If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature, even a caterpiller, I would never have to prepare a sermon. So full of God is every creature. Meister Eckhart

Friday, June 02, 2006

A PRAYER FOR THE WORLD

This little prayer was published in Parade magazine several years ago. It's very much in line with what I've been working with this Spring.

Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the skies with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let the sun burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly
so that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness
so that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our
hearts to reach upward to heaven.

Amen

Rabbi Harold S Kushner

A PRAYER FROM THE TREES




Sahalie Falls on the McKenzie River about forty five minutes from Springfield. Sahalie Falls is just above Koosah Falls. Both were named at some point by members of the Chinook tribe.

Found this lovely little prayer in American Indian Healing Arts.
May all I say and all I think
be in harmony with thee,
God within me, God beyond me,
maker of the trees.

In me be the windswept truth of shore pine,
fragrance of balsam and spruce, the grace of hemlock.
In me the truth of Douglas fir, straight, tall,
strong-trunked land hero of fireproof bark.
Sheltering tree of life, decar's truth be mine,
cypress truth, juniper aroma, strength of yew.

May all I say and all I think
be in harmony with thee,
God within me, God beyond me,
maker of the trees.

In me be the truth of stream-lover willow, soil-giving alder,
hazel of sweet nuts, wisdom-branching oak.
In me the joy of crab apple, great maple, vine maple,
cleansing cascara, and lovely dogwood.
And the gracious truth of the copper branched arbutus,
bright with color and fragrance, be with me on the earth.

May all I say and all I think
be in harmony with thee,ranched arbutus,
bright with color and fragrance,be with me on the earth.
God within me, God beyond me,
maker of the trees.
-Chinook prayer

A WORLD FOREST



I didn't really realize how truly rooted I am in the Pacific Northwest until I startedworking my way through Rae Beth's books. She describes a guided imagery exercise for a wildwood mystic. (and it's not too far from the Celtic view of the world) I love the description of the World Tree and I even found avery nice pendant showing a great oak with roots that go as deep as thebranches are tall. Trouble is.......I didn't grow up in the shadows of oaks,maples, or beeches.

Outside of a few trees in the yards around Oakridge, and the two dwarf apple trees in our yard I grew up surrounded by evergreens.And a single evergreen just won't do as an image for a world tree. A world forest? Perhaps. But a single evergreen simply won't survive by itself. Where an oak or maple has a low lying single trunk that branches and branches and branches an evergreen spikes straight up. I've seen a few cedars with a double trunk, maybe a triple but that's it. The branches tend to slope downwards to survive heavy snowfalls and the root system is usually shallower. This makes evergreens vulnerable in ice storms or severewindstorms. The best defense? Grow in huge groves so that each tree is protected by the others. So a world forest as a symbol of faith isn't too far off. Each tree protects the others and any damage to one tree threatens the rest. So instead of one great tree, I find myself picturing a world with a great forest in every part of the globe with the roots reaching for the center. So, where did this come from? As I read her guided imagery exercise my little avatar didn't go looking for an oak or a maple. It made tracks for the tall timber. Some place with tall trees, ferns, deep moss, some deadfall for the mushrooms and lichens to grow on, and some berry bushes. If a waterfall makes an appearance that is a definite bonus

If I can't have a waterfall then a drippy, misty, coastal forest will do very nicely.

So if my little spirit self doesn't head for the Cascades it heads for the coast. Not to the beach, to the great basalt headlands graced with low-lying evergreens shapedby the winds. To that Pacific Ocean that William Clark called the GreatWestern Ocean. When he made the entry he said he wasn't about to call it the Pacific. He hadn't had one pacific (peaceful) day since he laid eyes on it.

And silence. Not the scary, wake up in the middle of the night, where is everybody silence. But the root deep silence of the world before the firstword was spoken. Not a silence where there is no sound. Bird song, wind song and water song are part of that silence. A silence with no background hum. A silence that sings.

ALL THE COLORS OF THE RAINBOW

It's Wednesday and my current mental state is just this side of bombed. Mentally, not chemically. When I get like this, trying to read anything more complicated than "See Spot Run" is almost more than I can manage. The words start running together and head off the page in a little Conga line. But I did manage to make it through this little prayer from the Tewa Pueblo.

O our Mother the Earth,
O our Father the Sky,
Your children are we, and with tired backs
We bring you the gifts you love.
Then weave for us a garment of brightness;
May the warp be the white light of morning,
May the weft be the red light of evening,
May the fringes be the falling rain,
May the border be the standing rainbow.
Then weave for us a garment of brightness
That we may walk fittingly where grass is green,
O our Mother the Earth,
O our Father the Sky!

This is from a book on Native American remedies and healing rituals.

It just hit my how beautiful this image is. Either that, or I'm a little loopier than I realized. Imagine a robe with all the shades of sunrise and sunset, fringed with all the shades of the rain from soft showers to drowning downpours with a border of all the colors of the rainbow. While I'm at it I'd add beads to the fringe. Beads that flash with all the colors of the stars and glow from within with silver of the moon and the gold of the sun. Sweet dreams to one and all,

BLESS THE LORD

Kathleen Norris's marvelous essays in Dakota are periodically separated by weather reports. The one for a February describes a day so cold that you don't dare breath without layers of good wool between your lungs and the air. Weather so cold that spit crackles when it hits the sidewalk. Much to the delight of the kids who keep doing it. She remembered this, but couldn't really remember where it was from.
Cold and chill, bless the Lord.
Dew and rain, bless the Lord.
Frost and chill, bless the Lord.
Ice and snow, bless the Lord.
Nights and days bless the Lord.
Light and darkness, bless the Lord.

I'm not quite sure which way this is going. It works either way. All these elements may be blessing the Creator for making them possible. Or the writer may figure that no matter what the weather is, no matter whether it's day or night, no matter how dark or light it is, rejoice and be glad that you're there to enjoy it.

Blessed be!

LOOKS FAR WOMAN

Mother, teach me how to see
The shining light of stars,
The faces of the Ancestors,
In worlds both near and far.

Show me how to welcome
The visions appearing to me,
Seeing the truth in detail,
Unraveling each mystery.

Walk me through the Dreamtime
Of altered time and space,
That I may share these visions
With every creed and race.

Doorkeeper of all dimensions,
I seek your medicine ways,
Of how to earth my visions,
Seeing truth, inside me, today.

by Jamie Sams

Looks Far Woman is the name Jamie Sams gives to that which helps us to the truth of the visions we receive. She is what stands at the doorway between this world and all the others we can travel to in our dreams or visions. The guide who helps us to return the awareness of our bodies in safety.

HERE I STAND FOR NOW

When Martin Luther was finally pushed to the point where there were no squares on the chessboard to move to he is supposed to have said, “Here I stand. God help me, I can do no other.”

Well, I’m not comparing myself to Martin Luther but I am looking for a place to stand. For a spiritual place to stand where the feminine is respected, where men are comfortable as nurturers, where there is a place for the fellow travelers on this planet to find their voices, where all the earth is considered holy ground, where the evidence of science is not dismissed as a trick of the “devil.”

While Rae Beth uses the term hedge witch in the titles of her books, I prefer her term wild wood mystic. With work it might be fitted into the older Christian traditions of Meister Ekhart and Hildegard of Bingen. I’m not that far yet, I’m still taking baby steps. Whether I can find a way to stay within the traditions I was raised in or if I find myself moving on I would like to be in the words of Rae Beth’s cunning man.

“One who speaks for the tree roots and stones. Who speaks with the tree roots’ and stones’ voices. One who speaks as the grass and rivers. One who speaks as fields and woods and hills and valleys and the salt marshes and waves and tides. Yet who speaks as what is close to home. With the mouse’s voice or the seagull’s or the fox’s or the badger’s. One who speaks in cadences that go beyond the darkness and beyond stars, encompassing what is unmeasurable. One whose entire being vibrates to the spirits’ words in nature, like a reed at dawn in a pool where trout swim.

Is she really channeling the words of a village wise man who lived more than a thousand years ago? I don’t know. I don’t know that she’s not. But, the words and message fill an empty place in my soul. So, I will continue to visit little cottage by hedge, or the medicine lodge, the achorites cell or the thicket by the river. I will read, I will listen and I will see where the path leads me.

WHERE I'M FROM

I am from Douglas fir, hemlock, spruce and cedar.

I am from the Cascades, the Blues, the Siskiyous, and the Wallowas.

I am from clear cuts, choker cables, riggers and log trucks with one log loads.

I am from sandy beaches, basalt cliffs and mudflats.

I am from wild geese calling at sunrise, wrens in the thickets, and great blue herons on the other side of the river.

I am from the little creeks, the mighty Columbia and the Pacific breakers.

I am from tricycles, tetherballs, little sisters with skinned knees and a love for bugs.

I am from the ivy by the patio, the hydrangeas with dinner plate size clumps of blossoms and the garden in the back yard.

I am from a wringer washer, a concrete laundry sink and clothes full of the smell of sunshine.

I am from missionaries, Methodist hymnals and fairy rings.

I am from winter gales, spring showers, sunny summer days and autumn fogs and frosts.

I am from lavender, dogwood, daffodils, daylilies, ivy and blueberries.

I am from rivers with concrete barriers, hydroelectric turbines, anda creek that’s lost its namesake salmon run.

I am from Hanford Reach, the Umatilla Arms depot, and the Columbia Gorge where condors may soar again.

I am from logging towns with no mills, harbors with no fish, and farms being swallowed by urban sprawl.

I am from books, and a flute and feeling out of step on the march to wherever.

I am from feeling like I’m on the outside looking in. I am from seeing what no one else seems to see. I am from hearing what no one else seems to hear.

And Russ, you’re right. I think I’m gonna stop here myself.

THE PRAYERS OF STREAMS AND STONE

Rae Beth writes of one of her familiars, an old cunning man who lived in Britain over a thousand years ago. He speaks to her of prayers. That some prayers are meant to be shared and some are meant to be kept private. That we must know all the prayers of everything around us. Of the wrens, sparrows, or fish. I can understand the idea that a bird or a badger might pray. But a stream or stone? What does water dream of and pray for? Does the water in a tiny brook remember when it was part of a mighty ocean? Does it remember being a snowflake, a glacier, or a tiny drop of rain? Does it remember another tiny rivulet? Flowing from rivulet, to stream, to mighty river and finally to the sea. Of being caught up by the warmth of the sun only to become a raindrop again. Of the endless fall to earth and another stream. What does a stone remember? Does it remember when its atoms were part of the primal lava flows? Does it remember further back when the atoms were formed in the death throes of a super nova? Do the atoms remember their lives in a cliff face being ground down by relentless breakers? Does it remember the endless pressure as the sandstone became rock to be thrust again into daylight or carried down into the heart of the earth to become molten lava once more?Trying to imagine the dreams of a bird or a badger is difficult enough for a human. But, we normally see water or grass or stone as inanimate, unaware. Trying to imagine their dreams or prayers; that is a mystery.

PIECES OF PAPER AND BITS OF STONE

This is why I keep a notebook by the bed. I read something that got me going and my brain wouldn't stop chewing on it like a pup with a nice juicy bone. Now, I can keep rewriting possible journal entries in my head and never get to sleep or I can write it down and hope I can decipher it later.

Ran across an editorial inserted into another journal. Blogger said it came out of Florida but didn’t identify the paper. Anyway it was another of those “love it or leave it” pieces.

There are some things I just don’t understand. And I'm not sure that I want to.

Why does it matter so much if In God We Trust is engraved on our dollar bills or if the Ten Commandments are hung on a public wall? If the words aren't written on your heart the rest doesn't matter. And too many of us make it very clear every day that not all of those commandments were created equal.

Why should it matter so much if someone says Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, or Seasons Greetings. Getting bent out of shape over how you’re greeted in public between the day after Thanksgiving and December 26th is just more noise and distraction. Heck, holiday is another way of saying holy day. And I’m only in my middle fifties, but being around to greet any season is a blessing in my book. Heck, waking up to greet another day with the cats, mom, the yard, my camera and my job is a blessing. Perhaps we should try to greet every day as a holy day and look at every place we stand as holy ground.

I’d love to find out when this writer’s family came over the water. Supposedly one branch of my family settled in the Plymouth Colony. There’s a signer of the Declaration out there somewhere in the wings. Some of the Smiths were in Vermont in the early 1800’s. There were some Kaisers in Iowa by the middle 1800’s. Family lore claims a part Cherokee great great grandmother. I don’t have a name or dates so I’m not going to make an official claim. But if it’s true, then my roots in this land run deeper than most. So, yippee, what have I done with it? What have I done to make this a better place?

Yes, most if not all of the founders were Christians. They were Baptists, Quakers, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Catholics, Lutherans and Deists. Sorry, when someone talks about a Christian” culture, what exactly are they talking about? If it isn’t written on your heart, an act of congress declaring this is a “Christian” nation is just a piece of paper. A very dangerous piece of paper. Too often in the past Christian meant white, Protestant, northern Europeans. If this is officially a “Christian” nation, is there a place at the table for those of us who aren’t?

America, I love you. I love you enough to believe that this isn’t the answer. I love you enough to believe that we can do better. WE CAN DO BETTER. It doesn’t matter what’s written on the papers, on the stones or on the plaques. What matters is what is written in our hearts. Because if it isn’t there…..the rest isn’t worth a damn.

SHE STILL FLIES

Two sets of documentaries produced by Jacques Cousteau have been released on DVD. Cousteau Odyssey and Explorations in the Pacific. They take their place with Attenborough’s Living Planet, Sagan’s Cosmos, and Bronowski’s Ascent of Man as the ultimate in reality TV. I admit I have to admire the ad folks skill in packaging programs that are basically staged and convincing us that it’s “real.” But, hey there are centuries of precedent to draw from. After all, the oral and written traditions that came out of the Middle East have been packaged and sold to convince us that they contain the only “truth” about anything and everything.

At least the Hindus understand that there is one Truth with many faces and you worship the representation of God/dess that you are closest to. This doesn’t mean that Hinduism got it all right. Just this one piece of the puzzle. There’s still enough prejudice and discrimination to go around. Mix radical Hindus and radical Muslims, both pushing each other’s buttons with demonic precision, and the results can be and often are explosive. I really don’t know where some the radical Creationists got the idea that the Adversary has time to fake geological evidence supporting an ancient Cosmos. He’s got too many other fish to fry. To many shoulders to sit on whispering “be afraid, stay afraid, you’ll be safer that way.”

I hauled out Joseph Campbell’s Mythos this weekend. One statement from the series has always stuck with me. That Yahweh’s biggest mistake was believing that he was God. Not the best understanding of one group of people had of one face of God but IT, the ULTIMATE, the only GOD. And we’ve been sold this bill of goods ever since to keep the existing power structure in place.

The radical message of love, respect and the Oneness with the true God/dess was co-opted, caged, and made to serve the powers of this world. When you realize the power structures in the world Jesus was born into you understand just how radical the message he brought was. In a world of patronage, slavery and oppression he dared to say that chains could be broken. That the Creator/ress what everywhere, in everything and everyone. That spirits could soar and sing. It wasn’t a question of whether the newest prophet of the truth behind all the masks would be silenced, but how and when. It didn’t take long the clip the spirit’s wings; mute the song and tuck it safely back in its cage.

Funny thing about cages though. The wings grow back, the door gets pried open and every so often the spirit slips out and takes wing. No matter how many fingers the little Dutch boys from the Vatican, Mecca, the various synods and other power groups keep sticking in their cracking dikes; she soars and sings.

(This got written on a very early break at work. Sometimes the words just have to come out. As if I’ll break into a million pieces if they don’t aren’t released. And it has to be done NOW. If I wait the ideas will still be there, but the words won’t be the same. Pale reflections. So I’ll just take a short lunch and do a little off the clock.) J And oddly enough this is not where I expected to end up when I started this little number. God/dess you and I are going to have a little talk about when you decide to move the fingers. These was supposed to be a paragraph of notes, not an essay. But, then I guess my idea of time and Your idea of time is on a little different scale.

YOU WHO WOULD BE WISE

Ran across this poem in a book called EARTH MEDICINE. In Native American teaching the word medicine refers to wisdom. So wisdom from the earth.
LOOK TO THE EARTH

Look to the Earth
And to the Skies
The Sun, the Moon, and to the stars
You who would be wise.
For they contain the full measure of man
The height, the breadth, the depth, the span
Of his entirety.

Look to the Earth
And to the Skies
And watch them turn
Like pages of a holy book
But one untouched by human hand.
You who would be wise.

Look to Earth
And to the Skies
For in that which can be seen Without
Can true knowledge come
Of unseen mysteries that lie Within
To you who would be wise.

Look to the Earth
And to the Skies
Spring and Summer,
Winter and in the Fall.
Watch life begin, unfold, then fade and die
To rise anew
Time and again for Time Untold
You who would be wise.

Look to the Earth
and to the Skies
And in your looking, learn this mystery
That you who look to the Earth
And to the Skies
Shall be given eyes to see
Shall be given eyes
To make you wise
Eternally.

by Kenneth Meadows

KINDLING THE FLAME

We kindle this flame in honor of the Creator of Creation. We are grateful for the plenty that blesses us. In a world where many walk hand in hand with hunger we have abundance. In a world where too many walk in fear we can speak as our hearts lead us and show our faith freely. In a world where too many are alone, even in a crowd, we are rich in family and friends.

We kindle this flame in honor of the earth and the star that warms it. We kindle this flame in gratitude for the changing seasons, for the coolness of rain, for the shifting mists and warmth of sun. We kindle this flame to ask healing for our battered world. May we learn to use only what we need and to respect what we use. We kindle this flame in gratitude for the plants, animals, air and waters that sustain us. Their infinite variety is wondrous.

We kindle this flame in honor of all who share this little world with us. We kindle this flame in gratitude for our fellow travelers. We kindle this flame in gratitude for birdsong, the glory of infinite colors of flowers and trees, for the seas, the rivers, the rolling hills and the soaring peaks.

We kindle this flame to honor the infinite variety of our brothers and sisters. We kindle this flame to ask for healing for those who lash out in fear. We kindle this flame to ask for healing for those who lash out in anger. We kindle this flame to ask healing for those who lash out in ignorance. We kindle this flame to ask for healing for those who are ill in body or spirit. We kindle this flame to ask for healing for their caregivers, family and friends. We kindle this flame in honor of the river of faith. Help us to remember that many streams enter the river of faith that sustains us. Help us to remember that this river has many wells to refresh our thirsty spirits.

We kindle this flame in honor of our family and friends. We kindle this flame in gratitude for their love and support. We kindle this flame to ask for healing for any sickness or injury. We kindle this flame to ask that they may find the love and support to live the lives they were meant to. We kindle this flame in faith that we can return the love and support that has been so freely given to us.