Old Rabbi’s Instruction (traditional)
The Divine Image, William Blake
Girl From Ipanema, Joao Gilberto
Thomas Merton, Vision in the Louisville Shopping District
The Spirit Likes to Dress Up, Mary Oliver
The Kingdom of God, Jesus
The Water Is Silent, Rabindranath Tagore
A Psalm of Life, Henry Wandsworth Longfellow
To A Stranger, Walt Whitman
I Want Both of Us, Hafez
Like This, Rumi
Why Should I Wish To See God, Walt Whitman
The Seed Cracked Open, Hafez
Some Keep The Sabbath, Emily Dickinson

* * *

Your Mother and My Mother, Hafez
Steven Spender, The Truly Great


 
 
 

Old Rabbi’s Instruction
(traditional)

An old Hasidic rabbi asked his pupils how you can tell when the night has ended and the day has begun, so you know
when to say the prayer for the new day.

“Is it,” said one student, “when you can see an animal and tell whether it is a sheep or a dog?” “No,” answered the Rabbi.

“Is it,” said another student, “when you can make out a tree in the distance and tell if it is a fig tree or pear tree?” “No,” said the Rabbi.

“Is it,” said a third student, “when you can see the lines in the palm of your hand?” “No,” said the Rabbi.

“Then when is it?” asked the students.

“It is when you can look on the face of any man or woman and see that they are your sister or brother. Until then it is still night.”

 
 
 

The Divine Image
by William Blake

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.

 
 
 

Girl From Ipanema
by Joao Gilberto

You should get the text from another source.

 
 
 

Thomas Merton, Vision in the Louisville Shopping District

You should get the text from another source.

 
 
 

The Spirit Likes to Dress Up
by Mary Oliver

You should get the text from another source.

 
 
 

The Kingdom of God
by Jesus

Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there!
for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
(Luke 17’21).

 
 
 

The Water is Silent
by Rabindranath Tagore
(translated)

The fish in the water are silent,
the animals on the earth are noisy,
the birds in the air are singing.
But man has in him the silence of the sea,
the noise of the earth,
and the music of the air.

The meaning of our self
is not to be found in its separateness from God and others,
but in the ceaseless realization of union.

The newer people,
of this modern age,
are more eager to amass than
to realize.

 
 
 

A Psalm of Life (excerpts)
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day . . . .

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, — act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

 
 
 

To A Stranger
by Walt Whitman

Passing stranger! you do not know
How longingly I look upon you.
You must be he I was seeking,
Or she I was seeking
(It comes to me, as of a dream)

I have somewhere surely
Lived a life of joy with you
All is recall’d as we flit by each other –
Fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured

You grew up with me,
Were a boy with me or a girl with me
I ate with you, and slept with you — your body has become
not yours only, nor left my body mine only

You give me the pleasure of your eyes,
face, flesh as we pass,
You take of my beard, breast, hands,
in return

I am not to speak to you — I am to think of you
when I sit alone or wake at night, alone,
I am to wait — I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

 
 
 

I Want Both of Us*
by Hafez
(translated by Daniel Ladinsky)

I want both of us
To start talking about this great love

As if you, I, and the Sun were all married
And living in a tiny room,

Helping each other to cook
Do the wash,
Weave and sew,
Care for our beautiful Animals.

We all leave each morning
To labor on the earth’s field.
No one does not lift a great pack

I want both of us to start singing like two
Traveling minstrels
About this extraordinary existence
We share,

As if
You, I, and God were all married

And living in
A tiny
Room.
 

* From the Penguin publication The Gift: Poems by Hafiz. Copyright © 1999 Daniel Ladinsky and used with his permission.

 
 
 

 Like This*
by Rumi
(translation by Coleman Barks)

If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
and say,

Like this.

When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the night sky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,

Like this?

If anyone wants to know what “spirit” is,
or what “God’s fragrance” means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.

Like this.

When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.

Like this?

If anyone wonders how Jesus raised then dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.

Like this. Like this.

When someone asks what it means
to “die for love,” point

here.

If someone asks how tall I am, frown
and measure with your fingers the space
between the creases on your forehead.

This tall.

The soul sometimes leaves then body, then returns.
When someone doesn’t believe that,
walk back into my house.

Like this.

When lovers moan,
they’re telling our story.

Like this.

I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.

Like this.

When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.

Like this.

How did Joseph’s scent come to Jacob?

Huuuuu.

How did Jacob’s sight return?

Huuuu.

A little wind cleans the eyes.

Like this.

When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he’ll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us.

* Used with the kind permission of Coleman Barks. This poem and other Rumi poems can be found in The Essential Rumi, Translations by Coleman Barks (Harper Collins 2004).
 
 
 

Why Should I Wish To See God
by Walt Whitman

WHY should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God in each hour of the twenty-four,
and each moment then:

In the faces of men and women I see God,
and in my own face in the glass.

I find letters from God dropt in the street,
and every one is sign’d by God’s name.
And I leave them where they are,
for I know that whereso’er I go,
others will punctually come forever and ever.

 
 
 

The Seed Cracked Open*
by Hafez
(translated by Daniel Ladinsky)

It used to be
That when I would wake in the morning
I could with confidence say,
“What am ‘I’ going to
Do?”

That was before the seed
Cracked open.

Now Hafez is certain:

There are two of us housed
In this body,

Doing the shopping together in the market and
Tickling each other
While fixing the evening’s food.

Now when I awake
All the internal instruments play the same music:

“God, what love-mischief can ‘We’ do
For the world
Today?”
 

* From the Penguin publication The Gift: Poems by Hafiz. Copyright © 1999 Daniel Ladinsky and used with his permission.

 
 
 

Some Keep The Sabbath
by Emily Dickinson

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
I keep it, staying at Home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister -
And an Orchard, for a Dome –

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I, just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton — sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –
I’m going, all along.