Category Archives: Grieving

We Remember

We Remember

 

We remember twenty children, six adults

And far … far … too many gun violence victims before and since.

 

We remember faces, young and old

Brimming with courage and determination,

Radiating mischief and love,

Faces frozen in time on desks and walls.

 

We remember tastes that formed and sustained:

Birthday cakes and Thanksgiving, picnics and potlucks –

Family and friends breaking bread together.

 

We remember joy overflowing,

Laughter reverberating with raucous delight,

Now echoing dimly within.

 

We remember smells – precious, illusive,

That threaten to unravel composure,

Whisking mourners warp speed to a moment in time, as they inhale deeply,

Holding a memory as long as possible.

 

We remember grieving hearts in need of resuscitation

Mouth to mouth, chest-thumping assistance

To make it through each day.

Lost in a lingering limbo of despair

Seeking to find footing and rediscover direction.

 

With each sight, smell, taste, sound

May we remember victims’ dreams and daring

Their curiosity and caring

Striving to honor them with our lives.

May we remember their gifts, irretrievable,

As we pledge to establish a safer world.

 

©December 1, 2016 Cynthia Langston Kirk

Fourth Anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook

To use this or any liturgy written by Cynthia Langston Kirk please include the copyright in your bulletin and/or on your screen. If you want to use the writing in any other way than one time worship use, please contact Cynthia at: calkirk@aol.com

Grief-stricken God

Grief-stricken God,
We are silent out of respect for the 49 killed and the 53 wounded and because no word is sufficient for a time such as this. We are heart-broken for lives cut far too short and for families, friends and our nation that will never recover fully from their loss and their injuries.

You have deemed and named each of us beloved. We were created out of love, for love and yet we are often as drawn to judgment and labeling as a moth is drawn to flame. Open our eyes and hearts to the beauty of each person. Remind us that the way of love is challenging and demanding, but only love can transform the world for the good.

Holy One, help us to search deep within our hearts and actions to see how we are complicit in these murders. Who do we judge? Who do we hate? Of what person or group are we ignorant? O God, forgive us our narrow vision of love that is puny instead of bold and courageous and all-encompassing.

Help us to move from our delightful conversations with people we know and trust to dialogues in neighborhoods and homes and churches with people who are different from us. Help us have difficult discussions with people about matters that are dividing our nation because if we continue erecting walls with bricks or words, death in all manners of expression will continue.

Help us not to stay silent when the massacres of our Native brothers and sisters are forgotten. Help us not to stay silent when our children and young people fear to go to the grocery store or a movie or dancing. Help us not to stay silent when our African American brothers and sisters fear to go to a park or be pulled over or go to church. Help us not to stay silent when our Muslim brothers and sisters are targeted and hated because of their religion. Help us not to stay silent when our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are feared, despised, marginalized and attacked.

O God, empower us to be your people; to not only say we follow the Prince of Peace, but to live and act and vote as if we do.

God, in your mercy, hear our prayers, Amen.

 

©June 15, 2016 Cynthia Langston Kirk

To use this or any writing by Cynthia Langston Kirk, please include the copyright and Rev. Cynthia Langston Kirk’s full name in your bulletin and/or screen. If you want to use the writing in any other way than one-time worship or one-time retreat/small group, please contact Cynthia at calkirk@aol.com.

 

 

Longest Night Experiences

Longest Night Experiences

Does it seem to you that the whole world has gone mad with joy? You are in the midst of grief over the death of a loved one, have a loved one who is approaching death, perhaps you’ve lost a job or hope in your future. All the while you are bombarded with ads for gifts ideas, cheerful music and memories of traditions that are impossible to you now and your aching heart just wants to escape.

Please join us at St. Francis at 4:00 p.m. on the winter solstice (December 21st) for our Longest Night service. We would like to offer you a safe place, a time to be gentle with your heart. There will be reflective music, readings and opportunities to light candles, if you wish. Feel free to invite a family member, friend, co-worker or anyone you think might benefit from this time.

For Children:

We will offer a Longest Night experience for children from 3:45 – 5:30. Through candle making, stories and more we will explore loss, God’s creation at night and that the night can shine. Limit: 20 elementary children, 10 preschool children.

Child Care:

Child care will be provided for infant through 2 year olds.

There is no charge for child care or the children’s experience, but we need each child to be registered by December 15th.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Longest Night Service – 4:00 p.m., in The Center, Refreshments afterward

Children’s Longest Night Experience – 3:45 – 5:30

Preschool – Rm 41, Elementary – Rm. 30-31, Snacks provided

Child Care – 3:45 – 5:30 – Room 10

St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church

Northwest corner of River and Swan

 

In the Midst of It All – Joy

In the Midst of It All – Joy

 

Sometimes you move with saffron steps to the tune of the sunrise,

Dew-blessed beginnings, fresh starts

Like sharpened pencils in the Fall,

Uttering “I do” with your soul mate,

Unpacking in a new home.

Joy is within and around you

Like electricity

Energizing your gifts,

Arousing your gratitude.

 

You leap through lush fields,

Your verdant heart singing.

Exploring forests and fern,

Praying … with the rhythm … of the ocean,

Stunned repeatedly by stark deserts

Adorned with sunsets which captivate your soul;

Giving thanks for every piece of nature

That bathes you in joy.

 

Raging red of boiling emotions

Spews forth when you are

Dismissed, oppressed, cursed,

Or when such is done to loved ones.

Joy seems nowhere to be found.

Molten anger within your heart

Appears to have covered her for good.

Suddenly Joy’s ember emerges unscathed.

Even amidst the fury,

She is there.

 

Somber grey, subdued, dismal,

Suppressing all energy to be engaged,

Seeking to rob you of wisdom

Even as you claw toward the Light.

Whispering “you don’t matter”,

“All is hopeless”,

“You are forever lost”.

Joy sits with you,

Whispering Hope.

 

Grief knocks down the door

Filling every pore with indigo darkness.

Spilling over with endless tears

Until your eyes dry-heave agony.

If you had the energy to pull the covers over your head,

You would.

But loss brings paralysis

Depleting you of inspiration and drive.

Joy is there

In precious memories,

A friend’s silent presence,

Deep within you

Bidding you forward.

 

In the midst of life’s beauty and gore

Move with joy, move to joy,

Not just the shallow waters of happiness –

Things accumulated, positions gained,

But the core deep,

Hope-propelled, grace-filled

Foundation of Living Love.

Befriend joy,

Celebrating the fact that she dwells within each of us,

Inviting us to dance.

 

©October 8, 2014  Cynthia Langston Kirk

To use this or any liturgy written by Cynthia Langston Kirk please include the copyright in your bulletin and/or on your screen. If you want to use the writing in any other way than one time worship use, please contact Cynthia at: calkirk@aol.com 

 

Giving Voice: Through Prayers, Poetry, Postcards and More

Giving Voice: Through Prayers, Poetry, Postcards and More

A Retreat for the Tucson Chaplains’ Association

Monday, October 22, 2012

St. Mark’s United Methodist Church

Are you sometimes too weary to speak what is on your heart? How do your patients/clients and families struggle to speak of change, of illness, of emotions, of dying, of relationships? How do you and your colleagues find ways to express your own frustration and grief?

“Giving voice” means to express what we think or feel. It is also to be a voice for those who cannot. Every day as chaplains you give voce with more than your vocal chords. Yours is a holistic approach that assists care receivers, colleagues, and yourselves in realizing truths and speaking honestly, lovingly.

We will experience a day of refreshment as we explore tangible way of giving voice individually and in community. It will be a time of learning and sharing, but also a time apart from demanding responsibilities, a time of fun and renewal.

 

Reflecting Transitions Through Meditation, Stories, Poetry and Art

Reflecting Transitions Through Meditation, Stories, Poetry and Art

Retreat for TMC Peppi’s House Staff

Friday, October 12, 2012

Hakone Gardens, Saratoga, CA Photo ©Cynthia Langston Kirk

St. Francis United Methodist Church

Transitions permeate the work you do and fill the lives you live. To walk with patients and their loved ones during life-changing transitions is to be present at their growing edge. It is to offer your gifts and care at a time when those with whom you work are reeling from circumstances and desperately need your knowledgeable and caring presence.

Service of Cleansing and Healing

Font with recycled glass bowl that held the water
Font with recycled glass bowl that held the water

At noon on Thursday January 20, 2011, a Service of Cleansing and Healing took place in front of Safeway at Ina and Oracle in Tucson, Arizona. This is the site of the January 8th shooting that took the lives of Christina Taylor Green, Federal Judge John Roll, Gabe Zimmerman, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck and Dorwin Stoddard and wounded 12 more, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Pam Simon and Ron Barber.

A Service of Cleansing and Healing

Reverencing the Space and Blessing the Community

 La Toscana Center

Noon, January 20, 201

CENTERING MUSIC                          Native Flute                                   Larry Redhouse

 WORDS OF GATHERING

 As we select fruit and vegetables for dinner, meet a friend for lunch, purchase flowers for our aunt’s birthday, buy a house, or pick up a prescription for our child, we live out our spiritual journey. It is in the everydayness of our lives – in striving to be an informed citizen or a mentoring friend, in living out our passion to help others and in seeking to learn – that we know more of the Holy One. And more of that Light is witnessed through us.

 Sacred cannot be divided into Sunday or Friday/Saturday and the rest of the week. It cannot be divided strictly by space – sanctuary or shopping center. God is, was and will be in this place. God was and is with us as we grieve. And God is with us today to help us reclaim this space for the good of all.

 We gather today to ask the gracious winds of the Spirit to blow in this place anew. We gather to remember servant hearts and acts of courage and tenderness. May each of us who have been shaken to the core carry with us the deep reminder of how precious and fragile life is. In the midst of these dark days, may we reaffirm our faith in a God of love who knows our grief and comforts our shattered hearts.

 Let us join our hearts, minds and voices to praise God for the beauty that surrounds and sustains us.

 SONG                                                                                  For the Beauty of the Earth              

 1. For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies

    For the love which from our birth over and around us lies

     God of All, to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.

 2. For the beauty of each hour, of the day and of the night

    Hill and vale, and tree and flower, sun and moon, and stars of light

    God of All, to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.

 3. For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child

    Friends on earth and friends above, for all gentle thoughts and mild

    God of All, to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise

 7. For the strength to live our call, in the face of threat and death

    For the courage to risk all, putting others before self

    God of All, to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise

                                                                      Verse 7             ©2011 Rev. Cynthia Langston Kirk

 PRAYER                           

 PSALM                               Psalm 107: 1-9           

 WORD ABOUT PRAYER FLAGS

 PRAYER      

 Merciful God, we lay our brothers and sisters who died and those who are wounded before you. We lay those who are isolated by grief and overwhelmed by thoughtless inquiries before you.

 Today we lay La Toscana Center, especially Safeway – the land, the buildings, the people – before you. Pour out your healing on people and place.

 Grace-filled One, we are hungry for each person to think and live reverently. We are thirsty for compassion. Fill us with reverence. Fill us with compassion.

 Help us understand the plight of mental illness in a deeper way and commit our time and resources toward systemic help for those who suffer and their families.

 Holy Healer, in moments when we despair, remind us of your unwavering faithfulness. Remind us that you are our rock and refuge.

 Receive our rawness and our frantic searching to make sense of the senseless. Take our outrage, our pain, our wordless grief and heal us individually and as a community.

 Loving Breath of the Spirit, help us remember the passion for people and the generosity exuded in the lives of the people who were injured or killed on January 8th. May their lives continue to inspire our words and actions.

 Consecrate our tears, our tokens and our expressions of service. Guide us to be beacons of hope from the corner of Ina and Oracle to the four corners of the world. Amen.

 SONG                        “Live in Charity”  (Ubi Caritas)

 Live in charity and steadfast love,

Live in charity; God will dwell with you.

A TIME OF REFLECTION

                              Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas  Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño 

A TIME OF SILENCE

BLESSING OVER THE WATER

SPRINKLING THE SPACE

LITURGY OF RECLAMATION AND BLESSING

May the healing waters cleanse and reclaim;

May they renew and bring hope

From the North and the South, from the East and the West,

From all places in this center to every corner of our city

Pour out your mercy

For every store owner and employee

Pour out your mercy

For each neighbor and every visitor

Pour out your mercy

For those who bring food and merchandise to this center

Pour out your mercy

For those who cleaned this space

Pour out your mercy

For those who are consumed by grief or fear

Pour out your mercy

For those around the world who continue to pray for us

Pour out your mercy

For those who seek to live reverently and compassionately, knowing we are all connected

Pour out your mercy

SONG                                                                               Peace is Flowing Like a River

Peace is flowing like a river, flowing out through you and me

Flowing out into the desert, setting all the captives free.

Hope is flowing like a river, flowing out through you and me

Flowing out into the desert, setting all the captives free.

Love is flowing like a river, flowing out through you and me

Flowing out into the desert, setting all the captives free.

BENEDICTION

May the gracious winds of the Spirit blow in this place anew. May peace, hope and love flow from person to person to person. And may the world continue to be transformed by acts of kindness and courage.

SONG                                                                                                Peace is Flowing Like a River

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia,

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

PASSING THE PEACE

 

Liturgy and verse 7 of “For the Beauty of the Earth” ©2011 Rev. Cynthia Langston Kirk

 

 

 

Wellspring of Goodness

                       Wellspring of Goodness

 Drown in the depths of living nightmare                       

Or cling to divine buoy, bobbing the rhythm of reclamation.

Wrung out, dry as desert dirt

Or renewed by the River of Life.

Tricked by mirages that call us to drink

Then vanish upon our arrival

Or quenched by cups of cold water

Our neighbors offer, at times in sacrificial ways.

Wellspring of Goodness, wash over us,

Cleanse the blood-stained horror,

Bathe us in tender mercy

And clothe us in outrageous hope

Beautifully expressed through lives of service.

 

©January 18, 2011 Cynthia Langston Kirk

In the Silence

In the Silence

IMG_1390

Turtledove choked just before dawn

So overcome with darkness

That no song could be uttered

No notes of hope to welcome the day

Jackrabbit hid in cactus condominium

Fearful of predators

Of things seen and unseen

Felt  easier to stay home

Lizard so parched, so dry

No energy for bugs

No appetite for water

Perhaps it will crack at its core

Or blow away in the next strong wind

Listen. Strain your ears in the silence.

Do you hear ordinary folks humming a new song?

Do you see the star shining a light on your fearsome path?

Do you know that the Prince of Peace offers you living water?

Listen. Strain your ears in the silence.

For even in dilapidated stables

Even in hearts that know threat, failure and grief

Even in the most unlikely circumstances

God’s Love longs to be born anew.

© December 2009   Cynthia Langston Kirk

To use this or any liturgy/poetry written by Cynthia Langston Kirk please include the copyright in your bulletin and/or on your screen. If you want to use the writing in any other way than one time worship use, please contact Cynthia at: cynthia@piecingstories.com.

Including Cynthia’s (or any liturgist’s) name is giving appropriate credit just as a composer is named in a bulletin or any quoted author in a research paper. It also allows worshippers to read more of someone’s writing just as they might if an author and quote are mentioned during a sermon.