Restore Our Earth – 18/04/21
Opening Music: ‘Wonderful World’ performed by Marilisa Valtazanou (2.11)
Opening Words of Welcome: ‘Beatitudes for Earth Day’ by Richard S. Gilbert
Blessed are the heavens,
for they declare the power of creation.
Blessed is the earth, our beloved home,
for she is a planet of plenitude.
Blessed are the waters thereon,
for they gave rise to living things.
Blessed is the land,
for it is the source of life abundant.
Blessed is the air we breathe,
for it fires us to life and love.
Blessed are the beasts of the field,
for they are glorious to behold.
Blessed are the birds of the air,
for they carve a graceful arc in the sky.
Blessed are the mountains, and the seas, and the valleys,
for their variety makes rich our habitat.
Blessed are the fields of grain, the orchards of fruit,
for they give sustenance, asking nothing in return.
Blessed are the dwellers on earth,
for the cherish the privilege of living upon it.
Blessed are they who protect the earth and all her creatures,
from the plants of the field to the trees of the forest,
for their reward shall be harmony with the web of existence.
Rejoice, and be glad, for the earth and her people are one.
These opening words, written by the Unitarian Universalist minister Richard S. Gilbert, welcome all those who have gathered on Zoom this morning to take part in our Sunday service. Welcome to regular members of the congregation, to friends and visitors with us today – also those who might be listening to our podcast, or watching this service on YouTube, at a later date. For those who don’t know me, my name is Jane Blackall, and having been part of the congregation for about 22 years I’m now the Ministry Coordinator with Kensington Unitarians, and for a few more weeks your ministry-student-on-placement, as I finish up my training with Unitarian College.
The title of this morning’s service is ‘Restore Our Earth’ – that’s the theme of this year’s Earth Day – which takes place this coming Thursday (22nd April). As the Earth Day campaign website says: ‘Climate change and other environmental degradations have broken our natural systems, leading to new and fatal diseases as well as a breakdown of the global economy. But just as climate change and coronavirus painfully remind us of the harm we’ve caused, [the theme] ‘Restore Our Earth’ reminds us of the opportunities that [still] lay ahead of us. We must Restore Our Earth not just because we care about the natural world, but because we live on it. Every one of us needs a healthy Earth to support our jobs, livelihoods, health and survival, and happiness. A healthy planet is not an option — it is a necessity.’
So I’ll be leading the service this morning with plenty of help from Liz, David, Corrina and EB – members of the congregation who will each offer their personal reflections on today’s theme – linking our spiritual connection to the Earth with practical actions we can take to help restore it.
Before we go any further, though, let’s take a moment to make sure we’ve fully arrived. Do what you need to do to settle in – you might want to wiggle and stretch first – scrunch your shoulders up and let them go – or perhaps take one conscious breath… Set aside, if you can, anything that you don’t need to think about for the next hour. And do feel free to turn your camera off if that makes it easier for you to focus – of course we like to see all your lovely faces – but if you prefer to lurk that’s fine. There’ll be various opportunities to join in as we go along but all are entirely optional.
Whoever you are, however you are, you are welcome in this gathering, just as you are.
Chalice Lighting: ‘Committed to Respond’ by Lynn Harrison
And now I’ll light our chalice, as we do each Sunday, and at other times when we gather. This simple ritual connects us with Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists the world over, and reminds us of the proudly progressive religious tradition of which this gathering is part.
Committed to respond to the call of a wounded world…
We join together this day with loving hearts, hands and minds.
Embracing the interconnected web of water, air and earth…
We light a fire of sustaining hope, ever bright with love and justice.
May we bring forth this day new wisdom, strength and courage
To create a new world of well-being, peace, and abundance for all.
As we give thanks for this earth, our shared and singular home,
May we dedicate ourselves to its ongoing care and restoration.
Rising to the calls deep within us, and all around us…
May we respond today and always with courage and with love.
Candles of Joy and Concern:
Each week when we gather together, whether it’s in person at the church in Kensington or here as an online congregation, we share a simple ritual of candles of joy and concern, an opportunity to light a candle and share something that is in our heart with the community. So we’ve got a good few minutes now, for anyone who would like to do so, to light a candle (real or imaginary) and say a few words about what it represents.
When you’re ready to speak, unmute your microphone so we can all hear you, and then re-mute yourself once you’ve finished. And if you seem to be having trouble unmuting yourself please wave and one of the co-hosts will try to help with the unmuting. If you are going to speak, please be aware of how long you’re speaking for, so that there’s enough time for everyone who might want to speak. Let’s leave a pause between one candle and the next, so we can honour what’s been shared. And don’t worry too much if two people end up speaking at the same time, or there’s a technical hitch of some sort – these things happen on Zoom – please do persevere! At this point it’d be nice, if you can, to switch to gallery view so we can all see everybody.
I’ve got one more candle here and – as we often do – I’m going to light that to represent all those joys and concerns that we might be holding silently in our heart today, those stories which we don’t feel able to share out loud this morning. Let’s take a moment now to think of all those joys and concerns we have heard expressed… all those little windows into our shared human condition and the life of the world we share… and let’s hold them – and each other – in a spirit of loving-kindness for a moment or two. And let’s take those joys and concerns into an extended time of prayer now.
Prayer: based on some words by Elizabeth Bukey.
You might first want to adjust your position for comfort, close your eyes, or soften your gaze. There might be a posture that helps you feel more prayerful. Whatever works for you. Do whatever you need to do to get into the right state of body and mind for us to pray together – to be fully present here and now, in this sacred time and space – with ourselves, with each other, and with that which is both within us and beyond us.
Spirit of Life, God of All Love,
Gentle Presence which holds us all,
We gather in reverence and thanks for You.
We are grateful for the gift of another breath,
and for each moment of connection, beauty, and truth.
Cry with us in our pain for our world.
Remind us that we are loved, just as we are.
Remind us that we are connected with all that is.
Remind us that we do not journey alone.
Give us what we need for today.
Call us back to our promises, commitments, and values.
Help us love ourselves and each other,
And to show that love in our actions.
Make us instruments of justice, equity, and compassion.
Free us from all that is evil.
We declare that life and love are stronger than tyranny and fear,
That a world of beauty and love is coming,
And we must shape it together. (pause)
Let us take a moment now to focus our loving thoughts and prayers
on all those who are suffering in our world right now –
through illness or injury, isolation or injustice –
and let us also pray for those who care;
who act and speak out to improve the lot of those in need.
In a moment or two of stillness let us call to mind a person, or situation, in need of prayer.
(pause – 30s)
And let us take another moment to focus our thoughts and prayers
on all that we have to be grateful for right now – the goodness
that persists despite all the world’s challenges and uncertainties –
all the kindness, beauty, and pleasure we have known, and witnessed.
In this moment of stillness let us call to mind something we feel moved to give thanks for.
(pause – 30s)
Spirit of Life – God of all Love – as this time of prayer comes to a close,
we offer up our joys and concerns, our hopes and fears,
our beauty and brokenness, and call on you for insight, healing, and renewal.
As we look forward now to the coming week,
help us to live well each day and be our best selves;
using our unique gifts in the service of love, justice and peace. Amen
Hymn: ‘Earth is Gift of God’s Creation’ (Kensington Unitarians 2019)
Our first hymn today speaks of how we are called to care for our precious planet and all the creatures we share it with – ‘Earth is Gift of God’s Creation’ – and I don’t think it’s one we sing very often (this recording is of us singing back in the church in 2019 and our pianist plays it all the way through before we start singing so presumably it was a bit unfamiliar to us even back then). The words will appear on screen in a moment for you to sing along – and we’ll try to make sure you all stay muted – but if you don’t fancy singing it’s absolutely fine to just listen instead.
Earth is gift of God’s creation,
ours to nurture or neglect.
We are called to witness boldly
that all life deserves respect.
We are kin to every being,
sharing space on earth, our home.
Yet we squander vast resources,
seek to save ourselves alone.
When our lifestyle lessens others
we become a measure less.
When we choose to live more simply
we confirm what we profess.
Can we lose our tunnel vision,
see those who are cast aside,
sense the hurt of broken pledges,
hear the planet’s silent cries?
Tending space within earth’s garden,
honouring the future here,
we can serve with God as partners,
a community of care.
Strengthened by the rainbow’s promise,
sign of God’s enduring grace,
let us dare to live our calling
in our time and in our place!
Reflection by Liz Tuckwell:
Jane asked for volunteers to write a short piece for today’s service and ignoring my father’s advice to me, “Never volunteer”, I stepped up.
I think we all have gained a deeper emotional connection to the Earth this last year and appreciate it much more. The sights and sounds of nature around us has helped many of us to cope with the isolation and social deprivations. I know the sound of birds chirping in my garden in the early morning and at twilight never fails to cheer me up. The joy I feel when I look at a beautiful sunset, the pinks and scarlets swirling across the blue sky. Sarah’s service last week, ‘Beauty All Around Us’ struck a chord with me as it must have done with many people. I was surprised by just how happy and hopeful I felt when I went for a walk in the park a couple of weeks ago and spotted the different flowers starting to bloom; yellow daffodils, bluebells and other blue and red flowers that I don’t know the name for because I’m not much of a gardener. They all comforted me by reminding me that nature carries on regardless of what people are doing, at least if humanity allows it to do so.
And that’s the rub, isn’t it? If humanity allows the earth to do what it should. We are constantly receiving bad news about how people’s actions are affecting the natural world from the ice in the Artic and Antarctic to the jungles in the Amazon. It sometimes makes me feel helpless – what can I do as an individual to change things? There are greedy big corporations ruining the planet who don’t seem to have a sense of enlightened self-interest. The slogan I’ve seen several times, I think says it all, ‘There is no Planet B’. But I remind myself that if everyone did some small thing to reduce the environmental impact then there would be many people having an environmental impact.
I recently did an online course on the futurelearn.com, which I recommend incidentally as there are many free and interesting courses on there. I studied the From Waste to Value: How To Tackle Food Waste course with my sister and niece. I had never before realised just how much food waste is part of the environmental problem. I’m now trying to put some of the actions suggested into practice even small things such as doing a meal plan for the week to make sure that I waste as little food as possible. I’m also trying to cut down on my use of plastic although I find that more difficult. The course did also give me hope because it gave examples of products being created to help stop food wastage such as special labels on food cartons that tell you if the food can still be used and avoid the debate about best by dates. There is a lot happening to stop or mitigate environmental damage and I hope that we can do it in time.
Reflection by Corrina Dolso
I grew up in a suburb of Sydney where our house backed onto a nature reserve, complete with its own cove. I was woken every morning by the Kookaburras and noisy Cockatoos, and my childhood was spent exploring the tracks and playing imaginary games of pirates and adventurers down on the small beach. I was very privileged to live in such a unique and beautiful place which forged in me a deep reverence for nature. I felt like there wasn’t a distinction between nature and us it just spilled out into everything in our lives, we were immersed in it so deeply that I felt a part of it.
I now live in the Suffolk Countryside and getting my fix of nature is not difficult or time consuming…again it is all around me…In urban areas finding that connection can be more challenging, however it is also around us in the very air we breathe, the trees poking up from pavements at bus stops and in the birds taking a pause on powerlines…we can seek out some green space or grow a few plants on our balconies and then we are making these connections and can possibly feel a part of the planet rather than something which we simply observe and use, it can help us as a species to survive in the future..
If you think about the ways in which nature restores us, the beautiful places we visit to feel energised, at peace, and simply to feel a sense of something greater than ourselves, then I think we’d all agree that the natural world plays a large part in that for us as human beings.
We often think of the Earth in the feminine, Mother Earth the nurturer, the giver, the life force…however she is currently screaming, crying and pulling her hair out. She is overworked, overwhelmed and under nourished. As she can’t speak to us in the same way we speak to each other to get our needs met, instead she burns, floods, melts, and is heating up to get our attention.
And whilst we are born from this planet in an evolutionary sense, is a Mother the best way in which to think of our planet? If we think of it as a Mother, are we unconsciously taking her for granted because she will love us unconditionally forever and never become completely hostile to us?
I wonder if it is better to think of our planet as an extension of ourselves…does this collectively help us to care more about the planet because we are the planet, we are nature and nature is us too? Or should we think about the planet like a friend who is suffering from an illness and needs some TLC, some help, some nurturing?
The message for this year’s Earth day is Restore the Earth, it is an important reminder to us all that we are a part of this planet not just creatures living on it…that we have a role to play in its care and survival. It is a chance to stop and notice the environment around us and think about our impact and how we can make some changes or become more active.
We are all doing something in our small way to restore the planet whether it is recycling, using less plastic, cycling to work, eating less meat and possibly supporting conservation groups or even picking up litter in our neighbourhoods when we are out for a walk…all these small acts can be a part of something bigger, something restorative… If we love and care about ourselves, our families, friends and communities then we should also extend that to our environments because we are all connected, and we all rely on each other to survive and thrive…
Lastly, we could also consider that Earth is our home rather than our Mother, and as visitors on this planet we should behave like welcomed guests who do not leave a trail of destruction behind them but tread gently and leave it preserved for the generations of visitors of the future.
Meditation: ‘The Song of the Soul of the Earth’ by Susan Podebradsky
Thank you to Liz and Corrina for sharing your thoughtful reflections with us all. We’ve come now to a time of meditation. You might like to have a wiggle and get as comfortable as you can in your chair (if you’re in a chair!) – put your feet flat on the floor to help ground and steady yourself – maybe close your eyes. In a while we’ll have our virtual chalice flame on screen.
There’ll be a few words – a poem called ‘The Song of the Soul of the Earth’ by Susan Podebradsky to take us into a time of meditation – words which draw us into the deep connection between our own physical bodies and the body of the Earth itself; this poem will be followed by a few minutes of shared stillness during which we’ll have our virtual chalice on screen in case you like to focus on the flickering flame. The silence will come to an end with some lighthearted music from Marilisa Valtazanou, accompanied by images of some fine and upstanding citizens – including a few familiar faces! – making little, local, steps to ‘Restore Our Earth’ through the medium of litter-picking.
As ever, of course, you are free to think your own thoughts, and meditate in your own way.
A true story
The Song of the Soul of the Earth
And we feel it
Deep in our bodies,
And deep in our souls,
The Song of the Soul of the Earth
Is our song too.
If you ride your breath
And quiet your mind,
You will hear
The heartbeat of the Earth.
You will feel
The ebb and flow of the tides
In the push and pull
Of the blood beneath your skin.
The air you breathe out
Joins the breezes
that circle the Earth,
And when you breathe in,
The air in China
Stirs ever so slightly.
Where do we begin?
Where do we end?
When we take in
The things around us,
What we leave behind
A mindful moment
The Song of the Soul of the Earth
And we feel it
Deep in our bodies,
And deep in our souls,
The Song of the Soul of the Earth
Is our song too.
Silence: [3 minutes silence]
Musical Interlude: ‘Wombling Song’ performed by Marilisa Valtazanou
Reflection by David Carter
Unlike litter – which we can see and can often deal with right away by putting it in a bin – the causes of Climate Change are invisible and the effects may be not at all obvious in the places we live and visit. As with Covid-19, we have to rely on the expertise of scientists to understand it – and what we have to do to avoid its terrible effects.
It’s not only green activists like Greta Thunberg and naturalists like David Attenborough who take Climate Change seriously. A recent BBC News online article starts: “US envoy John Kerry is heading to Shanghai to woo China in advance of a climate summit President Joe Biden is hosting next week.” One of many top-level international negotiations!
Climate Change is sometimes called ‘global warming’ but this term has the disadvantage that some places can be cooler from one year to the next – that’s fluctuations in weather, not climate. Climate is weather averaged over about 30 years. The changes that concern us began in the mid-1800s when people began to burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas in the Industrial Revolution. When burnt, these fossil fuels release greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide which form a ‘blanket’ around the planet trapping the heat from the sun and warming the whole earth. Some of us might feel that a warmer climate would be nice. But there are serious downsides: rising ocean levels and acidification and extreme weather events such as heatwaves, droughts, and floods. These are likely to result in food insecurity from damage to pasture, farmland and fisheries. All this can lead to conflict when people fight over resources (food, water, shelter), or mass migration if people give up and leave their homelands. Such problems are more likely in poorer, less developed countries.
How can we stop or limit Climate Change? Most important is to make large and rapid reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions. This can be done by governments, businesses, organisations and individuals around the world. In 2019, the UK became the world’s first major economy to legislate for a target of ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050 – less than 30 years away. This is a big topic and I’ll mention just three things that we as individuals can do: 1: where possible – insulate our homes. 2: on colder days, put on warmer clothes rather than turn the heating up. 3. Limit long-haul and frequent flights. There are websites, such as www.hubbub.org.uk/ that are full of practical eco-tips. Those living lavishly have a greater responsibility to change their lifestyles. A recent report from the Cambridge Sustainability Commission on Scaling Behaviour Change found that the world’s wealthiest 1% produce double the combined carbon emissions of the poorest 50%. The authors want to deter SUV drivers and frequent fliers – and persuade the wealthy to insulate their homes well.
If anyone would like to know more about Climate Change and/or what they can do to stop or limit it, please feel free to email me: use my personal email address if you have it, or email@example.com. The eco@ address is for West London GreenSpirit Group, which is hosted by Kensington Unitarians. Sarah and I got this going in August 2019 to promote care for, and spiritual-emotional connection with, our planet earth home – primarily by the cycle of eight annual festivals known as the Wheel of the Year. They are the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, Summer and Winter Solstices and the four festivals in between. Our next meeting is on Saturday 1st May at 3pm – Beltane or May Day. These gatherings, even online, often have a celebratory feel – care for our planet earth home need not be all austerities, doom and gloom!
There’s not time to tell you about all the environmental things I’ve done in my life but they’ve included practical work with The Conservation Volunteers and many years of important back office work for two environmental organisations. Currently, in addition to West London GreenSpirit activities, I produce and distribute roughly every month a selection of eco news items with a spiritual- ethical dimension. If you’d like to try it, please email me. Thank you.
Reflection by EB featuring a reading by Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer
I would like to start off by sharing a short passage from ‘Returning the Gifts’ by Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director of Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at Syracuse University and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer.
“We are showered every day with the gifts of the Earth, gifts we have neither earned nor paid for: air to breathe, nurturing rain, black soil, berries and honeybees, the tree that became this page, a bag of rice, and the exuberance of a field of goldenrod and asters at full bloom.
My economics colleagues speak of these everyday miracles as “natural resources,” as if they were our property, just waiting to be transformed. In the ecological sciences we call them “ecosystem services,” as if they were the inevitable outcomes of the ongoing function of the ecological machine. But, to me, simply as a human person filling my basket with berries and my belly with pie, they feel like gifts, bestowed by the other beings whose lives throb around us.
Though we live in a world made of gifts, we find ourselves harnessed to institutions and an economy that relentlessly asks, “What more can we take from the Earth?” This worldview of unbridled exploitation is to my mind the greatest threat to the life that surrounds us. Even our definitions of sustainability revolve around trying to find the formula to ensure that we can keep on taking, far into the future. Isn’t the question we need, “What does the Earth ask of us?”
The premise of Earth asking something of me makes my heart swell. I celebrate the implicit recognition of the animacy of the Earth: that the living planet has the capacity to ask something of us, and that we have the capacity to respond. Can it be that an entity as vast, as whole and generous, as the Earth has need of me? Me? Could it be that we are more than passive recipients of her gifts, but participants in her well-being? We are honored by the request. It lets us know that we belong.
I’ve been told that my Potawatomi ancestors taught that the job of a human person is to learn, “What can I give in return for the gifts of the Earth?”
I have learned that to best return the gifts of the Earth, as Dr. Kimmerer has said, one needs to understand and value all the Earth’s gifts. Often self-reflecting while surrounded by or in nature. A time to recognize that everything is connected, and that it is this intrinsic interconnectedness between all living beings that allows for the Earth to provide us with so many gifts, from the songbirds that greet us in the morning to the bacteria in the soil that help grow our food. Yet, it is easy to be distracted from this interconnectedness by life’s many duties or by the lively and bustling towns and cities in which so many of us now live in. Nature can instead offer us a refuge, a place, for when we are feeling hopeless, jaded or disillusioned by the state of our Earth. A refuge away from the constant reminder of an imminent climate breakdown or mass extinction.
It is in these moments in nature, I take time to practice gratitude for the abundance and endless generosity of the Earth, and to reflect on what is my responsibility to the Earth. I often think about the sacred teaching by the Iroquois Peoples, known as the Seven Generation Principle. The belief that the decisions and actions we make today should result in an ecologically thriving and resilient Earth for seven generations into the future. What decisions and actions can I take to make our Earth more ecologically thriving and resilient, for my children, my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren? “What can I give in return for the gifts of the Earth?” Perhaps, I can create a vibrant community garden, buy more second-hand and pre-loved items, eat less meat, buy less environmentally harmful chemicals or reduce my plastic consumption. Even with the endless possibilities of taking individual action, I have learned to strive for better and not perfection. And to be mindful of not creating a set of rigid or extreme environmental principles in my daily life, that should I fail to achieve will inevitably lead to disappointment and a sense of failure.
“What can I give in return for the gifts of the Earth?” I share the knowledge, wisdom, stories and lived experiences I have acquired to uplift and empower those around me to help restore and heal our Earth. To teach, not through environmental righteousness or condemnation for those around us failing to uphold unobtainable environmental ideals, that not even I could uphold, but rather through understanding and compassion. There is more than enough hate, fear and blame spread around for why our Earth is in such a terrible state. More than enough people have become numb and disengaged to the plights that threaten our Earth. Instead, I challenge you and myself to empower others to become environmental leaders and changemakers, be it family, relatives, friends, colleagues, or community members. To engage with their curiosity about the natural world and all of the Earth’s wonders, joys and burdens. To share with others not only why the Earth should be protected and restored, but how they too can be in service and help heal our Earth, so that they may inspire others to do the same. This could be empowering others to take action through helping them start a community park clean-up, write to their council to arrange for a recycling program, participate in a climate march, or start an online awareness campaign about businesses using environmentally damaging practices.
By working together, collectively, we can create lasting, systemic change that restores and heals our Earth. In the words of environmentalist Joanna Macy, “grace happens when we act with others on behalf of our world.” By actively choosing to dedicate our lives to living by our values and beliefs, leading by example and working collectively together, we can create and champion for a more just, equitable, healthy and ecologically thriving Earth.
Hymn: ‘Blue Boat Home’ (Kensington Unitarians 2018)
Thanks so much to David and EB for sharing their reflections. We’ve got one more hymn to sing together now – it’s an old favourite of our congregation – and one which celebrates the Earth as our ‘Blue Boat Home’. This recording is of our congregation back in the church in 2018 and I reckon we’re in fine voice though as usual there’s a bit of rustling. As always we’ll try to make sure you’re muted so feel free to sing along with gusto (or you can just listen if you’d rather).
Though below me, I feel no motion
Standing on these mountains and plains,
Far away from the rolling ocean
Still my dry land heart can say:
I’ve been sailing all my life now,
Never harbour or port have I known.
The wide universe is the ocean I travel
And the earth is my blue boat home.
Sun, my sail, and moon my rudder
As I ply the starry sea,
Leaning over the edge in wonder,
Casting questions into the deep.
Drifting here with my ship’s companions,
All we kindred pilgrim souls,
Making our way by the lights of the heavens
In our beautiful blue boat home.
I give thanks to the waves upholding me,
Hail the great winds urging me on,
Greet the infinite sea before me,
Sing the sky my sailor’s song:
I was born upon the fathoms,
Never harbour or port have I known.
The wide universe is the ocean I travel,
And the earth is my blue boat home.
Thanks to Jeannene for her zoom hosting today and ever-so-reassuring presence at the helm! Thanks to Liz, Corrina, David and EB for their reflections – I’m hugely grateful for you pulling this together at short notice – as some of you know I have been laid up with sciatica and so I put out an emergency call for help earlier in the week for help with today’s service. Thanks to Marilisa who gleefully ran with my whimsical request for the Wombles theme and reported that it was played on ukulele, two recorders, snare drum, tambourine, glockenspiel, kazoo, harmonica, and – in the spirit of creative recycling – a selection of jam jars. Thanks to all our Wombles who sent pictures – Pat and John litter-picking in West London, Marianne in the Falkland Islands, my mate Chris who’s a regular litter-picker with the Sheffield Green Party, and my dad’s old mate Brian who’s Wombling every day in his 80s (and training up his grandkids).
There are a number of opportunities to connect in the week ahead: Coffee morning on Zoom at 10.30 on Tuesday. You can still sign up for Heart and Soul, our contemplative spiritual gathering –a few spaces tonight and one or two on Friday – on the theme of ‘Art’. Don’t forget we’ll have virtual coffee-time afterwards, chat in small groups, if you’d like. And if you can bear it we like to take a group photo after the closing music so stick around.
Save the date: Poetry Sharing on Zoom with Brian on Wednesday 28th February at 7pm. Please let Brian know (or email me and I’ll pass it on) so you can get the Zoom link. Simple format: choose a poem you like, or have written yourself, and would like the group to hear. And let Brian have the poem in time to collect them all together and send round in advance.
Special National Event this Friday at 6pm – short Zoom service attached to our national annual meetings – I’m told it’ll only be 45 mins long – theme of ‘Recovery and Renewal’ – could be hundreds of us there – Jeannene and I are helping to host! Led by Kate Whyman of Plymouth, Shana Begum of Hampstead, Peter Fairbrother of Edinburgh, Kate Brady McKenna of Bury, Simon Hall of Northampton, and Bob Janis-Dillon of Merseyside. Link is in the weekly email.
Back again on Zoom next week at 10am when it’ll be another congregational service on ‘Books Which Changed Our Lives’ with contributions from Hannah, Maria, Pat and Marianne. It’s fine to share the link. And feel free to drop us a line during the week to get in touch.
We’ve just got some brief closing words now, followed by another great song from Marilisa to end. So I invite you to select gallery view at this point so we can all see each other and get a sense of our community-and-connectedness for this closing.
Closing Words: adapted from words by Gary Kowalski
Our time is short here on the earth.
Around us swirl immensities of time and space,
A universe infinite in all directions.
How small our hopes and cares may seem
Amid the panorama of creation.
Yet we are not separate from the cosmos
But have evolved and grown out of it,
Like the leaves of a tree
Or the waves upon a sea.
And our thoughts are its thoughts,
Our lives a manifestation of never ending vitality,
Our spirits a microcosm
Of the beauty and creativity of the whole.
Fill us, then, with reverence and compassion
For all who are our kin,
Cloud and sun, sibling and cousin,
The multitude of beings
Who share this improbable and never-to-be repeated moment,
All expressions, like ourselves,
Of the Mind-at-Large,
In whom we live and move and have our being.
And, in the days to come, may we be renewed in our commitment
to help Restore the Earth, our one and only home. Amen.
Closing Music: ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ performed by Marilisa Valtazanou
Jane Blackall and Congregation
18th April 2021