Call to Worship
As we gather, separated physically but united by heart, the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. As Mary Oliver says, whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination. Let us look through the windows of our homes to the greater world outside, and feel comfort at where we are. Come, join in worship, imagining how our greater beloved community is united by bonds that no physical barriers can separate.
Kindling of the Chalice Flame
If you have a chalice, light it as you say these words:
Spirit of Life and Love, we light this chalice as so many others have done before us, as so many are doing now, as so many from our beloved community will in the upcoming days. This light, though it be small and delicate, shines out through the windows of our homes and illuminates the faces of our loved ones, even from afar, just as the light from far-flung chalices embraces us. We light this chalice to warm us against panic, to strengthen our resilience, and to spread our love.
Hymn (family sing-a-long)
Home. For many of us the romanticized vision of “home” might be different than the realities of staying at home. Perhaps, even though we are spending more time in our houses, we long for the safety that the idealized notion of “home” gives us. What does “home” mean to you? How has that changed over the past few days? Click the link below to listen to a familiar favorite. Sing along!
“Our House” by Graham Nash, performed live by Crosby, Stills & Nash
Message for All Ages “Home is a Window” by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard
Reading “A Poem About the Beauty of Home”
Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet from Ireland. In his podcast, Poetry Unbound, he reads some of his favorite selections, imbuing them with personal meaning and gravity. In this selection, he reads a poem from Patrick Kavanagh called “The One,” an ode to spring in Kavanagh’s homeland. Spring is here in southeastern Wisconsin, and we find ourselves in our homes perhaps more than usual. What are ways in which we can appreciate spring’s arrival from our homes? Listen to the poetry reading here.
“The One” by Patrick Kavanagh
Green, blue, yellow and red-
God is down in the swamps and marshes
Sensational as April and almost incred-
ible the flowering of our catharsis.
A humble scene in a backward place
Where no one important ever looked
The raving flowers looked up in the face
Of the One and the Endless, the Mind that has baulked
The profoundest of mortals. A primrose, a violet,
A violent wild iris- but mostly anonymous performers
Yet an important occasion as the Muse at her toilet
Prepared to inform the local farmers
That beautiful, beautiful, beautiful God
Was breathing His love by a cut-away bog.
In these moments of anxiety, we must pay attention to our breath and our posture. Our bodies have a way of holding in times of stress, and it’s important to give those muscles a break. Take a few moments to sit upright with your back extended tall, shoulders back, diaphragm open. If you’ve been in one position for a while, perhaps it is time to stretch before you engage in this simple singing meditation. If you wish, pay attention to your breath using the following hymn. Click below to hear “Meditation on Breathing.”
“Meditation on Breathing”
Reflection “Home is a Window” by Omega
In the past few weeks (has it been weeks already?), I have found myself more intimately acquainted with my house than I have been in recent years. That’s not to say I don’t normally pay attention to the upkeep of my home, but this period of prolonged home-time combined with higher anxiety has made me very aware of my sense of place. I have noticed things about my home and my neighborhood that I haven’t noticed before, like how the light streams in my dining room-turned-office window at a particular time of day now that we have entered early spring. There are also less poetic things I have noticed about my home, too. For example, having all of my family here, all day, every day, means constant and unrelenting dishes in the sink. And yet, I am thankful for the privilege of plenty of food and a family to surround me. I realize that it’s not the case for many.
The concept of “home” means something different to everyone. For some, the idealized notion of being at home doesn’t match with the reality of their home life. Not everyone has food security, or lives in a safe home. These prolonged periods enclosed may produce a kind of anxiety that is entirely different to that which the global pandemic is causing. For those folks, I pray. For those folks in our community and congregation, I urge them to reach out for help. Staying at home shouldn’t mean staying unsafe.
For others who don’t leave their homes frequently under different circumstances, perhaps this situation of “sheltering in place” doesn’t seem particularly remarkable. However, it is hard to miss the anxious tones that enter our homes through newspapers, social media, and television these recent days. For those folks, I pray that we, as a community, continue to reach out by phone and by letter, making sure that needs are met during this chaotic time.
For those of us working from home with small children or loved ones for whom we care, I offer a prayer, too. It is indeed grueling and mentally taxing, trying to accomplish a seemingly mundane task or email when you feel that you should be spending time with your children or loved ones. I read on social media recently the following quote, “You are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work.” This has helped me re-frame what is important during this time. This doesn’t make it easier, necessarily, but it helped me remember that these are uncertain times, and my first priority is the care of my family and myself.
For those of you still working out in our communities, our first responders and other essential workers, we pray. You are doing the hard work of keeping all of us safe, and we are grateful for your health and resilience. May your anxiety be eased by being at home, and may you be able to rest and recover when this moment has passed.
There are others for whom this time seems like it should be a great opportunity for being productive. Finally, time to clean out that closet. Finally, time to start exercising and doing yoga. Finally, a little time to dedicate to learning an instrument, perfecting a sourdough recipe, catching up on the laundry, fixing the gutters, training the dog to fetch the new Frisbee, reading that stack of books in the corner, painting the hallway. Finally. Finally. Until, suddenly, we are over-stressed by the insurmountable tasks we think have built up because of lack of time. What if we’ve just made other priorities instead, and that’s OK? What if we use this time to rest, and to heal, and to connect with ourselves and others in slower and less immediate ways? Being productive during this time is not a requirement. You will not be tested, when we finally come through this.
There have been moments of beauty, too, in all of this anxiety. What have you noticed from your home? The birds are returning to my yard, and a few nests are being built in the eaves of my south-facing exteriors. I hear them, especially loud during the early morning hours when, normally, their sound might be drowned out by rush hour traffic. My grass is greener by the day. Muddier, true, but greener. I feel very physically far from some of my friends (I am an extrovert, this may not come as a surprise to some of you) and yet, we have found new ways to connect. Some of you have bridged physical distances from your homes to members of your beloved communities through Zoom, or Facetime. Those little windows of smiling faces on the screen are a blessing to many of us. Truly, a window from our home into the lives of our loved ones. Some people are cooking together, or reading sonnets, or listening to concerts, all from the comfort of their homes. Choirs are rehearsing on balconies in cities, and by videoconference in Racine. Art is being shared, cookies are being baked. People are saying, “I love you. I miss you. I can’t wait to see you.”
Let us pray that we don’t forget those lessons, too. After the social distancing, after the sheltering in place, after the threat of illness is gone, let us remember to tell each other that we love one another. We are waves on the same sea. We are interconnected.
There is a beautiful poem that has been making the rounds on social media, “And the People Stayed Home” by Kitty O’Meara, a poet from here in Wisconsin. We may have heard it here in our circles, and it merits some repetition for its beautiful simplicity.
And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested,
and exercised, and made art, and played games,
and learned new ways of being,
and were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless,
and heartless ways,
the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed,
and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices,
and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully,
as they had been healed.
May it be so that we join together again in the future, and that we don’t let the lessons of staying at home flitter away. Let us remember to tell each other that we love one another. May we remember to slow down, to be healthy, to appreciate how the sun is changing angles in the sky. May we learn that resilience is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be time for fixing up our homes or learning to make bread or fixing a leaky gutter. Maybe now is the time to look through our windows at the greening grass, anticipating what it will feel like with our shoes off later this summer. Soon, it will be time to open those windows, but not quite yet.
Joys and Sorrows
As is our custom, we will share Joys and Sorrows during our Sunday 10 a.m. worship time. This week, we will experiment with splitting into smaller, more intimate groups in “breakout rooms.” Omega will give you instructions for how to join those when it is time.
Closing song to Extinguish the Chalice
These times are poignant, the winds have shifted. It’s all we can do to stay uplifted. Extinguish the flame of your chalice now, knowing that its brave light mimics the light in your heart. Be resilient. Find small gifts that being at home can give. Let the light of our chalices warm us until we meet again. Blessed be. Amen.
“Resilient” by Rising Appalachia