Thursday, May 14, 2020

A Way Forward

“These uncertain times.” “These unprecedented times.” As a person who loves a map, a plan, being in uncharted territory can make me feel anxious, afraid, uncertain. Our maps just can’t keep up with the changing terrain. The answer to almost every question is “We don’t know, We’ve never done this before.” And while the models scientists are sharing with us have some important information we can use to make decisions, any decision we make will be imperfect. Nothing is certain. We are all explorers now, willing or not.

When traveling without a map, explorers use a compass. A compass helps us head in the right direction even when we are turned around. Our Values and principles provide that sort of direction. Unitarian Universalists have a handy list of 7 principles we affirm and promote , but each of us has an inner compass we follow without having to consult a list. Why did we stay home, those of us who are sheltering at home? How did we know it was the right thing to do? We heeded the “guidance of reason and the results of science”, whether or not we remembered that was one of our Unitarian Universalist sources. Because we value “Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations” we have made real sacrifices these past 8 weeks; we haven’t visited the loved ones we miss so much, important events we were looking forward to have been canceled. Those who continue to go to work put themselves at risk for the same common good that keeps the rest of us at home. We left the map of life as usual, following the inner compass that points our way forward one step at a time in the direction of caring, and supporting one another.

We are all creating a new map right now inch by inch. As the old structures unravel or fall apart, everything we do is co-creating our shared future. Even while we are grieving real losses, something new is emerging.

Poet Jan Richardson captured something of these times in her poem called “Blessing for a Broken Vessel
“…I am not asking you
to give up your grip
on the shards you clasp
so close to you

but to wonder
what it would be like
for those jagged edges
to meet each other
in some new pattern
that you have never imagined
that you have never dared
to dream”
We have already begun to adapt to this strange new way of life. We have been worshiping online together now for what seems like forever but is only 8 weeks, and though we miss being in a room together, cooking for each other, hugging each other, some of our beloved friends from South Carolina or Florida or California have already begun to ask, “could we keep zooming-in when worship goes back to normal?” What a great idea! Now that we’ve had to learn how to do it, why not make worship accessible to folks far away, or folks quarantined at home or in an assisted living home? I’m sure you can think of other new patterns, new creative life-giving adaptations that we could bring with us on our journey not only through this pandemic, but into the new normal that will follow.

As we let our compass--inner wisdom, our values and our caring-- guide us a new pattern emerges. Even as the landscape seems to change under our feet, we are already creating the new patterns that will shape our future. As individuals, as congregations the things we do may ripple out to create patterns of love and care beyond what we can even see or imagine.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

A Little Beltane Ritual

May 1 is the cross-quarter, halfway between Spring equinox and summer solstice. In our part of the world at this time we see signs of growth returning to the natural world, and gardeners are thinking
Photo credit Katie Replogle
about seeds. Depending on how risk tolerant they are, depending on whether you live on a hill or in a valley, some Gardeners are putting their seeds and their seedlings in the ground this weekend, others will wait until later in May.

For those of us who are not gardeners, still the cycles of nature are wonderful symbols of the cycles of the spirit. For our spirits this has been a long tough winter, and a long tough spring. And it is starting to seem like summer is not going to be quite what we imagined. There are a lot of things we can’t control right now, so it’s especially important to focus our attention on the places in our lives where we are changing and growing. Look out the window and notice that while much of human endeavor is “on a pause” the natural world is growing greener each day. Those of you with lawns to mow it might seem like too much green growth.

So let’s take some time this morning to think which seeds of intention we want to plant this year. What would you like to see grow in your life in the coming months? Are there relationships you’d like to grow? Are there qualities in yourself you’d like to grow? Would you like to grow in advocacy for others? Are there things you’d like to learn?

As you come up with an intention, you might want to make that intention more concrete for yourself by finding a seed you'd like to plant.  Hold your seed and imagine that intention filling that seed. If you don't have a seed, you can write your intention on a scrap of paper.

I encourage you to plant that seed in a pot or patch of earth, or put your scrap of paper in the earth, remembering your intention as you do. Hold your hands on the dirt for a moment, and ask the earth to hold and support the growth of your intention. Offer a personal prayer of gratitude.

Blessings for a fertile and abundant growing season, for you and for the earth.