Off the Hook – 5/9/21

Opening Music: Piano Instrumental performed by Marilisa Valtazanou (2.21)

Opening Words: ‘This Hour of Worship’ by Carolyn S. Owen-Towle (adapted)

Let us enter into this hour of worship –
this time and space dedicated to
all that is most worthy in this life,
the depths and the heights of it all –
let us give our undivided attention
to what really matters, just for a while.

Come, bringing all of who you are –
all your busy thoughts and big emotions,
your complications and your contradictions –
rest and quiet your week-worn spirit, for you are here
to touch again eternal springs of hope and renewal.

Calm your hurried, harried, pace –
and claim this precious chance to find perspective –
for this hour let the cares, the fretfulness and worry be set aside.
Forgive yourself—you are so very worthy of moving on,
of making new efforts, of trying again – it’s a new day.

And know that you are not alone in all this.
There is strength and caring support for you here.
You will find comfort and kindness if you but ask. Look around.
You are a part of this community, if you choose it. And you can make it what you will.

So let us join our hearts together as we enter into this precious hour of worship.

These opening words, adapted from a piece by Carolyn Owen-Towle, 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 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 22 years I’m now Ministry Coordinator here and (for just a few days more) a Ministry Student at Unitarian College.

If you are here for the first time today – we’re especially glad to you have you with us – welcome! I hope you find something of what you need here – a bit of consolation or spiritual uplift perhaps. Please do hang around afterwards for a chat or drop us an email to introduce yourself if you’d like. Or you might think about coming to one of our small-group gatherings during the week as they’re a good way to get to know people more organically and get a rounded sense of the congregation. And if you’re a regular here – thank you for all that you do to welcome all who come each Sunday. Even on Zoom, we have a part to play in co-creating this sacred space, this sense of community. So whoever you are, however you are, know you are welcome in this space, just as you are.

As we always say, feel free to do what you need to do to be comfortable this hour – it’s always lovely to see your faces in the gallery and get a sense of our togetherness as a community – but we know for some it will feel more comfortable to keep your camera mostly-off and that’s fine. Similarly there’ll be opportunities to join in as we go along there’s no compulsion to do so. You can quietly lurk with our blessing – you know how to find us if you want to say hello later.

This morning’s service is all about letting ourselves – and others – ‘Off the Hook’. In the coming hour we will be pondering the need to balance striving for achievement and high standards in life with the equally important need to cut ourselves (and each other) some slack from time to time. And we’ll be thinking about this especially in the context of the times we are living through; how important it is to recognise the cumulative toll that these last few years have taken on so many of us and not just minimise it or try to shrug it off and attempt to carry on as if nothing has happened.

Chalice Lighting: ‘The Light of this Chalice’ by Alan G. Deale (adapted)

I’ll light our chalice now, 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 historic and progressive religious tradition of which this gathering is part.

The light of this chalice is a frail thing.
It may flicker in the face of trouble and anxiety.
It can be snuffed out by the winds of cynicism and apathy.
May its little flame be a reminder of the power of the spirit.
Let us rededicate ourselves to bringing the light
that lifts our hearts and increases the world’s joy.

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. If you are going to speak, please be aware of how long you’re speaking for, so that there’s time for others to say something too. 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 candle to represent all those joys and concerns that we might be holding silently in our heart today. Let’s take a moment now to think of all those joys and concerns we have heard expressed… and let’s hold them – and each other – in compassion and loving-kindness, as we move into an extended time of prayer now, which will be based on some words by the enfleshed collective.

So let’s each do what we need to do to get ourselves into the right state of body and mind for it – maybe shift your position, intentionally adopt a prayerful posture – close your eyes or soften your gaze – whatever helps you get your heart in the right place to be fully present with yourself, each other, and that larger presence which holds us all.

Prayer: based on words by ‘enfleshed’

Spirit of Life, God of All Love,
in whom we live and move and have our being.
As we turn our attention to the depths of this life –
the cosmic mystery and wisdom that abides in All-That-Is –
we tune in to your Holy presence within us and amongst us.

When so much of our world is groaning with fatigue and injustice,
we are invited to turn to God and to one another;
turn to the deepest reality we know: the oneness at the heart of all.
We are not meant to carry the struggles of the world alone.
And so, in a spirit of collective embrace this morning,
may we share together in prayer for all that troubles our hearts.

For all of the bodies in suffering – deprived of resources,
withheld from care, or made into targets of violence. Hear our prayers.

For all whose spirits are in despair – those who are facing loss or grief,
those who are isolated, or those struggling to accept their own worth. Hear our prayers.

For all of the ways power is wielded over communities
and individuals – for those living under oppressive forces,
for the temptation towards complicity with injustice,
and for the ways the your name is sometimes used, God,
as a weapon rather than a tool for healing and liberation. Hear our prayers.

In a few moments of silence and stillness now, let us call to mind
those sufferings and struggles that weigh heavy on our hearts this day,
and let us hold them gently in the light of love; that larger love that holds all.

Just as we are not meant to shoulder the world’s pain alone,
we are equally invited to delight with one another in the joy that sustains us.

For the beauty that grows around us and within us, we give thanks.
For the gifts of sharing and relationships that transform and sustain us – we give thanks.
For art and music and stories and truths that foster love and connection – we give thanks.
For every source of courage in the face of all that makes us afraid – we give thanks.

In a few moments of silence and stillness now, let us call to mind
some of the many gifts we have been given in the week just passed,
and inwardly treasure these blessings, be they large or small, with gratitude.

For your presence within and around us, in our highs and lows,
our hope and our despair, God, we give thanks.
Hear our prayers and deepen our willingness to show up for one another,
sharing in each other’s burdens and working for one another’s protection and care.

God of all love, 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: ‘We Light the Flame’ performed by the Unitarian Music Society

Time for our first hymn, ‘We Light the Flame’, which speaks of our intentions as we join together in community. The words will appear on screen so that you can sing along – or you might prefer just to listen – we’ll do our best to make sure you’re all muted throughout so nobody will hear you.

We light the flame that kindles our devotions.
We lift our hearts in blessed community.
The mind has thoughts, the heart its true emotions,
we celebrate in worship, full and free.
Our faith transcends the boundaries of oceans.
All shall be granted worth and dignity.

So many ways to witness to the wonder.
So many dreams by day for us to dare.
Yet, reaching out, each way is made the grander,
and love made bold for dreamers everywhere.
Diversity will never cast asunder
our common weal, our bonds of mutual care.

Infinite Spirit, dwell with us, we pray thee,
that we may share in life abundantly.
Forgive our sins, feed us with good bread daily,
with strength resist temptation steadfastly.
O God of life, sustain us now, and may we
with mindful hearts, be thankful constantly.

Reading: ‘The Two Voices of God’ (excerpt) by Harold S. Kushner (read by Antony)

A few years ago, I wrote a book entitled ‘How Good Do We Have to Be?’ Its basic message was that God does not expect perfection from us, so we should not demand perfection from ourselves or those around us, for God knows what a complicated story a human life is, and loves us despite our inevitable lapses. As I travelled around the country talking about my book, something interesting kept happening.

Although the people in my audience welcomed the message that God loved them despite their mistakes and failings, in every audience there would be a significant number of people who were uncomfortable with it. They wanted to believe that God loved them, and other people loved them, because they deserved it, not because God and the other people in their lives were gracious enough to put up with them. They wanted to believe that God cared about the choices they made every day, choosing between selfishness and generosity, between honesty and deceitfulness, and that the world became a better place when they made the right choices. The people in my audience felt that they had worked hard to lead moral lives. They might hope that God would make allowances for human frailty, but they would be sorely disappointed by the response, ‘That’s all right, I really didn’t expect much from you anyway.’

My answer to them when they challenged me was that I believe God speaks to us in two voices.

One is the stern, commanding voice issuing from the mountaintop, thundering ‘Thou shalt not!,’ summoning us to be more, to reach higher, to demand greater things of ourselves, forbidding us to use the excuse ‘I’m only human,’ because to be human is a wondrous thing. God’s other voice is the voice of compassion and forgiveness, an embracing, cleansing voice, assuring us that when we have aimed high and fallen short we are still loved. God understands that when we give in to temptation it is a temporary lapse and does not reflect our true character.

Some years ago, Erich Fromm wrote a little book called The Art of Loving, in which he distinguished between what he called “mother love” and “father love” (emphasizing that people of whatever gender are capable of both kinds of love; [don’t get too hung up on the gendering here]). Mother love says: You are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, and I will always love you no matter what; nothing you ever do, or fail to do, will make me stop loving you. Father love says: I will love you if you earn my love and respect, if you get good grades, if you make the team, if you get into a good college, earn a good salary.

Fromm insists that every one of us needs to experience both kinds of loving. It may seem at first glance that mother love is good, warm, and freely given, father love harsh and conditional (‘I will only love you if…’). But as my audiences taught me, and as a moment’s reflection might teach us all, sometimes we want to hear the father’s message that we are loved because we deserve it, not only because the other person is so generous and tolerant. People need to hear the message that they are good.

And people who are not entirely sure of their goodness may need that validation even more.

Meditation: ‘Badly’ by Lynn Ungar

Many thanks to Antony, who squeezed in a pre-record for us between rehearsals at the RSC. We’ve come now to a time of meditation. I’m going to share a short poem called ‘Badly’ by the Unitarian Universalist minister Lynn Ungar to take us into a time of meditation – a poem that reflects on the joys, the virtues even, of letting ourselves of the hook – I hope her words will offer some comfort or reassurance to you in relation to your own struggles. The 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 flame. The silence will come to an end with a chant which will be familiar to some of us, ‘Meditation on Breathing’, sung this time by Marilisa Valtazanou. Feel free to join in with the chant at home. So let’s each do what we need to do to get comfortable – have a wiggle if you need to – perhaps put your feet flat on the floor to help ground and steady yourself – maybe close your eyes. As we let these words by Lynn Ungar take us into a time of meditation:

Anything worth doing
is worth doing badly.
No one ever did something well
without doing it poorly first.
But if we’re going to get real,
the chances of your ever getting
really good are slim at best.
The Olympics and the pro leagues
fled with the end of your puberty.
Maybe the Nobel or Pulitzer
is out there waiting, but
I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Even on our best days
most of us are merely competent,
and much of the time
adequate is a stretch.
Appearances aside, this might be
one of the happiest things I know.
I hereby absolve you
of the need to be better
than anyone else. Poof.
It is possible to suck at things
with great love. Grab your ukulele
and I’ll get my mandolin.
Meet me on the porch.
We’ll play together, under tempo
and ever so slightly out of tune.

Musical Interlude: ‘Meditation on Breathing’ performed by Marilisa Valtazanou (1.44)

I’ve got another reading for you now – a bit longer than usual – but it really touched my heart when I read it this week; I think you’ll like it too. It’s by Sarah Bessey and it’s called ‘A Reminder’.

Reading: ‘A Reminder’ by Sarah Bessey

You don’t have to be productive and you don’t have to change the world. You’re already so loved.

You don’t have to be smart. You don’t have to be simple. You don’t have to read all the right books by the right people. You’re already so loved.

You don’t have to be beautiful or thin with an articulated and ironic fashion sense, not at all. But if you’re into that kind of thing, well, that’s okay, too. You don’t have to be healthy in your mind or in your body. You can watch trashy television or you can be proud of your televisionless home. You can be artistic or scientific. You can spend your life travelling to meet beautiful people or you can live and die in the town where you were born.

You don’t have to conform to someone else’s ideas of holy or acceptable. You can be from the wrong side of the tracks or the gated community, suburbs or urban or rural. You can work with your hands and your mind, your back and your brain. You don’t have to be educated, not at all. You don’t have to have a degree or letters after your name. You don’t have to know the right people and boast a carefully curated Instagram feed with the famous and the beautiful and the influential. You don’t have to identify with certain political persuasions or ideology. You can be a social justice warrior or, you know, not.

None of this moves the meter of your belovedness. God won’t say, Okay, now I love her just a bit more because, look, she is finally out of debt, or thin, or powerful, or influential, or tireless.

Your family story can be beautiful or terrible – or, like most of us, a bit of both. Perhaps you’re famous or well-known or influential, that’s okay. Perhaps you’re quiet and unknown, maybe you hate that, maybe you love it. You don’t have to be a mother or a father, you don’t have to be married, you don’t have to be single, you don’t have to want children or raise children. You don’t have to be sober or clean. You don’t have to give away everything you own and take a vow of poverty, you don’t’ have to be prosperous either. Church or no church, or a certain kind of church only, whatever.

You can doubt or feel great certainty (even if that certainty is in your doubt). You can believe in God, doubt God, seek God. You can be someone well-acquainted with unanswered prayers. You can carry chronic pain or dance through life. You can be introverted or extroverted. You don’t have to love yourself or even like yourself, you are loved. Whether your life looks well put together from the outside while hiding a hot mess inside or vice versa, sometimes on the same day, you are loved. Morning lark, night owl, sinner, saint, child of God, siblings all of us, we are loved.

You have nothing to prove. You have nothing to earn.

Sure, any one of those things might change because you are loved. You may know already where God wants to breathe change and wholeness into you, bringing your life more into line with the person you were meant to be all along.

Love can and does transform us in every way – our ideology, our opinions, our habits, our values, our priorities, our very names. But it’s not a prerequisite or a requirement, it’s not behaviour modification, it never is, not for Love.

Love has happened and it is happening and it will happen. It is kind and patient towards you.

You’re already so loved, you aren’t earning a breath of love or tenderness more than what you already have just by breathing – just by existing, just by being here in the wonder. Your name is already written in the lines of the hands of the universe. You’re star-breath-of-dust, and you are beloved, intimately, faithfully, wholly. It’s your lifelong rock. You are known. You are loved with delight and abundance, with choice and desire, with covenantal love.

You may feel it or not.

You are so loved. You are so loved. You are so loved.

Reflection: ‘Off the Hook’ by Jane Blackall

I wonder how many of you were glued to the Toyko Olympics on TV this summer. Maybe not quite so many of us were watching as in years gone by, what with the inconvenient time difference to Japan, and the rights being sold off so that only a fraction of the action made it to free-to-air channels. But even if you aren’t an avid sports fan I imagine that most of you will have heard at least something of the story of Simone Biles, US gymnast, and all-round legend in her own lifetime. In large part, she inspired this morning’s theme.

In case this story passed you by, or you’re sketchy on the details, I want to share a little precis published in the Guardian, part of a longer and rather uplifting article by Sirin Kale, titled ‘Love, Courage and Solidarity: 20 Essential Lessons Young Athletes Taught Us This Summer’. She writes:

‘Simone Biles, widely acknowledged as the greatest female gymnast ever, arrived at Tokyo 2020 with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Commentators were predicting a clean sweep for the first woman to land a Yurchenko double pike. (I could try to describe it, but it wouldn’t do it justice. Just imagine the rules of gravity have been suspended.) But things began to go wrong in qualifying. They fell apart when she stepped out of bounds during her floor routine, then aborted her vault in mid-air during the women’s team finals, narrowly avoiding serious injury and scoring one of the lowest marks of her career. Biles subsequently pulled out of the women’s all-around and the women’s team event, explaining that she had lost her air-awareness –
a phenomenon known as the “twisties” – and was struggling with her mental health.

She later said it “sucked” not to be able to compete when she had spent the past half-decade preparing. But she explained that she had been inspired to talk about her mental health by watching [tennis star] Naomi Osaka [do likewise earlier in the summer] and that she had quit to protect her “mind and body”. Some armchair experts would have preferred Biles to risk her neck for their viewing pleasure. But, overwhelmingly, the public reaction was compassionate and supportive. Biles showed us that mental and physical health are connected – and that there is no shame in quitting to prioritise your wellbeing. For this, and not for her Yurchenko double pike, Biles will always be the GOAT [that is, the Greatest of All Time].’

In a way, Simone Biles is an embodiment of the message I want to get across this morning, and it’s a pretty simple message really: it is a wonderful thing to aim high, to strive for excellence, to commit ourselves to a goal or a practice or a way of being in the world. It is astonishing to see the amazing skill and verve of the likes of Biles who are masters of their art. Undoubtedly huge sacrifices are necessary in order to reach these (quite literally) dizzy heights and for some – not just those who reach the very top – these sacrifices will seem to be worth it. But for some people, sometimes, the cost of all this striving is just too high. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth the detrimental effect on mental and physical wellbeing, or on our relationships, or any of the other significant goods in our lives. This is not to endorse giving up lightly, or leaving people in the lurch, without good reason. I don’t think anybody’s saying Simone Biles just decided to give it a miss because she couldn’t be bothered.

But her example is a reminder we can just say no. Nope. No more. Even if the eyes, and the hopes, of the entire world are on us (though I don’t think any of us here today are under Olympian levels of scrutiny). That’s what Simone Biles showed us this summer. We can let ourselves off the hook – maybe just temporarily, taking time out, coming back later to try again – or maybe for good. Maybe a certain project or goal has had its day, and our focus, our time and energy, needs to move elsewhere, no matter how many people are invested in us keeping on keeping on. Because our ultimate worth does not depend on our achievement or our productivity. There’s nothing special we have to do to be worthy of love and respect, to earn our right to exist. As we so often say: we believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Inherent – we don’t have to do anything to earn it.

I could stop there, with this mini-reflection, and it would be enough. There’s your take-away. But perhaps there are a few little asterisks I ought to mention too. The first is to acknowledge that many of us are kept ‘on the hook’ by the economic necessities of our lives. For as long as we are embedded in a capitalist society – one which wants ever more of our time and energy – one which encourages the false belief that we should measure our worth by our productivity, and relies on an unhealthy culture, piggybacking on the vestiges of the protestant work ethic – while we’re stuck in this culture maybe our choices are somewhat limited. That’s an unjust pressure coming from without, and one which we should collectively resist, but it’s a reality we need to acknowledge. Having said that, we often have more choices than we think we do, and it’s important to remember that as well. Letting ourselves ‘off the hook’ might be the hard choice rather than the easy one, there may be consequences, in this society that so often wants to use us up and burn us out for profit. But we don’t have to accept and internalise those values. And for those of us who have more choices, those who have a bit of (relative) privilege, it’s on us to keep our eyes and ears open to the pressures that keep others unjustly ‘on the hook’. And do what we can to disrupt, overturn, or at least ameliorate them.

Another asterisk, though, is contained in the reading from Harold Kushner that Antony read for us earlier. There are two voices of God, two messages we need to hear, and both are true. On one hand, we don’t need to be perfect, we are inherently worthy of love no matter what. On the other hand, it is good for us to aim high, to stretch ourselves, creatively, morally, to do better, to flourish in our fullness and make the most of the life we’ve been given. Both/And. There’s a tension between these two and a balance to be struck. Maybe each of us has a temperamental tendency to err on one side or the other: perhaps you tend to be pretty easy-going and don’t need to be told twice to cut yourself some slack (if so, this morning’s message probably isn’t news to you); but perhaps, instead, you’re someone who tends to be hard on yourself, someone who’s internalised those destructive messages from the society we’re living in, someone who feels that whatever you’ve done, whatever you’ve given, it is not-quite-enough (and if that’s you, I hope you’re really hearing the message of this morning’s service: you don’t have to justify your existence by working yourself into the ground and doing yourself harm).

The final asterisk I want to add, for today, is to ground this message in the context of this moment in history: the effect of living through the pandemic in particular, but also living into awareness of the increasingly obvious and scary impacts of climate change, and the clear unveiling of systemic injustices that are plain for all to see. Several of you will have already heard me say this in other contexts but I went to a workshop about a month ago which was, on the face of it, a training to help Unitarian leaders prepare to offer hybrid church services – services which will simultaneously bring together people in the building with people online – but before the leader, UU minister Kimberley Debus, said anything at all about the practicalities, she said the one thing that stuck with me more than anything else I heard in that training. She said (and I’m paraphrasing): each and every one of you has endured going on for 18 months of trauma due to this pandemic and it’s not over yet. You have all been operating in conditions of endless turmoil and uncertainty, in a time of fear, amid pressures to ‘get back to normal’ in all spheres of life, while everyone you know feels somewhat differently about that, there’s no consensus (and that is stressful in itself, as it will frequently raise tension and conflict). And you’ve come here to learn about hybrid services, which are a huge undertaking, when you’ve barely had a chance to catch your breath from everything you’ve had to deal with since 2020. So let yourself off the hook. You don’t have to do anything right this minute. Take the pressure off yourselves. It’s OK.

Now of course, given my job, the particularities of what she said really spoke to my condition. But the general principle applies to each and every one of us: whatever it is we are doing with our life, with our work, with our relationships – for the past eighteen months, we’ve been doing it through a pandemic, I don’t know if you’ve noticed – and most of us likely have a ton of accumulated trauma that we’ve barely begun to process yet. So let’s not minimise or discount the impact of that. Let’s let ourselves, and each other, off the hook, if we need to aim a bit lower, and settle for ‘good enough’ instead of expecting ourselves to excel. This is the humane thing to do; to show ourselves and each other loving-kindness, and to make our everyday choices in that spirit, safe in the knowledge that (as Sarah Bessey put it) we don’t have to be productive and we don’t have to change the world. For we are already so loved. In the days and weeks ahead, may we truly take this message to heart, for the greater good of all. Amen.

Hymn: ‘May I Be Filled with Loving Kindness’ sung by Kensington Unitarians

Our second hymn echoes this message as it is based on the words of the Buddhist Metta prayer: ‘May I be filled with loving kindness’. This is a recording of our own congregation from a few years ago so it’s not quite the most professional of renditions – but we can let ourselves off the hook, eh? – I think it’s rather lovely to hear our own voices. Feel free to sing along or just listen.

May I be filled with loving kindness. May I be well.
May I be filled with loving kindness. May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease. May I be whole.

May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be well.
May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease. May you be whole.

May we be filled with loving kindness. May we be well.
May we be filled with loving kindness. May we be well.
May we be peaceful and at ease. May we be whole.


Just a few brief announcements this morning: Thanks to Hannah for hosting, Antony for reading, and Marilisa for lovely music. And to Jeannene for all her organisational help behind the scenes.

Don’t forget we’ll have virtual coffee-time after the service, to chat in small groups, if you’d like. If that’s not your thing, as I said at the start of the service, do get in touch via email if you’d like to introduce yourself, as it’s harder to get to know people during online services. And if you can bear it we like to take a group photo after the closing music so stick around. We’ll be back next week on Zoom at 10am when Sarah will be here. Do feel free to share the link with your friends.

As ever there are a number of opportunities to connect congregationally in the week ahead: Coffee morning 10.30 Tuesday – always excellent conversation – newcomers always welcome. Heart & Soul, our contemplative spiritual gathering – on ‘Hanging Out with God’ – tonight and Friday at 7pm. Even if you’ve not been before it’s never too late to start. The congregation very much has a life beyond Sunday mornings; we encourage you to keep in touch during the week, drop each other a line, let’s look out for each other as best we can, especially while we’re online.

As you’ll have seen in the Friday email our church committee is actively seeking more helpers to get involved in running the church ‘behind-the-scenes’. There are various ways in which you might be able to contribute according to how much time and energy you have to spare and what your particular skills and interests are. Get in touch with me or John if you would like to have a chat about how you can help this community to thrive in the months and years ahead.

We’ve just got our closing words and music now. So I invite you to select gallery view at this point, if you can, so we can all see each other and get a sense of our gathered community as we close.

Benediction: based on words by Richard S. Gilbert

As we leave this community of the spirit,
May we remember the difficult lesson
That each day offers more things than we can do.

May we do what needs to be done, postpone what does not,
And be at peace with what we can be and do.

Therefore, may we learn to separate
That which matters most, and that which matters least of all.

And in the days to come, may we show loving kindness to ourselves,
and to those we meet along the way,
for the greater good of all. Amen.

Closing Music: ‘Closer to Fine’ performed by Marilisa Valtazanou (3.52)

Jane Blackall

5th September 2021