Charles Harper Poems Graphic
From the Author’s Preface

Perhaps if my table prayers transitioned from prose to poetry, this would result in more lively, provocative ways of saying “thank you” to the Mystery that surrounds our days.

More than six thousand languages are spoken on Earth.  All of them have ways of expressing gratitude.  Each meditation/prayer in section one of this book is given a title using a term for “gratitude” or “thank you” in a different tongue.  It seems that our species has an urgent and universal need to say “thank you” to that Mystery from whom we come, in whom we live and to whom we go.
Holy One

with the breath of your wind
we are quickened

with the abundance of earth
we are nourished

with the Prophets
we dream a just world at peace

How can we not be grateful?
beyond the farthest
reaches of our minds,
yet nearer than the air we breathe –
when we are not astounded
by the abundance of your gifts,
wake us up, we pray,
to a renewed sense of awe
and lives given to praise
and thanksgiving.
Something there is
in the human spirit –
a hunch, a wish,
a gleam of intuition
that whispers

there is more here
than meets the eye,
more than the mind
can comprehend
or words name,

a darkness and light,
a presence and absence
hidden – but shown
to some inner knowing
that knows better than we know,

that knows we are meant
to cry out our lament and praise,
our anger and thanksgiving
to the Nameless One
with many names.

So we do.
Our lives are full of ambiguity

We rejoice around this table
of food and companionship
which sustains us

We are heavy with sadness
for the homeless and hungry
in our city
and in distant places

Nourish and enliven us
to be your people
and to do your will

We give you thanks
for both the joy and pain
by which we know
we are alive
to you
and to our world

תודה הכרת
on this spinning blue planet,
no other like it in the Universe
as far as we can see,
how easy to take for granted
all the common things
with which we are surrounded -

air to breathe,
sun for warmth,
gravity to ground us,
fertile soil,
water, food, love
and hope to nurture
human life.

common on Earth,
extraordinary in our Universe.
How can we not come
to this meal
in a spirit of awe,
amazement and gratitude?
Who are we
to be so bold
wise, presumptuous

as to walk
through the vast mystery
of this day

and to receive
the countless blessings
of life

even this food and drink
now set before us
on our table -

Who are we
if our hearts do not blend

to gratitude
Poetry by Charles H. Harper
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