We All Breathe

A new collection of poetry and prayer. Vosper once again gives expression to the beauty and complexity of life in ways that can touch and move us on many levels. Identifying our interconnectedness as a core principle of our common, human journey, Vosper plays with imagery and symbol, weaving us into a whole that lifts and ennobles us all.  We All Breathe is the third in a series of poetry and prayer books authored by Vosper.

From Gretta: It has been another three years and another accumulation of resources prepared for use at West Hill United, a spiritually non-exclusive progressive community growing out of the Christian tradition. It sounds like a mouthful but when it is put on paper or experienced within the context of a gathering of inspired and inspiring people, it is, simply put, beauty.

From the preface, “We are an amazing family, we humans. Diverse in every aspect, we are yet strikingly similar. Our physical characteristics display variations on the typical – two eyes, arms, legs; ten toes and fingers; and a head crowned with hair of natural shades ranging from white through blonde, red, and brown to black. We thrive on the same nutrients delivered through an astonishing array of foods prepared in both ancient and ever more creative ways. We use the same parts of our brains, more or less, to explore radically different parts of our world and to engage in dramatically opposed and sometimes violently defended ideas. We all know joy, sorrow, exhilaration, and despair and we breathe our way – in and out – through them. Each one of us was born; each one of us will die. In between those two events, we all breathe.”

We All Breathe joins Holy Breath (2004) and Another Breath (2009) as the third in my Breath series.

Example Prayers:

Easter Week
By Gretta Vosper

How beautiful the energy of those ignited by a dream!
How filled with song and dance and passion!
They set their sights on points of possibility
and work, play, inch, leap, edge, sing themselves,
(and often those about them)
toward their far-off summits,
with the joy of what will be.
May we catch the awe
that sweeps up their hearts
and casts them toward a more beautiful tomorrow!
And may we hear,
even in our darkest moments,
the hope they beat into our hearts with their passage.
May it draw us into harmony,
filling us with a passion all our own.
This we breathe into being,
as those who dwell in possibility.



This light which bathes the world,

pours from a source so close, so near

and yet we cannot touch it

or fence it in that it not be lost.


This light which shatters darkness

is pierced together, flame by flame,

shining from a thousand sources

but is diminished by the loss of one.


This light which fills the furthest corner

brings with it warmth

to fill billions of hearts

and bind them with its common truth.


This light which pulls us toward tomorrow

is carried deep within each of our hearts

and lit by you and me and him and her

and all who live upon this earth.


This light which is yours and mine to carry

burns only in the hope-filled heart,

the source of all our inspiration

and all the beauty that will ever come to be.

Let it shine.

Review & Commentary

  • Nancy Rockwell

    I would like to see some of the materials before deciding to purchase. Your description of them is slightly interesting, but only sampling will make me want to buy. Please put up some pages, or services, for us to view.
    Thank you.

    • Deshna Ubeda

      I have added some samples and you can also search for Gretta Vosper in our Global Directory, her public profile will open up and if you click on “history” it will show all of the resources that she has written- many of which are poems and prayers that are included in her prayer books.

  • Susan Young

    Can you share more about the copyright permission for these poems? Did the author give permission to use these poems in public services and settings or just for individual private use? Thanks.

  • gretta vosper

    All material contained in the book is copyrighted under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Licence meaning, you are free to copy and share the pieces with others non-commercially as long as you do not alter them in any way and credit them as “from We All Breathe, © 2012 Gretta Vosper”

    For further permissions, please contact the copyright holder.

    That’s pretty much straight from the inside cover. If you’ve further questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

  • gretta vosper

    Thanks so much to Jim Burklo who shared this review of We All Breathe!

    Breathing With Gretta
    a review by Jim Burklo of
    – a book of poems by Gretta Vosper

    As I review my involvement in the progressive Christian movement over the last decade and a half, I face a seeming contradiction. On the one hand, I’m amazed that a small number of devoted people, with very limited resources, succeeded in establishing a public identity for theologically and socially progressive Christianity. At least some people in the wider world have an awareness that an alternative form of the faith exists. On the other hand, we’re very far from transforming the public’s image of Christianity from a narrow, backward-looking religion into a justice-and peace-centered faith that is compatible with science and common sense.

    We’ve done a pretty good job of blowing holes in the battleship of triumphal, oppressive orthodoxy. That ship is sinking. But have we built a better boat to sail the sea of the soul?

    For that task, poets are needed to do the heavy lifting. If we can’t sing a progressive faith, how can it float our spiritual boats? We need hymns, prayers, images, and poetry as the pitch to hold our minds, bodies, and souls together. We need new and artful words for worship that urge us on toward positive personal, social, and environmental change.

    Gretta Vosper is a boatwright helping progressive Christianity set sail. The pastor of West Hill United Church in Toronto, Canada, she is the author of a recent collection of poems, WE ALL BREATHE (available at the “store” at progressivechristianity.org). Each is a mirror in which personal and collective spiritual experience is reflected. Each is written in the first person plural, and most end with an “amen”. They have the cadence, content, and feel of “pastoral prayers” in worship – yet they make no mention of God, Jesus, or theological terms.

    The poems are written in the voice of a community of people talking to themselves. The great Spanish poet, Antonio Machado, wrote that “one who talks to himself hopes to talk to God sometime”. Talking to ourselves and talking to God may be one and the same thing, if there is honesty in the utterance. Whether or not one believes in God, there’s something divine in the act of prayer itself.

    In the past month, I’ve been part of a lively email conversation among progressive Christian leaders around the world who engaged in the “Evolving Statements of Faith” project of ProgressiveChristianity.org . Many in our discussion who are from Australia, New Zealand, and Canada – Gretta included – have given up on God because they think the word and the concept has too much negative baggage. The Americans in the group tend to continue to embrace God with a theology that abandons supernaturalism. (I can’t explain this difference between American and British Commonwealth religious radicals – if anyone can, please let me know!) Gretta and her church are on a journey together, taking with them what they find to be good from Christian tradition and leaving the rest behind. (Have a look at the church’s intriguing vision statement.) Some might say that she and her church have left Christianity completely, but I think strong echoes of the faith can still be heard.

    Her poetry rings true regardless of where one lives on theistic spectrum. I hope her prayerful poems will find wide use in all sorts of churches and in the personal meditations of all kinds of people:

    Inspired by the hands of hope
    working, healing, holding, sustaining,
    we gather this day to embrace
    the task that is ours.
    May our hearts
    be strong for the work we find.
    May our minds be open to the challenges
    it will provide us.
    May our bodies
    be ready when the call comes
    so that no one is ever left behind.
    On this promise we stand
    as those who see this world too clearly
    and yet would see it
    no other way.