Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and we celebrate the reality of love – or, better, of joys of connection. Most of us yearn not just for love – which is rare and fairly private – but equally for connection. We need to know that we are living lives of synchronicity and right relationship with the world. We want to connect – to live in harmony – with both spirit and substance.
Surely it is suggestive that we share the same air – the same molecules of nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen that swirl through time and history from the earliest life forms through the great people of history to those we love and us. It is the same air that connects us with the people of Asia and Africa, with saints and sinners, with apes and zebras. We are all unified and blessed by the gift of air.
It is no wonder, then, that God breathed over the cosmos on the first day of creation and brought it to life. It is no wonder that breath/air/wind is the same in Hebrew (ruach), Greek (pneuma), and Latin (spiritus). It is no wonder that when we breathe this air, we are inspired. All life and all creation begins with breath.
…including grand dreams and silly songs.
Yesterday, I was privileged to give the invocation of the San Francisco Writers’ Conference. Until last year, it was The Very Reverend Alan Jones, the retired dean of Grace Cathedral, who had the honor. But, beginning last year, he was traveling or otherwise unavailable. So Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada, organizers of the conference, asked me. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I “discovered” a long-lost version of Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer composed especially for writers. (See http://felicitywright.com/blog/2009/02/16/a-prayer-for-writers-the-invocation-at-the-sf-writers-conference.) It was well received – which only added to the pressure when I was expected to ferret out another long-lost gem.
But, with prayer and supplication, Spirit came once again to my aid. So here is the invocation, for your amusement:
Good afternoon. We have come together in this, the seventh convening of the San Francisco Writers’ Conference, to learn, create, and connect. And whatever our religious beliefs, we are woven together in a sacred web of art and creativity as we pray for “Spirit,” holy or otherwise. So let’s pause and breathe deeply of the same air that inspired writers from Aeschylus to Zola. As we exhale, we share Spirit’s blessings with one another.
And then we sing:
O beautiful for spacious sighs
That soar o’er the mundane,
For purple patches’ majesties
Above the phrases plain.
O poetry and prose sublime! Muse shed her charms on thee
And crown our arts with happy hearts
From A through M to Z.
O beautiful for writers’ dreams
That see beyond the shame
Of impoverished oblivion
To works of great acclaim
O poetry and prose sublime! God shed His charms on thee
And crown Thy good with authorhood
From A through You to Z.
As we give thanks for the sun, rain, and earth that grew this food, the hands that planted and prepared this feast, and the friends who brought us together, we also honor the Holy Inspiration that lies at the core of the cosmos. And we say:
I pledge allegiance to the Word
Of the creative force of the cosmos
And to the connection for which we strive
One yearning with the Spirit
With inspiration and success for all.