Blessings and Ritual Responses to COVID-19

i don’t pray to survive
i pray
alive
the life put in me
calls out to the
Life Beyond Me-
we are the answers we have been desperately seeking

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curse the fire!
and curse the dark!
curse these unlinked arms!
and bottomed out hearts!
and when i am done cursing
permit my being to sink so low
that i surrender
in spite of my solitary hatreds
to
Blessing
to the promise of every last hopeless shred shredding within me to feel the unfelt dread
and by acceptance let this human life
at last
be led

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in the unmoving
(staying)
i am doing what i can
where i can
however i can
especially when i just can’t
and i can be here
just as i am
i don’t have to soften
i don’t have to sow
i can
not know
and there is still hope

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a psalm of beauty
in place of an
ersatz beauty routine-
peel away the plastic
wash out the faded dye
drip me in the dodged goodness
bursting from behind
remove the
baseboard of this
basest base coat
give away every disguise
and may my face betray my body’s truth
pull back the flinching lie
we
can
lift/break/delete
find the root of our feeling
our world transmitting
that we are
somehow
incomplete
surprise
we aren’t
here we are
just as we are not
selah.

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what are you doing for your heart today?

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sometimes

when
i have no
words
to pray

i just start
saying people’s
names

and
between each
pause i curl up
against

i swear
i hear

g-d’s delighted

“yes!”

exclaim

for when
it’s tough-

safely
and
messily
and
gently
and
humanly

(amen)

in this leaving
there is a longing

and in this longing
there is a raging

and in this raging
there is a grieving

and in this grieving
there is an enjoining

and in this enjoining
suddenly
unavoidably but perhaps ever-presently

loving

and in this loving
a living

i can’t pour you wine
and i can’t taste your bread

but i can kindle your flame
and from my heart spin a thread-

there is shelter outlasting this cold awesome dread

remotely
i will meet you in the warmth of words unsaid

(i miss you)


routine breaker
holy unmaker!

let your embrace
come in the embraceless embrace between rooms and screens grocery aisles and streets
and let me the emptied emptying know that through
these heart eyes
oh yes even the anxious averted eyes
you see me
and we are holding feeling
and not once departing the other
in unprecedented time
we are still finding Time
to Love

what are you doing?

you are pausing.

and you are still living.

there are suns and moons the shapes of horses in you.

your life is not withered grass.

you can still look out and come upon the stars.

at the end of your life when death is walking through your door

no one is going to yell ‘well if only you just used your treadmill and properly steamed your pores (amen)’

do not confuse life with
surface death

seek lightness
know love
and when you move
strut with depth

your life isn’t a death
Life isn’t Death

amen
a Breath

if you’re sober
if you’re struggling
if you’re hurting
if you’re fumbling

i know you’re out there
i’m glad you‘re out there
even when i’m here

G-d
this is hard
it’s easier knowing you’re/You’re t(here) too

Verb People
so near

Un-covering
Re-covering
Be-coming
Human
Be-ings
once
again

(amen amen amen amen amen Amen)

the prayer
is Life

the Word
is living

that dark you surmise
is light
with another set of eyes
windowless wilderness
look
alive
the heart tunnels to the forgotten
inside

hi i’m lonely
but
if you’re
lonely
that means
i and we are not alone
where there is no presence
there is Presence
and where there is Presence
care

(care)

when we are
alone
g-d is between
our rooms
holding together
the thread
and irreverence
becomes our
lifeline to
the divine laughter
is life living
and
we are not Dead!

today’s prayer
i nestle into
the wall of my home

the wall i share
with yours

in a building
in a town
in a country

not mine
but ours

‘how are you really?’

and for a mere second
there is no frantic terror
rebuked horror
or masking pain

we are separate
and unmasked

our love in loneliness time is Eternity

do not wait for resistant joy wade into resistant grief a tree is/is not a single leaf the route root weeps to swim the length of murky watery deep distantly the sun greets but first the falling seep seep

in the unmerry-go-round of illness
circle ‘round the sound of your voice
home is what you make inside
remember g-d whispered
‘for your sake’

in me
not against me
sentient me
never tentatively
Something Else
always me
coming back
going out
free

there are horizons
that hinge on the dust of stars
and not the dust of false deaths
there is life before and after death
are we bereft?
yes
yes
life is all you and we have left!

here’s to the addicts
and
the chronically ill

and anyone whose isolation
has no end date

“until…”

y(our) existence
y(our) bodies
and
y(our) very lives

are infinite
truthful
holy
and wise

and the whole world can (re)learn how to live because of you (us)

the deeper
in
illness
sets
the longer
the pause
creation
is
after all
not work
but rest

how awful is this place
how awe filled is this place
to wrestle wild with G-d awake

how to give your heart away-

1. take your heart back

Hurting is normal.
Hurting is okay.
There is nothing wrong with who you are as a person when you’re hurting.
You do not have less value because you hurt.
You are remarkable when you hurt.
You are as inviting as a breath of fresh air while hurting.
And to be hurt in a world trying to tell you not to be makes you very, very brave.
And you are lovable when you’re hurting.
There are people who want to love you, who do love you when you hurt.
And we will shelter you with our love in a world of polarizing hurt and pain.
(amen)

where do
You dwell
when the world’s a mess

wild
wild
wilder
wilderness

the thing about beauty is
we don’t have to know
and in and out and out and in
miracle
she strolls

we can each be kind without looking for what we might ‘get’ out of it.

the rambam and sublime were each in their own way onto something:

do something endemically generous wherever you are. every day. maybe even multiple times a day.

please.

a blessing
a wish
for the love
you give out
to come back in
for the love
you give out
to never
for one second
depart you

as i urge people
to seek help
may i first and foremost
be a person
who reaches
out for help
especially when
i feel most
helpless

(amen)

 

The Affinity Prayer

G-d, grant me the affinity
to accept myself as I am,
the courage to separate who I am
from what others expect from me,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Here are a series of poems, prayers and reflections I have written in response to COVID-19:

Two-line lifeline intentions:

1. Say you do one thing for yourself today. Even if that one thing is letting out a breath and that’s it. That’s something. And you’re amazing.

2. If you are getting help, any help, through this, I’m proud of you. You are doing the right thing and people are rooting for you.

3. Your own spiritual self-care is one of the greatest tools of resistance you have.

Image may contain: possible text that says 'You Matter Don't Give Up'

we are learning
we don’t have to rush
into the fire
and stay there
we are learning
we can love ourselves
with force of running water
without once burning
and
without ever disappearing
we can move and be moved
by something other than self-righteous self-inflicted pain-
we are learning we can be moved by life
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i had these two papers
wrapped around my pockets my whole life
every time i took them out
they got older
and so did i
my yellow heart i thought
no courage
just years
but anyway
a day came
today
and i felt the words paperless coming through
speaking then singing in
my mouth
‘the world for your sake’
actually means
for *my* sake
g-d loves me
all of me
anyway
i have always been near to you
and i will bring other people near to me too
g-d of mystery
g-d beyond the words
G-d Who Loves Us Anyway

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love is in groceries
and grimaced faces
when milk is spilled
and hearts hit the floor
and tissues that find their way to
waste baskets
the unwonderful
used band aids
and muddled schedules
muffled coughs
stuffed ears
the one hundred and twentieth
bless you
a little trite
exhausted
inexhaustible

uttered in a day that’s true.

the world is breaking
they sighed
oh no
the child replied

the world at last is opening

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something else
but first this…
depth
deep
deeper deep
deepest deep
bottom
rock
hard
death?
still deep
and here in last place you would expect
levity

elohai neshama
my g-d of soul
blessed are
you
for leaving traces
of our souls
as our bodies fall
and all that remains is the sea of our tears
thank you for reminding us
of the hidden breath
the raspy rapt blessing bound up inside us each day
unwavering
that we are alive
when the world
when we least expect to be
we are

amen

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i don’t second-guess
i don’t have to guess at all
anymore really
i come from life
everything is flowers

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grief isn’t just death
life isn’t just death
and life isn’t just life
(feel)
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check in
don’t shut out
ask
don’t assume
look out
not only in
amen.
Image may contain: possible text that says 'check in don't shut out ask don't assume look out not only in amen. devon spier'
people are in pain
that’s the prayer to say
i hear you
i am listening to you
your words
and you
amen
amen
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you do not
– have to be positive
– do pirouettes with your sadness
– pretend
it’s a pandemic, not a carnival
you can
– let yourself be
– if you want, you can let the people who love you know if you need something different than what they’re offering you
we can
– all afford to take better care of each other, even if it’s just accepting people as they are feeling

you first, dear Heart

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whatever it is,
gently
blessed is the raft maker
and blessed is the repairer of the breach
and blessed is the warm soul who treats your dark
with the embrace of a thousand summers’ suns
who when your winter eyes tire of false comforts
and artificial light
reminds you of your unfolding

as restless and earnest as the waves.

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i will not forget to open my window
and to fold into the brazen breeze the words
yes oh yes my g-d you You made me
in a world i can’t and won’t unsee
i can love me
i can teach love in my body
touch feel
now to see
Reality

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in times of chaos and uncertainty, look out for everyday wonders, for instance-
if you are reading this you are making it through today
and someone who is having trouble making it through the day is seeing this and thinking:
“if they can do it, i can make it through this one, too”

sometimes we supply the precise kind of wonder somebody else needs to find wonder in their own life to rejoice in the beauty of being alive

we can be unalone as we empty
and we can be undone when we
are just plain done

there are hands secret wings opening to you in every back heart flattening fibre of the isolation you’re in

where are all the other hearts?
my Lonely Heart wondered out loud
dear Heart
they are
(quiet silent aching breaking)
all around you
listen
find them
cradle each other
so you can find life

and the words again

Image may contain: possible text that says 'where are all the other hearts? my Lonely Heart wondered out loud dear Heart they are (quiet silent aching breaking) all around you listen find them cradle each other so you can find life and the words again devon spier'

i don’t know everything
i will never know everything
i cannot fathom what it is
to behold even a grain of Your Wisdom!
Master of the Universe
tremble my fences
so i am shaken out of the
disbelief that i am alone
create of me the unknowing
to sense my fragments and reject my
certainties embracing the
Sources of Living Life in front of me
The Source Not Me
The UnThirsting Source

You!

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on this Feed
on this Page
in this Heart
fear is okay Here
hurt is okay Here
hope is okay Here
relief is okay Here
you are okay Here too
even if you are not okay
we are and can be Here together
thank you for being Here as you are
in this moment

(amen).

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my Feeling held
my Fixing close
pointed ‘Here’
and here
we stayed
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a perpetually sick person’s lament for love in a loveless, faithless and seemingly fateful fatal time-

given the choice between fear panic and mass hysteria
i pray we listen to understand
sick people
suffering people
suffering
is not the enemy
and by this quieting i pray we drip into every pause the practice of giving a damn rioting against every indifference and strand of bodily purity yes racism yes even not during a pandemic that we collectively commit to radically pursuing lives more human
let us not once wash our hands with that

and let us renew our faith

small small smallest it begins you feel insignificant and then one day you feel your small stride the tiniest little thing you can muster up is enough then you do more feel more significant but something else is nagging at you and it’s not the More or the striding stride it’s the smallest voice from the beginning the unending during! and there’s this slowing that happens slapping you in the leg/heart/face. sometimes literally. and when you least want it to the smallest starts making noise again and repeating. you can’t avoid yourself this time. because. you have been and will be significant this whole time. and there is nothing you can’t do or do about it. your small is all you have. and that’s just. wow. that’s grand. you’re grand. and now you know (again).

Image may contain: possible text that says 'small small feel insignificant then day feel your small stride the little thing you can muster enough then do more feel more significant but something else it's not the More striding stride it's smallest voice from the beginning unending during! there's slowing happens slapping leg/heart/ sometimes you least want to smallest starts making noise again and repeating. you can't avoid yourself this because. you have been will significant this whole time. and nothing can't do about small is all you have. and that' just. wow. that's grand. you're grand. and now you know (again) devon spier'

each of us without knowing knows someone who feels they are worth next to nothing
and if we stop for a moment we might realize we are that someone too we are not alone
but we are less alone

when we make a world where everyone is embraced as somebody which is actually worth everything

Image may contain: possible text that says 'each of us without knowing knows someone who feels they are worth next to nothing and we stop for a moment we might realize we are that someone too we are not alone but we are less alone when we make a world where everyone is embraced as somebody which is actually worth everything devon spier'

if one of us is disposable
we are all disposable
and i will not live into a world where you or i are trash
who g-d created us to be
person and place
no thing

i’ll meet you there

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we have spent
more time
away
than in
so now
a season
to retrieve
who we’ve been
there is no grave sin
we don’t have to get up going
the pitted g-d the g-d in the pit
underpins
unpins first
generations
generations
we!
of slips

and grins

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