A benediction is very different from an introduction or a speech or a monologue. It is a final prayer that inspires and brings an audience together at the end of a ceremony, as a final expression of solidarity and peace. With my background in poetry and my love of prayers of invocation, writing a benediction is an ideal way for me to use my gifts to express what I find most meaningful when people come together in celebration.

I’ve been honored to having been invited to create and facilitate public ceremonies of all kinds and for people in a wide variety of circumstances. These events have been among my most rewarding and enriching experiences. A particularly memorable one was for the city of San Francisco, my home.

I look forward to future invitations to invoke prayers, benedictions, and the like, and to share powerful visual imagery with others across the state and across our country. The whole process is a great adventure for all involved. It opens our souls deeper to the experience of oneness, and I believe ceremony of all kinds cultivates a sense of community in every sense of the word.


Read  the Benediction for the Inauguration of Mayor Gavin Newsom, January 8, 2004

As we come full circle
in this celebration of the inauguration
of our new mayor,
let’s join together in this special prayer:

Divine Spirit,
We the people of San Francisco
entrust the soul of our beloved City
to you, Mr. Mayor,
to caretake and protect.

We pray that your journey be infused with light.

That your health and spirit soar
with continuous strength and stamina.

That you arrive in each moment
with gratitude and freshness.

We call on the Creator to assist you
in meeting the challenges of this great City
with courage, innovation and compassion—

that you inspire solidarity and inter-connectedness
from City Hall into the Community,
from the Mission to the Marina,
from the Golden Gate to Chinatown,
from the Tenderloin to our great mother, the Pacific.

We ask that you remain open-hearted
to the voices of those who are suffering
and alone.

May your love of adventure,
devotion to service,
and sense of humor sustain you.

Mr. Mayor,
take great care
as you meet your appointment
with destiny.

And in the small hours
may you find sanctuary
in the universe that silently waits within you.

when you walk the sacred turf
of our magnificent city,
stay present and breathe deep.
Imprint peace with every step.

Thank you.


In 2001, the San Francisco Arts Commissioner, Stanlee Gatti, invited me to write and perform the benediction for the inauguration of Mayor Gavin Newsom. I admit, I was a little terrified—I knew there would be thousands of folks in attendance. But more than that, I was honored to have been asked. I was also thrilled at the prospect of writing something that might invoke San Francisco, and of standing behind Mayor Newsom with pride and conviction.

In this case, as I set about the task of writing the benediction, I felt called to feel into the beauty, power, and diversity of San Francisco—a city to be proud of. As in any city, when surrounded by politics, paperwork, and a multitude of philosophies, it’s easy to wonder whether our voices will be heard. Sometimes we lose track of how grateful we are to live in such an amazing place in this incredible era. I knew I had to find the right words to invoke that gratitude for the time and place, and for the sacred moment of transition. I wanted Mayor Newsom, the esteemed guests, and the audience to feel the magnitude of the day, and to walk away feeling a common bond, a sense of oneness. As always, once my mind quieted down, the words flowed through me from a higher source. Inspiration came alive!

The day of the inauguration arrived, and it was great fun sitting among the esteemed guest speakers. Ed Asner sat next to me…he was so kind, and very open. Maria Shriver sat behind me; Charlotte Shultz, San Francisco’s Chief of Protocol, was near her. The actress Joan Chen was the emcee, jazz singer Paula West sang, and other luminaries spoke of the work that needed to be done. I felt so honored to be there, and to be able to contribute something in a bit of a different voice.

Finally, the moment arrived and I stepped out on the stage. The sun was warm and there was a lovely fresh breeze moving through the sea of San Francisco’s curious well-wishers. My heart was beating so fast. “Quiet, you,” I told myself. And then I read:

I will forever hold the memory of that day deep in my heart.


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