We gather together this morning as best we can to restore both our sense of commitment as we face the world as it is and inspiration to act in ways large and small that will foster better days for all. We are more when we are together: wiser, more resilient and more able.
Prelude Whose Garden Was This by Tom Paxton, Diana Pavao
We light our chalice to these words of welcome from Angela Herrera:
Don’t leave your broken heart at the door;
Bring it to the altar of life.
Don’t leave your anger behind:
it has high standards and the world needs its vision.
Bring them with you, and your joy and your passion.
Bring your loving, and your courage and your conviction.
Bring your need for healing, and your powers to heal.
There is work to do
And you have all you need to do it
right here in [ as we have gathered together ].
Come, let us worship, together.
Our chalice is lit.
Hymn Gather the Spirit OBUUC Choir
Time for All Ages
Centering Words Gitanjali 69 by Rabindranath Tagore
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It is the same life that shoots in joy
through the numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
It is the same life that is rocked
In the ocean cradle of birth and death, In ebb and flow.
I feel my limbs are made glorious
by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.
Time of Stillness and Reflection
First Reading Earth Teach Me from the Ute people
Earth teach me stillness
as the grasses are stilled with light.
Earth teach me suffering
as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility
as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth Teach me caring
as the mother who secures her young.
Earth teach me courage
as the tree which stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation
as the ant which crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom
as the eagle which soars in the sky.
Earth teach me resignation
as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth teach me regeneration
as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness
as dry fields weep in the rain.
Second Reading Everything is Human by Alice Walker
Some years ago a friend and I walked out into the countryside to listen to what the Earth was saying, and to better hear our own thoughts. We had prepared ourselves to experience what in the old days would have been called a vision, and what today probably has no name that is not found somewhat amusing by many. Because there is no longer countryside that is not owned by someone, we stopped at the entrance to a large park, many miles from the city. By the time we had walked a hundred yards, I felt I could go no farther and lay down where I was, across the path in a grove of trees. For several hours I lay there, and other people entering the park had to walk around me. But I was hardly aware of them. I was in intense dialogue with the trees.
As I was lying there, really across their feet, I felt or “heard” with my feelings the distant request from them that I remove myself. But these are not feet, I thought, peering at them closely, but roots. Roots do not tell you to go away.
Looking at their feet, or roots – which struck up all over the ground and directly beneath my cheek – I saw that the ground from which they emerged was gray and dead-looking, as if it were poisoned. Aha, I thought, this is obviously a place where chemicals were dumped. The soil has been poisoned, the trees afflicted, and they do not like it. I hastily communicated this deduction to the trees and asked that they understand it was not I who had done this. I just moved to this part of the country, I said. But they were not appeased. Get up. Go away, they replied. But I refused to move. Nor could I. I needed to make them aware of my innocence.
I love trees, I said.
Human, please, they replied.
But I do not cut you down in the prime of life. I do not haul your mutilated and stripped bodies shamelessly down the highway. It is the lumber companies, I said.
Just go away, said the trees.
All my life you have meant a lot to me, I said. I love your grace, your dignity, your serenity, your generosity….
Well, said the trees, before I finally finished [my] list, we find you without grace, without dignity, without serenity, and there is no generosity in you either, just ask any tree. You butcher us, you burn us, you grow us only to destroy us. That we are alive and have feelings means nothing to you.
But I, as an individual, am innocent, I said. Though it did occur to me that I live in a wood house, I eat on a wood table, I sleep on a wood bed.
Finally, after much discourse, I understood what the trees were telling me: Being an individual doesn’t matter. Just as human beings perceive all the trees as one, all human begins, to the trees, are one. The Earth holds us responsible for our crimes against it, not as individuals, but as a species – this was the message of the trees. I found it a terrifying thought. For I had assumed that the Earth, the spirit of the Earth, noticed exceptions – those who wantonly damage it and those who do not. But the earth is wise. It has given itself into the keeping of all, and all are therefore accountable.
Reflection Earth Day by Rev. Eric Meter
The Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church is a community of generosity and abundance.
Especially now, in this challenging time, your generosity is what keeps this community as vital as it is, a beacon of respectful engagement and faith in the power of love.
Each month we share the generosity of our collection with a local partner. This month our partner is Racine’s Cops ‘N Kids Reading Center, founded by Racine Police Department veteran Julia Witherspoon. The Reading Center offers a One–on–One Tutoring based on the needs of each student.
Please join me in being as generous as you can. Together, our support will mean a brighter future for all the children and youth at the Cops ‘N Kids Reading Center.
Offertory Music Charlesworth Bay by Judy Small, Diana Pava
Benediction Tomorrow’s Child by Ruben Alves
…So let us plant dates
even though we who plant them will never eat them.
We must live by the love of what we will never see.
That is the secret discipline.
It is the refusal to let our creative act
be dissolved away by our need for immediate sense experience and it a struggled commitment to the future of our grandchildren…
extinguish the chalice flame
This morning’s chalice is extinguished, but our connections and faith remain.
Postlude Garden Song by David Mallett, Diana Pavao