eyes of truth and hands of service, go now into the world.

Heart and Lotus Sutras/ Defined by Emptiness: The Heart Sutra

With the form you have taken, go out into the world.

With the emptiness that lies within it, go deep into the mystery.

Within the many lines and threads that come together to form who you are, find the lines and threads that lead to truth.

Within the truth that encompasses all, find the compassion to share it with others.

 

Tao Te Ching/The Call to Non-Action

May your doing arise from understanding, not struggle.
May your not doing arise from acceptance, not ignorance.
May you have the vision of simplicity in the midst of complication.
May you move through difficulty as water passes through a sieve.
In all things, in all ways, may harmony guide your hand, heart and mind.

Tao Te Ching/The Good Life

Virtue in our lives and respect in our interactions; contentment in our hearts and peace in our cities. It is we who bring these into the world, we who choose in every moment whether to stake out our demands or flow into harmony, whether to flutter after pleasure or turn our hands to peace. May our thoughts be wise, our actions pure and our hearts content as we make our choices each day.

Tao Te Ching/Darkness within Darkness

Go out in the midst of the ten thousand things, but remember the unity that is their source, and yours. May tranquility guide your steps until they return to this place.

Analects/New Topic