We gather together this morning as best we can
to restore our courage as we face the world as it is.
In one another’s company our convictions and faith are renewed.
We are more when we are together:
wiser, more resilient and more able.
Prelude: Equestrian Dream by Philip Wesley, performed by Anna Kojovic-Frodl
We light our chalice this morning to these words adapted from those by Susan Karlson:
Welcome to all this morning.
We enter into this half circle of diversity,
Celebrating the ways that we walking, rolling, strolling two-legged wanderers share
With the four-leggeds. lounging, lunging and leaping among us,
With Winged warblers,
With slithering, sliding snaky beings,
With circling cavorters in a watery world, and
With those who carry their house on their backs.
We look so different, moving according to the way we were made.
Yet look at us here in this circle,
We are part of one family sharing one planet.
May our celebration bring us into a deeper relationship
Remembering we all have common needs
For safety, care and respect.
Welcome to all who have gathered here today.
Hymn: #298 Wake Now My Senses, v 1, 3 & 5, performed by Diana Pavao, Vern Petersen, Anna Kojovic-Frodl
Message For All Ages: “This Moose Belongs To Me” by Oliver Jeffers
Centering Words: “A Prayer for Animal Friends” by Kim Crawford Harvie
Great spirit of life,
We pray today for our animal friends,
Grateful for their companionship and devotion. By our kindness to them,
May we be worthy of their love.
We pray also for pets who are gone from us, But who brighten our days
And who comforted us by night.
We pray for animals unknown to us
Who are suffering,
For many that are hunted or deserted or tortured. We ask for them pity and mercy.
And for those who handle them
We ask a heart of compassion, gentle hands, and kind words.
Help us to be true friends to the animals
And love them and keep them and bless them All the days of our lives.
Time of Stillness and Reflection:
Reading: “When Your Best Friend Has Four or So Legs”, by Teresa Soto
What it means to have a pet is to love someone who speaks a language you do not. A dog will bow and prance, a cat will purr and blink. A guinea pig will giggle and squeak. A long time ago a friend of mine had a dog with soft ears, and considered herself the pup’ s guardian. A gentle way to think of protecting and caring for a friend, such a small gesture of respect for a source of boundless love. The dog’s long pink tongue lolling in a goofy grin. The cat convinced that kneading and grooming are crucial to this day. A bird asking for a treat, bending a wing to wave. These are friends. They are loves. It’s kind of a surprise that you should love someone so much who would eat the butter on the table if they could get away with it, and gets endless hair on the sofa when they aren’t even supposed to be on the furniture. When they are called companion animals, it’s such an open, tender truth. The endless cuddles and tricks and loyalty. The comfort of fingers to fur and big, adoring eyes. These are friends. They are loves. They stretch our hearts and fill them with their abundance of kindness. When they are gone, our hearts remain larger, though their absence leaves room for expanses of grief. Their love champions and companions us still.
Reflection: “All Creatures, Even Us” by Rev. Eric Meter
Good morning and welcome to OBUUC’s biennial (is that the right word?) animal blessing.
Let me say right off that my approach to animal blessings is inspired by, at least in part by Rev. Tracy Sprowls-Jenks.
We take time once again to have a ceremony to give thanks and bless our companions in life — cats and dogs, birds and chickens, turtles and fish and so many more! This ceremony also acknowledges that our lives are made fuller and richer by the creatures that inhabit the Earth with us, not just those that live with us.
Animal blessings have origins in both the Jewish and Catholic faith traditions; however, many Unitarian Universalist congregations have adopted this practice and have made it a uniquely UU type of blessing. Our seventh principle states that we are all a part of an interconnected web of existence, and this is the underlying motivation for many of these services.
I remember a colleague once saying, in a moment of exhaustion and cynicism, Web of all existence? What are we supposed to be praying to, grandmother spider? Well, maybe. Many pray to worse.
Before we continue, let’s expand the understanding of the word blessing. A blessing is an expression of gratitude or a wish for happiness for a person or animal. It is for this purpose that we come together today, to acknowledge how our lives have been blessed by our animal friends and to express our happiness and gratitude that they make this so.
This morning we will also take time to remember the beloved animal companions who are no longer with us.
If your animals are wrangle-able, please bring them forward. If you only have a photo to share, bring that so that others can see.
I’d like to begin by introducing you to Ford, at least as well as I can. Ford is no longer with us. He was my wife Ann’s dog and he saw her through her divorce from her first marriage.
When I first met Ford, he was a 2- year old barely contained package of energy. He came that close to jumping through the screen of a second floor window in order to chase after a car driving by outside.
While at first, I thought he was a crazy beast, he quickly found a way into my heart.
Ann and I still have our Schnauzer Sammie, and our husky mutt Bowie, and we love them both ferociously, but we think of Ford every day.
When we had to put him down back in February, we knew that walking out of the vet’s office would be the hardest part, and it was. But then the woman who left the office just a bit before us turned around and came back to us. She asked if she could give us a hug and say a prayer. Her prayer was not in a form that matched our practices, but the underlying theology was universal and entirely welcome. I’m still grateful for that expression of care and over-arching love. That woman, a stranger to us, helped both Ann and I re-enter the world.
That’s Ford. Who have you brought forward to be recognized and blessed this morning?
[ Name of animal ],
may you live a long, happy, and blessed life
– may there be food in your belly, a warm place to sleep
and joy in your days.
The Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church is a community of generosity and abundance.
Especially now, in this challenging and anxious time, your generosity is what keeps this community as vital as it is.
Our offertory outreach partner for October is the United Way of Racine County’s Covid Relief Fund. The fund was established earlier this year to meet the unexpected and immediate needs of those nearby effected by this global pandemic.
Offertory Music: “Butterfly” by Frederick Bernard, performed by Anna Kojovic-Frodl
Hymn: “All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir” by Bill Staines, performed by Annie and Peter Blood-Patterson
Chorus: All God’s critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
And some just clap their hands, or paws or anything they got now
Benediction: by Gary Kowalski
We give thanks for the animals
Who live close to nature,
Who remind us of the sanctities of birth and death,
Who do not trouble their lives with foreboding or grief,
Who let go each moment as it passes,
And accept each new one as it comes
With serenity and grace.
Enable us to walk in beauty as they do
At one with the turning seasons,
Welcoming the sunrise and at peace with sunset.
And as we hallow the memory of good friends now departed,
Who loved abundantly and in their time were loved,
Who freely gave us their affection and loyalty,
Let us not be anxious for tomorrow
But ask only that kindness and gratitude fill our hearts,
Day by day, into the passing years.
Postlude: “Alley Cat” by Frank Bjorn, performed by Anna Kojovic-Frodl