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About the Author
Maggie Oman Shannon is a spiritual director and writer. She is the author of One God, Shared Hope and The Way We Pray, editor of Prayers for Healing and coauthor of A String and a Prayer. She lives in San Francisco.
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Prayers for Healing
365 Blessings, Poems, & Meditations from Around the World
By Maggie Oman
Red/Wheel Weiser, LLCCopyright © 1997 Maggie Oman
All rights reserved.
In the beginning was the Tao.
All things issue from it;
all things return to it.
To find the origin,
trace back the manifestations.
When you recognize the children
and find the mother,
you will be free of sorrow.
If you close your mind in judgments
and traffic with desires,
your heart will be troubled.
If you keep your mind from judging
and aren't led by the senses,
your heart will find peace.
Seeing into darkness is clarity.
Knowing how to yield is strength.
Use your own light
and return to the source of light.
This is called practicing eternity.
Translated by Stephen Mitchell
December 22 English novelist George Eliot
(Mary Ann Evans)
dies in 1880
May I reach
That purest heaven, be to other souls
The cup of strength in some great agony,
Enkindle generous ardour, feed pure love,
Be the sweet presence of a good diffused,
And in diffusion ever more intense!
So shall I join the choir invisible
Whose music is the gladness of the world.
The tree in winter is like The lines upon my father's face
Or like the paths I tried to take
When I was young searching
For one clear way to understanding.
In every branch I found
A smaller branch leading me
Toward many ends and many sorrows.
Too fragile to bear my weight,
All my branches broke
And I fell to the earth confused.
I saw the tree in winter
Reaching toward the sky
With bare branches tangled
Like so many paths and yet
Each path had a purpose,
Leading back to the roots of the tree.
How wonderful, O 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 splendor.
The sun and the starts, 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.
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the gentle moon and joyful stars, that watch over the darkest night. You are the source of all peace, reconciling the whole universe to the Father. You are the source of all rest, calming troubled hearts, and bringing sleep to weary bodies. You are the sweetness that fills our minds with quiet joy, and can turn the worst nightmares into dreams of heaven. May I dream of your sweetness, rest in your arms, be at one with your Father, and be comforted in the knowledge that you always watch over me.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning is a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Translated by Coleman Barks
Now that the sun has set,
I sit and rest, and think of you.
Give my weary body peace.
Let my legs and arms stop aching.
Let my nose stop sneezing,
Let my head stop thinking.
Let me sleep in your arms.
—Dinka, date unknown
From that which we fear, make us fearless.
O bounteous One, assist us with your aid.
May the atmosphere we breathe
breathe fearlessness into us:
fearlessness on earth
and fearlessness in heaven!
May fearlessness surround us
above and below!
May we be without fear
by night and by day!
Let all the world be my friend!
—Atharva Veda XIX
Infinite Spirit, when I pray each day
for shelter for the homeless,
let me not ignore the pet without a home;
As I ask for protection for those in areas
of turmoil and unrest,
let me not forget endangered species of life;
When I pray that the hungry be fed,
let me be mindful
that all God's creatures have need of sustenance;
As I ask Divine assistance for those afflicted
by fire, flood, earthquake, storm or drought,
let me remember that this includes every living thing;
In seeking miracle cures for human disease,
may I also speak for the well-being of the planet itself.
Let the words of my mouth,
the meditations of my heart
and the actions of my life be as one,
that I may live each day in harmony
with Mother Earth. Amen.
—Jennie Frost Butler
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand
And chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security.
And you begin to learn
That kisses aren't compromises
And presents aren't promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes ahead
With the grace of a woman or a man
Not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your loads on today
Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in midflight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if
you ask too much.
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting for someone to buy you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
That you really are strong.
And you really do have worth.
And you learn.
And you learn.
With every failure you learn.
The last day of what has been an uneasy and painful year for me. I look forward to dawn tomorrow and, as the days get longer, to begin to feel my way into renascence. It is not strange though it is mysterious that our "New Year" comes at the darkest time in the seasonal cycle. When there is personal darkness, when there is pain to be overcome, when we are forced to renew ourselves against all the odds, the psychic energy required simply to survive has tremendous force, as great as that of a bulb pushing up through icy ground in spring, so after the overcoming, there is extra energy, a flood of energy that can go into creation.
New Year's Day
We look with uncertainty
Beyond the old choices for
To a softer, more permeable aliveness
Which is every moment
At the brink of death;
For something new is being born in us
If we but let it.
We stand at a new doorway,
Awaiting that which comes ...
Daring to be human creatures.
Vulnerable to the beauty of existence.
Learning to love.
There is nothing I can give you
which you do have not;
But there is much, very much, that
while I cannot give it, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts
find rest in today. Take heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden
in this present instant. Take peace!
The gloom of the world is but a shadow.
Behind it, yet within reach, is joy.
There is a radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see,
and to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look.
Help me to let go of my preoccupations with the future.
Give me the strength to stop
my futile attempts
to predict and control the future.
Let me see no value in my plan of what the future should be.
Rid me of my senseless questions about tomorrow
And of all my desires to manipulate and control others.
Remind me that my fears and uncertainties
of tomorrow are only related to
my unfounded fear of You.
Help me be still help me listen and love.
Awaken me to the truth of Your Presence being only in the now of this moment.
Lift me up into Your Arms
and remind me that I am Your Creation,
and that I am the Perfection of Love.
Help me to acknowledge that I am Your Messenger
of Love, and free me to shine
Your Light everywhere.
Let me feel Your Freedom within me, and
let me laugh at the illusions
that my ego once made
me feel were so real.
Let me be the Light; let me be joy; let me know
that I am
the reflection of You wherever I am,
and wherever I go.
—Gerald G. Jampolsky
The world is new each morning—that is God's gift, and a man should believe he is reborn each day.
—Israel Ben Eliezer
TODAY—Mend a quarrel. Search out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a love letter. Share some treasure. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in a word or a deed.
TODAY—Keep a promise. Find the time. Forego a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Listen. Apologize if you were wrong. Try to understand. Flout envy. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Appreciate, be kind, be gentle. Laugh a little more.
TODAY—Deserve confidence. Take up arms against malice. Decry complacency. Express your gratitude. Worship your God. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak it again. Speak it still again. Speak it still once again.
Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and apply the Art of Peace to all that you encounter.
Excerpted from Prayers for Healing by Maggie Oman. Copyright © 1997 Maggie Oman. Excerpted by permission of Red/Wheel Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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LETTER OF THE HEART