Archive for October 22nd, 2012

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.

Then: Womb.


Great Kindness.

Great Eagle.

Eternal Stillness.

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
Instructions in Joy: Meditations

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