One of the things I usually read daily with the offices is the daily excerpt from An Almanac for the Soul — Anthology of Hope — by Marv and Nancy Hiles.  This is really a collection of brief spiritual readings (arranged by the seasons of the year) from the Iona Center ($25.95 plus shipping. To order: Iona Center, P.O. Box 1528, Healdsburg CA 95448;; or 707.431.7426).  It’s given me a lot of food for thought.  Two readings, recently, really caught my attention.

The first reading is from First You Have to Row a Little Boat by Richard Bode:

Where a friendship once existed there was now a void, and I was filled with sadness, knowing I couldn’t bring it back to life again.  My Sorrow, she was there with me, and I gave myself the sacred right to mourn, not by forgetting but by remembering; not by suppressing events or pushing them into oblivion but by calling them forth from the tangled roots of memory.  I remembered the people and places I knew:  the blue sloop pointing into the wind and the friends and mentors with whom I sailed, and I knew that I missed them all.  I think most of us are afraid that if we let ourselves feel our sorrow for the passing of the life that was, we will never regain our composure again.  But the fear is misplaced; what should truly frighten us is the possibility that we might lose the power to recall the life we lived, which gives us our connections to ourselves.  Our most terrifying diseases aren’t the ones that take our life; they’re the ones that cast us adrift on an empty sea by depriving us of our connections.

The second (which I’ve abbreviated) is from A Tagore Reader (edited by Amiya Chakravarty):

To be able to love material things, to clothe them with tender grace, and yet not be attached to them, this is a great service.  Providence expects that we should make this world our own, and not live in it as though it were a rented tenement.  We can only make it our own through some service, and that service is to lend it love and beauty from our soul.  … Civilization is waiting for a great consummation, for  an expression, of its soul in beauty.  This must be your contribution to the world.