"A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives." (Wendell Barry) Today is the official International Earth Day! What a joy to know that care and reverence for the creation/ecological responsibility, is a world -wide value! Though our own political structure has been painfully slow in recognizing this, and even slower (if not backward the past 30 years) to act on this truth, more and more of we the people are doing more and more to clean up our own back yards and consumption habits while insisting that policies to protect the earth and its people get more traction. Devote a moment to simply stretching your limbs in the fresh air today, thinking fondly of the worldwide movement to save the earth and sustain its miraculous resources. For all God's gifts, give thanks today.
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- "The Earth is the Lord's and All that Dwell Within" (I Corinthians) For centuries the Christian community has called Christ our morning star, the light of the world. Christians at their best have been referred to as 'children of the light'. On Earth Day and every other day our Native American relatives offer prayers with similar reverence: 'Blessed be God in the East, the first light,... the way of the Eagle and God's helpers.' How might you be God's helper this Earth Day? First off give thanks for everything! Next, enjoy the fruits of nature with care. Third, remember, 'Nature is party to all of our deals and decisions, and she has more votes and a longer memory.' (Wendell Barry) Be a child of the Light today, Earth Day.
- "With awe-filled wonder we sing praise with all creation: tree and bush, flower and plant, animals of the air, the land and the waters." The prayers cited the past two weeks have all been about encouraging the human spirit to connect more deeply with the natural order, God's creation, as a way to better connect with God. We are God's caretakers. All the resources in the world are given us to use carefully, not to exploit until we use everything up. Psalm 51 asks God to 'sustain us with a bountiful spirit'. Sustainability is a key word, the meaning of which points to ongoing, long term, perpetual well- being. Try treating the natural realm the way we ask God to care for us, long term, in perpetuity. It may make a difference in what you drive, what you eat, whose party platform you will support, whether you will recycle, (I am told that barely half of us in this part of N.H. recycle ... We can do better.)
- "O God, your gifts ride on the springtime air, carried aloft upon the wind, filling field and forest, city and town, with incense of gladness." First thing in the morning the cardinals, robins, and red wing blackbirds are singing their songs right in our back yards in New Hampshire! Have you stuck your face out the back door or opened a morning window yet? It's worth it. Greeting your day by forming your perspective based on the song of creation within earshot is a wonderful way to get off on the right foot. Blessings are indeed carried aloft upon the wind these April mornings. Take them in and,"Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you."(Wendell Barry)
- I recently ran across this quote "I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift." Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life I dearly love the idea of God's belly laugh. It's easy to forget to live the life we have. We often find ourselves drowning in the demands and minutia of our lives. Our kids can find that too. My youngest is now in 7th grade and the demands are crazy. I've watched him getting up at 6am and working constantly until bedtime, no time for play, no time to wind down, barely time to eat or breath. Small wonder he has had a tough year. We all need space in our lives to sing out loud, to dawdle, to waste time, to paint your chair green, to love our gift of life. So my question to you is, how do you enjoy the gift of life you have been given? How do you give your children the time to enjoy it as well. Do something today that is not productive or useful. Do something for pure joy.
- "Holy God, creator of all, I rejoice in the gift of ever-growing light as the earth in this season leans closer to our daystar." An important aspect of developing a healthy, faithful, ecologically grounded spirituality involves the intentional rejection of violence. What happened in Boston just a few days ago is a reflection of someone or some group that has lost or forsaken the connection to life, to God, to good. Such people wind up slaves to violence in varying degrees. Though we may feel anger, and even rage, well up once sadness and shock fade, it is important that we not give in to the temptation to return violence with more violence of our own. A healthy spiritual connection with creation and our Creator will help you move through the toxic field of anger and vengeance toward a path called civility where rule of law will bring those responsible to justice while upholding your human right to pursue wholeness. The best way to honor the lives of the innocent victims and to thwart the efforts of violent is to do your part to build a safer world for all God's people and creatures while praying for God to shed light on darkened hearts. Did you notice the daffodil explosion in these parts the last days? Let that make your news too.
- Tuesday, April 16 - "We pray for the just and proper use of God's creation." (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer page 392) Just and proper are words to think about today as you go about your business. How will you utilize God's creation today at home? at work? in school? Will you make an effort to recycle? Perhaps a ceramic or paper cup could be used instead of another plastic bottle? Do you know that better filtration measures go into your tap water than are required for bottled water? In church we usually associate stewardship with pledge drives and Sunday offerings of monetary resources to support our ministries and outreach. Stewardship also applies to how we utilize the natural resources that God has provided. Just and proper.
- "Give us all a reverence for the earth as God's own creation, that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to God's honor and glory." (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer page 388) Wake up these spring New Hampshire mornings and, after first thanking God for the new day, get thee to your back door, look out, and breath in the air of spring. These mornings are gifts to us. They spring up like the brave little crocuses that are leading the parade of freshness unfolding before your eyes in the days and weeks to come. Quoting Yogi Bera, 'You can observe a lot by watching.' (Hey, it's baseball season too!) Start your day off by watching God's handiwork with a reverence for the earth. Earth Day is coming up in a this week.
- "Happy Sunday!" 'O ye children of humankind, bless ye the Lord' (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer page 48) Just one more week until Earth Day observances the world over. Our Native American relatives are especially in touch with the spirituality that honors the creation and its creatures on a regular, not just annual, basis. St. Matthew's will tap into some of that wonderful spirit on the 21st at worship and then invite those of you so willing to stay after for a roadside and church grounds clean up. This Sunday the 14th, children will worship with the adults at 10 am. What a treat for them and the older folk to stand and pray and sing together as children of God. Most adults do not recognize it, but the children of your church recognize you, look up to you, and thrive on just a kind word and your recognition of them. 'O ye children of humankind, bless ye the Lord.'
- "O all ye whales, and all that move in the waters, bless ye the Lord." (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer page 48) Water is the basis of our lives. Water was and is our womb, our life bearer. Eve's name means life bearer too. You and I started out there, in the water. We are kin to the whales and the fishes. We are intimately connected to every living thing. Many a yoga teacher will end a session with a cool down moment or two when everyone is asked to close their eyes, see the whole inhabited earth with all its creatures, and simply send a thought of compassion and appreciation and a prayer of blessing to each and to all. Today consider where you started, water baby. Then find a moment to send your thoughts of compassion and appreciation, along with a prayer of blessing to each and all.