In the shadowed quiet of winter’s light
earth mourns softly…
Kneel down here
on the frosty grass,
and seek the hope buried in the ground.
Bend your ear to the beating heart of the planet
and listen hard.
A whisper: love this world.
Distill peace from the snow
and water the cities
Weave wonder from the forest
and clothe grief
Rest in the rhythm of the turning year,
trace the golden threads
connecting all beings,
and vow anew to do no harm.
The winter trees stand watch
haloed in the last gleams of the slanting sun.
Make your life an answer:
Live in Awe.
adapted from Rebecca Parker’s A Winter Blessing
“For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.”
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.
I first posted this video in the spring a couple of years ago. I’m posting it again in recognition of the upcoming Honouring Loss service this Sunday at the Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga. A visual poem about the inseparable nature of life and death, it speaks to the Unitarian Universalist sense that death is part of the natural cycle, to be grieved over but not denied. Life crumbles into decay and composts into new life, over and over and over again.
the swirling colours of autumn surround us
glorious gold, yellow, and orange
bronzed brown, deep vibrant red
how can we not feel amazed and grateful?
Rev. Ann Willever
As Unitarian Universalists we acknowledge the interdependence of life on this planet, and seek a healthy, respectful relationship with water. Our ecological sensibility is in harmony with other, ancient traditions, from India to the First Nations on this continent. The links below show us people dedicated to transforming our attitude towards water. We must re-learn that water, so necessary to life, has inherent value and is sacred.
Dr. Vandana Shiva is a renowned scholar and environmental activist, here she speaks about the Hindu relationship to the sacred Ganges river.
In the video at the link below, Cree Elders in Alberta are seeking healthier relationships with water and all peoples.
Water: Sacred Relationship
In Peterborough, Ontario, indigenous and non-indigenous people are working together to care for water.
Sacred Water Circle
With easy access to water through our municipal water systems, tidied away in faucets and pipes, drains and culverts, we take it for granted. Today I invite you to reflect on the restorative powers of water.
At Blackwater Pond
At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?
This short video by artist Maik Thomas offers a visual meditation on a quiet pond. Sit down, breathe deeply and take a break beside the water.
In honour of the beautiful mystery of water – and the mystery of living – this poem comes from American poet William Stafford:
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.
We are celebrating our Water Ceremony this Sunday at the Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga. This annual in-gathering ritual begins our community year using the symbol of water. People bring water from their summer experiences and pour it into our communal bowl, honouring the community which brings us together, reminding us of our shared connections. Every day this week, I’ll post poems, stories and videos about the value and beauty of water.
While his description of humans as “blobs of water” is not poetic (!), David Suzuki in his book The Legacy of Nature reminds us of our deep ecological dependence on water.
“A visitor from another galaxy would surely call our planet Water, not Earth. Seventy-one per cent of the planet’s surface is covered by oceans. If the globe were a perfectly smooth sphere, water would cover it to a depth of 2.7 kilometres. The air is filled with water vapour that condenses as clouds. Above the great Amazon rainforest, trees pull water from the ground and transpire it upward, where it flows in great rivers of vapour toward the Andes.
Every person in the world is at least 60 per cent water by weight. We are basically blobs of water with enough organic thickener mixed in to prevent us from dribbling away on the floor. The hydrologic cycle of evaporation, condensation, and rain ensures that water cartwheels around the planet. We are part of the hydrologic process. Every drink we take has water molecules that evaporated from the canopies of every forest in the world, from all the oceans and plains.” (pg.76)
We are water.