My all time favorite prayer/poem. This is a wonderful book.
That Which Holds All
Because she wanted everyone to feel included
in her prayer,
she said right at the beginning
several names for the Holy:
Spirit, she said, Holy One, Mystery, God
but then thinking these weren’t enough ways of addressing
that which cannot be fully addressed, she added
particularities, saying, Spirit of Life, Spirit of Love,
Ancient Holy One, Mystery We Will Not Ever Fully Know,
Gracious God and also Spirit of This Earth,
God of Sarah, Gaia, Thou
and then, tongue loosened, she fell to naming
superlatives as well: Most Creative One,
Greatest Source, Closest Hope—
even though superlatives for the Sacred seemed to her
probably redundant, but then she couldn’t stop:
One Who Made the Stars, she said, although she knew
technically a number of those present didn’t believe
the stars had been made by anyone or thing
but just luckily happened.
One Who Is an Entire Ocean of Compassion,
she said, and no one laughed.
That Which Has Been Present Since Before the Beginning,
she said, and the room was silent.
Then, although she hadn’t imagined it this way,
others began to offer names:
Peace, said one.
One My Mother Knew, said another.
Ancestor, said a third.
Breath, said one near the back.
That Which Holds All.
A child said, Water.
Someone said, Kuan Yin.
And then, there wasn’t any need to say the things
she’d thought would be important to say,
and everyone sat hushed, until someone said
—Nancy Shaffer, from Instructions in Joy, available at www.uuabookstore.org, (c) Nancy Shaffer