To Those I Love
by Isla Paschal Richardson

If I should ever leave you,
Whom I love
To go along the silent way. . .
Grieve not.
Nor speak of me with tears.
But laugh and talk of me
As if I were beside you there.
I'd come. . .I'd come,
Could I but find a way!
But would not tears
And grief be barriers?

And when you hear a song
Or see a thing I loved,
Please do not let the thought of me
Be sad. . .for I am loving you
Just as I always have. . .
You were so good to me!
There are so many things
I wanted still to do. . .
So many things I wanted to say
to you. . . Remember that
I did not fear. . . It was
Just leaving you
That was so hard to face.
We cannot see beyond. . .
But this I know:
I loved you so. . .
'twas heaven here with you!

Jonathan Carroll, "Outside the Dog Museum"
You have to walk carefully in the beginning of love;
the running across fields into your lover's arms can only come later
when you're sure they won't laugh if you trip.

To approach the cross with too much faith, to stand in its shadow with certain confidence of Easter light, is finally to confront no cross at all, only the unrepentant echoes of our religious noise.
Karl A. Plank
Professor of religion at Davidson College, North Carolina.

"Religion is not a matter of getting individuals into heaven, but of transforming the life on earth into the harmony of heaven."
--Walter Rauschenbusch

Playing with Three Strings

We have seen Yitzhak Perlman
who walks the stage with braces on both legs,
On two crutches.
He takes his seat, unhinges the clasps of his legs,
tucking one leg back, extending the other,
laying down his crutches, placing the violin under his chin.
On one occasion one of his violin strings broke.
The audience grew silent but the violinist did not leave the stage.
He signalled the maestro, and the orchestra began its part.
The violinist played with power and intensity on only three strings.
With three strings, he modulated, changed and
recomposed the piece in his head
He retuned the strings to get different sounds,
turned them upward and downward.
The audience screamed with delight,
applauded their appreciation.
Asked later how he had accomplished this feat,
the violinist answered,
"It is my task to make music with what remains."

-- Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis

After a while you learn the subtle differences
between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't always mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead,
with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns
if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone to bring 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 goodbye you learn . . .

-- Veronica A. Shoffstall

When asked to share her beauty tips with fans,
the beloved actress and humanitarian offered this response,
which was read at her funeral several years later:

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored,
renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed;
never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand,
you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands:
one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

-- Audrey Hepburn

When we honestly ask ourselves
which person in our lives means the most to us,
we often find that it is those who,
instead of giving much advice, solutions or cures,
have chosen rather to share our pain
and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand.
The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion,
who can stay with us in an hour of grief or bereavement,
who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing,
and face us with the reality of our powerlessness,
that is a friend who cares.

-- Henri J. M. Nouwen
in Out of Solitude; Three Meditations on the Christian Life

The bitterest tears shed over graves
are for words left unsaid
and deeds left undone.

-- Harriet Beecher Stowe

People are often unreasonable and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It never was between you and them anyway.

-- Mother Teresa

Courage doesn't always roar.
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice
at the end of the day
saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

— Anonymous

When you grow weary of the boasts of men,
go to a tree, my friend —
one that has stood long patient years
within a silent wood.
Beneath its branches you will find again
a thing long lost.
Trees are content to be
as God created them.
No bough that turns its golden thoughts to autumn
ever yearns beyond a hillside's immortality.
Go to a tree in silence, you will find
in the soft eloquence of bud and leaf
serenity beyond the voice of grief
and faith beyond the reach of humankind.
Man spends his noisy days in search of gain
while trees find God in sunlight, soil and rain.

— Anonymous

Looking back on the memory
of the dance we shared,
beneath the stars above,
for a moment all the world was right.
How was I to know
that you'd ever say goodbye?
And now I'm glad I didn't know
the way it all would end,
the way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain,
but I'd have had to miss the dance.

— Garth Brooks, The Dance

A bird does not sing because it has an answer.
It sings because it has a song.

— Chinese proverb

Music I Heard with You

Music I heard with you was more than music,
And bread I broke with you was more than bread;
Now that I am without you, all is desolate;
All that was once so beautiful is dead.
Your hands once touched this table and this silver,
And I have seen your fingers hold this glass,
These things do not remember you, beloved —
And yet your touch upon them will not pass.
For it was in my heart you moved among them,
And blessed them with your hands and with your eyes;
And in my heart they will remember always —
They knew you once, O beautiful and wise.

— Conrad Aiken

O the love of my Lord is the essence,
Of all that I love here on Earth.
All the beauty I see
He has given to me,
and his giving is gentle as silence.

Every day, every hour, every moment,
has been blessed by the strength of his love.
At the turn of each tide
He is there at my side,
and His touch is as gentle as silence.

There have been times when I’ve turned from his presence,
I have walked other paths, other ways.
But I called on his name
In the dark of my shame,
and his mercy was as gentle as silence.

Estelle White

If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower
Nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I am gone
Speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves
That I have known
 
Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So .... sing as well

Joyce Grenfell
1910-1979

I think no matter where you stray,
That I shall go with you a way.
Though you may wander sweeter lands,
You will not forget my hands,
Nor yet the way I held my head
Nor the tremulous things I said.
You will still see me, small and white
And smiling, in the secret night,
And feel my arms about you when
The day comes fluttering back again.
I think, no matter where you be,
You'll hold me in your memory
And keep my image there without me,
By telling later loves about me.

Dorothy Parker

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land:
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Christina Rossetti
1830-1894

There will be storms, child
There will be storms
And with each tempest
You will seem to stand alone
Against cruel winds

But with time, the rage and fury
Shall subside
And when the sky clears
You will find yourself
Clinging to someone
You would have never known
But for storms.

"Storms"
  by Margie DeMerell

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of; wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air;
Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark nor even eagle flew;
And while, with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high, untrespassed sanctity of space
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Fl. Officer John Gillespie McGee
1922-1941

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

"He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven"
  by William Butler Yeats

I am standing on the sea shore,
A ship sails in the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her
Till at last she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says:
"She is gone."
 
Gone! Where?
Gone from my sight, that is all.
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her
And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me,
not in her.
 
And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
"She is gone",
There are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout:
"There she comes"
- and that is dying. An horizon and just the limit of our sight.
Lift us up, Oh Lord, that we may see further.

Bishop Brent
1862 - 1926

It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man
who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly;
who errs and comes short again and again;
who knows great enthusiasms,
the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while
DARING GREATLY
so that his place shall never be
with those timid souls
who know neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt
26th President Of The United States

 
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, superficial relationships, so that you will live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people so that you will work for justice, equality and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and change their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with the foolishness to think that you can make a difference in the world, so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.

Author Unknown

Footprints in the Sand

One night I had a dream --
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and
Across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand;
One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before us,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life,
There was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life
This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
You would walk with me all the way;
But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life,
There is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why in times when I
needed you the most, you should leave me.
The Lord replied, "My precious, precious
child. I love you, and I would never,
never leave you during your times of
trial and suffering.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."

The Lord bless you and keep you,
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you;
the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you,
and give you peace.