Coming Alive and Fostering Hope

 

Submitted by Board Member, the Rev. Tanya Trzeciak

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs;
ask yourself what makes you come alive.
And then go and do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

~Harold Whitman

I came across this saying while searching for something entirely different.  Coincidence?  Like my favorite television character always tells his team, I don’t believe in coincidences.

I don’t think we have to ask ourselves what the world, our country, or our neighborhood needs.  We already have a good idea.  The question should be ”what are we going to do about it?” We just celebrated the official beginning of spring and along with that occasion our thoughts turned to warmer days, trees bursting into flower and leaf, flowers pushing up through the brown earth and more birds singing outside our windows.  With spring always comes the promise of beauty and peace…hope of better things to come.

The political climate doesn’t look as if there is a bright, beautiful future for many of country but we have to foster hope.  Hope that we can stay alive and become more observant and involved in what is happening around us.  As pagans we believe in cycles…the Wheel of the Year, the cycles of life, death and life and the cycle of darkness and light.  We may be in the winter of despair but like the coming of spring after the darkness of winter, there is hope and light.  We must keep the light alive.  We must come alive and resist the darkness. What makes you come alive? What gives you hope?

Blessing Animals

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Contributed by the Executive Director, The Rev. Tara K. Soughers, PhD

In early fall, you may see announcements in Christian Churches for a service called, “Blessing of the Animals.”  It can be done within the normal Sunday morning service or at some time, but it is generally in close proximity to October 4.

Many branches of the Christian Church have special days to remember exemplary practitioners of the faith, who are often called saints.  The word saint comes from the word which means holy or dedicated to God.  While different traditions have different criteria for naming someone a saint and recognize different people, most will have at least some people who they hold up as examples of how to live a Christian life.  Many of these saints are also associated with particular geographical locations or ethnic groups.  Most people are familiar with Irish St. Patrick’s day celebrations or Italian St. Joseph’s Day celebrations.  On these days, there may be special food or activities that call to mind the story of the saint.

Francis of Assisi was born in Italy in 1182 to a rich garment merchant.  He lived a carefree life of luxury until he was badly wounded in a battle.  The long convalescence changed him, and afterwards, he rejected the rich life he had been living to live a life in poverty.  Others began to follow him, and eventually he founded the Franciscans, and with Clare, the poor Clares.

As with many saints, the provable and factual stories are the most important, but it is the tales that grow up around the saint that are the most interesting.  It is true that Francis believed that we are brothers and sisters with all creation, as attested to in his poem “Canticle of the Sun.”  What is less sure are the stories of his remarkable kinship with animals, such as asking birds to cease their nightly chatter until he had finished preaching or making peace between a wolf and a village.  These stories, however, have captured people’s imaginations for centuries, and many depictions of Francis show him with either a bird or a wolf.  Because of this St. Francis is a much beloved saint, and statues of him will adorn many gardens

So in honor of St. Francis, some churches acknowledge that we are brothers and sisters with all creatures by honoring those animals that share our lives.  You don’t have to be a Christian to join in the celebration of the ways that animals, particularly our pets, demonstrate something about the love of God for all creation, who is praised through all creatures.

 

Summer Solstice

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Contributed by board member, The Rev. Tanya April-Trzeciak

The summer Solstice is my favorite Sabbat. Since I love the sun and bright days, I can enjoy a few more minutes of this precious light during the longest day of the year. My spirituality is nature based and I find my connection with all things more focused during the summer when life is teeming all around. The Hummingbirds are defending the feeders they claimed as their own; all the birdhouses in my gardens are filled with young; flowers are blooming everywhere I turn and I’m hoping for a good crop of vegetables soon. What more could I ask for?

As I sit on a bench under an evergreen, I meditate and offer thanks for all that I have. I have been blessed with a house that is surrounded by trees and shrubs, and neighbors who also respect nature. Waking up these summer mornings to the birds singing and the roosters from the neighboring chicken farm are like music to my ears. Some might find these sounds so early – just before dawn – an annoyance, but I find them beautiful and a nice reminder that nature is sharing her sacredness with me.

In this time of growth and abundance we should reflect on all that we have and celebrate how the “seeds” we have planted in our lives are coming to bloom.

Blessed Be.