A Thanksgiving Litany for Living through Fractious Times by Alla Renée Bozarth

Alla Renée Bozarth, Philadelphia 11, Philadelphia ordinations
All things being relative, remember
that collective and individual histories
are cyclical but open-ended, and discern
the kind of moment you are in and part of.

Remember how to make it better
by holding on to all that is dear in life,
and becoming more prayerful and thoughtful.

When deprivation comes, return to what is essential—
first, beauty, so look for and create beautiful behavior 
and encourage it.

Stretch into the sustenance of sensual beauty— 
when none comes easily, look for what is subtle. 
Let your eyes linger at the turning points where
God pours out color on clouds at dusk and dawn.
Look for the glistening on snow.
How no moonlit night is like another.

Stop everything and be fully there, 
looking out toward the horizon 
or up to see how pink halos layer 
above the mountain, or certain birds travel,
all of them, even in the same families, 
composed of individual and variable traits, and 
in the variations, beauty, fascination, wonderment.

When noise obscures music, listen for the lyrical delicacy
or percussive timpani of rain, excellent for both good sleep
or rousing into consciousness. Relish the forest scent,
the popping and crackling of contained fire for physical warmth 
and spiritual solace.

See and hear how wind changes everything— 
hence the Holy Spirit as both fire and wind, and also a bird 
that masters flight through the air, as Christ the Fish navigates
the Divine Dance of Grace in turbulent waters.

Notice the chorus of birdsongs, of laughter, 
of gentle conversation, how the water cascades 
into the pot or cup as the ritual of pause that is tea 
or coffee comforts you twice, with music and fragrance 
and the sacrament of free-floating reflection.

To create beauty from air, use your voice to sing or hum 
or speak poetry aloud, your hands to tap or clap to a remembered 
dance tune, your entire internal memory to recall loveliness that is 
always yours from before, you imagination to give form to what is
beautiful, loving and wise within you.

Remember, imagine, enact, sing—
and listen for the symphonies
of water falling over rock, 
all of the exquisite performances 
of Nature in the subtle movement of air, 
of water, of positive voices from nowhere
or everywhere.

Celebrate the beautiful 
sacrament of sharing and do not limit 
yourself to human company or despair, 
but welcome every interesting or lovely
living creature that presents itself 
to your companionship.

When food is scarce, savor whatever flavors 
your mind and senses find in the wild of things, 
and be thankful, truly thankful for every actual meal,
no matter how small or large it is.

Touch the grass and the warm bodies of fur friends, 
lest your tactile nerves retreat and become insensitive, 
lost in themselves.

Meanwhile, be mindful of the world 
through which you still move and are 
a specific and therefore important participant.

Keep your head down in the weeds
in the presence of danger. Be aware
that not everyone thinks or believes
as you do. Be openly kind, often.

Speak up when called to the moment
of witness, defend the defenseless and 
draw from the strength of your principles, 
but remember that principles alone 
will not shield you from those 
who do not understand them.

In horrifying times,
remember how God moves
through our histories, 
our horrors, our terrible errors,
and remember that Job was
a prophet for losing everything
and refusing hollow comfort,
but simply keeping to his truth
before God and waiting, making
a prayer mound of his misery.

Redemption may be long in coming.
It may not be apparent in one’s own
lifetime, but down the decades everything
will change, and what is dark will become
light and what is heavy will also become light.

Be part of the process, whether at the beginning 
or in the murky morass, or near or in the eventual
opening onto new vistas.

Do not wait for them to open before you give thanks.
Make thanks your daily practice, and not automatic, 
but well-thought and specific.

Give thanks that people like Job, who railed and raged 
against his losses, can sometimes live long enough 
to enter a new paradise— all that was lost given back 
in new forms, some more wonderful than before.

You may feel wobbly in the earthquake times
of history. You may fall. But lift up those beside you
and be lifted up as you do so.

Keep your mind and senses 
sharp for accuracy, like litmus.

Live one minute at a time
when necessary.

Perspective is everything.
Remain your best self.
That, above all, is essential.

Be fair-minded and walk
humbly with God and each other.
Even alone, your presence
makes a difference. Let it be
a helpful and positive one.

Become someone for whom
others give thanks.

Our world, even when frightening,
is still full of miracles.

Blessed Be the Holy One. Amen!

Alla Renée Bozarth

In the work in progress,
Purgatory Papers ©2018

*Photos of poodles from my backyard at the foot of Mt. Hood

Alla Renée Bozarth is A Russian, Celtic, Osage American mongrel poet, Episcopal priest, Northwestern University Ph.D. in performing arts and Gestalt psychotherapist soul caregiver who lives at the foot of Mt. Hood in Western Oregon. She has published 20 prose and poetry books on feminism, spirituality, grief, hermeneutics of performance and most recently the Vietnam War— and 4 audio albums, with 14 more large poetry collections and 2 CDs ready for publication. Alla has written award winning poetry for over 40 years. Her poems are widely used all over the world, often in collaboration with visual artists, singers and dancers. For permission to reprint a poem, please send Alla your request at allabearheart@yahoo.com

Categories: animals, Ecofeminism, General, Gift of Life, Gratitude, holiday, Nature, place, Relationality, Women's Spirituality, Women's Voices

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9 replies

  1. Balance comes to mind – that and the powers of nature to move us into a more authentic way of being.


  2. Lots of good advice in this long poem. Many thanks! I hope we’ll hear from you again. Bright blessings.


  3. What a beautiful, timely Rx! So good to see you here, Alla!


  4. This poem kept surprising me with its wisdom. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Correction: The beautiful black and white poodles live with the Rev. LouAnn Pickering and her husband Jim Pickering and their family. I wrote a Black and White poem for them when I saw these pictures of them.

    Black and White Ball

    Give your dogs a black and white ball and tell them,
    just to say it out loud, what it means.

    Black is the color of mysterious things,
    of the powerful regeneration and renewal
    of Night in which Stars are born,
    the universe delivering Beauty.

    On Earth’s palette of color, black is all
    the colors there are, blended variously
    to the depth of Absolute Beauty.

    White is all the colors of the light spectrum
    unbroken, undefined, at the ready for jumping into rainbows.

    White is for playing in snow,
    black is for the big band music of the spheres,
    where certain sounds can be heard only by dogs.
    In the generous lap of black, all the day-hidden musicians
    become visible to humans and dogs alike in the showing of night.

    Black and white are the complete heartbeat, the full breath
    that make exploration, friendship and joy possible.

    Black and white do not oppose.
    They hold Everything within and between them.

    God plays with all Her children, rolling Her black and white ball
    of creation toward new surprises all the time.

    If all the colors went out of something, God could still create
    a beautiful, clear, precise black and white sketch of its shape
    and essence, enough to intrigue us and evoke meaning
    from shadows and light.

    And God could reach down into black and pull up caramel
    and amber, dark chocolate and milk chocolate and mocha,
    then find the sky dripping with magenta if She wanted, and then
    sapphire blue and royal purple, and nuggets of star silver and gold.

    And God could move Her fingers into the whiteness and find
    vanilla ice cream and tapioca, paper to write books and poems on,
    then go into the clouds and fin greens and pinks and mauve,
    and crimson and true red, and bright yellow and gold.

    And in both black and white
    there would be glitter and sparkles and sequins
    to color carbonate the most festive days and nights
    with iridescent splendor.

    A black and white ball is a sphere for movement and play,
    and also a dance, formal and full of Grace, befitting
    the dignity of all beings—beings and Being.
    Black and white. Together, they contain all colors.
    They are the whole world.

    Alla Renée Bozarth

    The Frequency of Light © 2015

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thanks to the editor for adding pictures to go with “A Thanksgiving Litany.” The beautiful forest scene and the startled cat are not mine, and the black and white dogs are from a 2015 poem which FAR graciously posted, inspired by my friend LouAnn Pickering’s pups as described in the previous comment. Here is the poem on its FAR page: https://feminismandreligion.com/2015/07/18/black-and-white-ball-a-poem-to-honor-poodle-friends-by-alla-bozarth/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for this beautiful, wrenching, honest, flowing, enticing, hopeful piece. It lifted my spirits.

    Liked by 1 person

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