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Our All Saints Jazz Vespers 2016/2017 launched on Sunday, October 16 with the amazing Dwight Trible in a powerful evening of music, meditation and prayer. The poem chosen for the evening was Hafiz’s “Cast All Your Votes For Dancing.” It offered a timely message in these last days of the election cycle — timely enough that we’re sharing it here — along with the meditation that followed (offered by Susan Russell.)

I know the voice of depression
Still calls to you.
I know those habits that can ruin your life
Still send their invitations.
But you are with the Friend now
And look so much stronger.
You can stay that way
And even bloom!
Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions’ beautiful laughter.
Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From the sacred hands and glance of your Beloved
And, my dear,
From the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.
Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,
But then drag you for days
Like a broken man
Behind a farting camel.
You are with the Friend now.
Learn what actions of yours delight him,
What actions of yours bring freedom
And Love.
Whenever you say God’s name, dear pilgrim,
My ears wish my head was missing
So they could finally kiss each other
And applaud all your nourishing wisdom!
O keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions’ beautiful laughter
And from the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.
Now, sweet one,
Be wise.
Cast all your votes for Dancing!
— Hafiz.

Be wise. Cast all your votes for Dancing.

We gather here tonight in this holy space
with this amazing music and this beloved community
because we know the wisdom of those words.

We know the wisdom of squeezing drops of the Sun
From our prayers and work and music
And from our companions’ beautiful laughter …
Because we know that only light has the power to drive out darkness
and in the end it is love that will triumph over hate.

And so we find ways and times and moments like this
to claim that promise
To squeeze out drops of love, hope and joy
to sustain us for the work we have been given to do.
The work we call turning the human race into the human family.

And make no mistake about it — these are challenging times
for those of us with that job description on our resume.
As we reach the final weeks of this longest election cycle
in the history of voting I know virtually no one
who does not hear the voice of depression calling.

We hear it in deep ache of the grief and sadness
saturating the very fabric of our beautiful and broken world
and taking a toll on our souls.
We hear it as the ugliness and polarization of this election cycle
points a spotlight on systemic racism, sexism and ignorance
that contaminate our nation.

It calls to us in the constantly growing list of hashtags
that has become a numbing litany of the heartbreaking reality
that black lives do NOT matter as much as white lives in our country.
In the scourge of gun violence that infects our nation –
taking the lives of children in our streets and police officers in the line of duty.
In the statistics that tell us that our black and brown sons
cannot leave the house without grappling with the reality of racial profiling
and that our daughters cannot leave the house
without encountering the very real threat of sexual assault.

And we hear it as we live with the very real fear
of the impact of this season of marshaling forces and resources
to preserve white privilege and patriarchy will have –
not only on all those on the margins
but on what’s left of the American Dream.

And so the voice of depression
Still calls to us.
We know those habits that can ruin our lives
Still send their invitations …
Cynicism
Anxiety
Hopelessness
Powerlessness
… it’s a long list.

And so we gather here instead
Saying no to that which would drag us down
Choosing instead that which will lift us up.

We center ourselves in this music, in this moment, in this community
Which is a veritable polling place to cast our votes not only for dancing
But for all the down ballot choices we make
Every time we choose
Hope over despair
Gratitude over greed
Justice over judgment
Compassion over condemnation
Love over fear

Every time we reject the counterfeit coins
That would drag us down for days
And choose instead to squeeze drops from the Sun
To choose wisdom
To cast all our votes for dancing.

For more about our Jazz Vespers program visit our website, or call 626.583.2725

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