Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Every Grain of Sand (Bob Dylan)

Happy Earth Day!

I facilitated our UU church service this past Sunday, on the topic of our seventh principle: the interdependent web of life - below are excerpts from the sermon:

Springtime – the season of rebirth – is the perfect time to Celebrate Earth Sunday as humans have celebrated the bounty of Earth since ancient times. Everything we need for life comes from this Earth. There is no other source. So on this special occasion, let us “celebrate the web of life . . . seeing the divinity in every living thing.”

Attending to our relationship with Earth, and our responsibility for its care is crucial in this time as Earth suffers under the burden of careless human activities. And in gratitude for the beauty and bounty of this precious planet, let us also commit ourselves to “protect the lives of all that share the glory of the Earth.”

If we pay attention, the Earth will teach us gratitude instead of grasping, simple joy instead of compulsive consumption, openness to life instead of a driven (and fruitless) attempt to control everything. Thoughtlessness needs to give way to awareness, arrogance to compassion, addiction to balanced calm. A deep and abiding connection with nature can be that antidote to the compulsiveness and stresses of a life spent chasing the materialism of our post-modern American Dream.

As Unitarian Universalists, we profess to believe in the interdependent web – the unity of all existence. And we acknowledge that we are a part of it. Not outside of it. Not separate from it. And not subject to a different set of rules, or consequences. The evidence for its Truth is found in science, and also art and spirituality. We feel the interdependence in our relationships with each other, and our relationships with non-human creatures, and specific places. Our consciousness of these connections has to influence the way we live. How can we allow ourselves to use more of the Earth’s gifts than we need, knowing that our grandchildren and future generations will not have what they need for survival? How can we let our greed get in the way of our relationships?

We Americans suffer from a “Gratitude Deficit Disorder” – we keep trying to make ourselves happy through more stuff, but it never works, so we have to grab for even more stuff. It’s a never ending escalation, this addiction to stuff. We must break the cycle, remembering that happiness comes from relationships, connections, satisfaction of worthwhile endeavors.

[ Here... two long-time members at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft. Lauderdale shared their own personal experiences and relationship with the Earth. ]

In the final analysis, to love the Earth is to participate in the circles of life with respect and compassion. It is to live, work, and play in communities... communities that celebrate our interconnectedness and strengthen our ties... with one another, with the land, and with all of nature. We must deepen our sense of place, and take time to watch, and listen, and absorb the wisdom of the Earth.

Our longing for a healthy future for all beings may seem too good to be true when everything in our world conspires against our efforts to reach that vision. But hope assumes that, in the end, all will be well. That all must be well! Hope is not based on facts. Hope is a choice built on the faith that we have the imagination and creativity to build such a future. And that we are, in fact, building it.

In addition to the suggestions made by F and K... we urge you today to make, or continue, a commitment to action: bring your canvas bags to the grocery store... recycle... walk, bus or bike instead of driving and, if you do drive, carpool... use compact fluorescent light bulbs... turn off lights when you leave a room... brush your teeth with the water off... plant a garden... start and maintain a compost pile... become a locavore (eating as much locally-grown food as possible)... buy minimally-packaged goods to reduce your garbage... go on a low carbon diet... support carbon offsets... take the Ten Tree Challenge, which is listed on the UU Ministry for Earth website, which was a great resource for this service...

The principle of the interconnected web reminds us that we are connected to each other as well as to the Earth and all the creatures that are a part of nature. And we must spread the message of our that connection, a message that challenges us to heal the Earth for our children, and for all of Beings on this precious planet. We must all envision and work towards a future that will be healthy for all beings as if our lives depended on it. Because, in fact, it does.

May we be among those bringing forth that vision. And may that vision come to be our reality.

P.S. Have you seen Google's logo today?


Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat
of the sweet grass?
Will the owl bite off its own wings?
Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air or
forget to sing?
Will the rivers run upstream?

Behold, I say - behold
the reliability and the finery and the teachings
of this gritty earth gift.


Eat bread and understand comfort.
Drink water, and understand delight.
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets
are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds
who are drinking the sweetness, who are
thrillingly gluttonous.

For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.

And someone's face, whom you love, will be as a star
both intimate and ultimate,
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.
And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two
beautiful bodies of your lungs.


What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.
That was many years ago.
Since then I have gone out from my confinements,
through with difficulty.
I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.
I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment
somehow or another).
And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.

QUOTE: “To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe – to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it – is a wonder beyond words. Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Furthermore, it is a privilege to be alive in this time when we can choose to take part in the self-healing of our world.” ~ Joanna Macy

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