snow, ice pond at dusk

photo: Creative Commons (Pixel Light Media)

This morning I’ve brought a little wooden bowl of thisses and thats which I gathered yesterday when I went to a wild place. Pass it around, and when you get it, close your eyes and bring your face close, and touch it gently and smell what’s here. [Hand bowl to first child, then pause a moment, because the topic is changing.]

… The world can sometimes be such a noisy place! The world has been noisy for me these past days, especially in the news and in the streams of social media that I follow. [Speak the following with a little speed and intensity, to evoke the emotion you’re conveying.] The news has been filled with anxiety, with meanness and hurt and strain and pain…. Voices have been crying, yelling, chanting, and pleading to be heard. The stories are full of opinions and accuastions and judgments and it has all been so chaotic and confusing…. It’s not wrong, but it is… hard. It is hard. It makes for a banging, clanging, clashing, crashing feeling inside my head and my thoughts, and through it all I yearn forĀ something that I can know to trust… to be true….

And when the world gets like this, sometimes we just… need… to step away….

[In this next part, speak slowly and allow for full pauses. The silence you allow leaves room for listeners’ feelings, and the sense of peace you are intending to evoke.]

And so yesterday I went to a wild place.

I went alone, late in the afternoon, so as to be there as the darkness softly gather ’round.

I did not speak.

I began on a familiar trail, but again and again I allowed myself to be drawn off the trail to unfamiliar parts of this wild place.

It was damp and misty.

I walked.

I stood.

I sat.

I knelt down….

I gazed about me.

I listened.

I smelled the world… and I touched it….

I wept….

And I was given some part of a gift that only December can give…. December, with its loooooong nights… and its hours… and hours… of darkness…. Darkness which gives… a kind of peace.

I received that peace, and I was grateful.

And I hope to have shared something of it with you, this morning.

***
I shared this reflection in the wake of news of two failures-to-indict white police officers when they killed unarmed black men. Protests were erupting around the country as debates raged about the nature of the core issues in these events.
I struggled with whether or how to explicitly mention racism in this reflection. I ended up choosing to leave it, and so-called, “police brutality” only implied. My reasoning was mainly that with a wide age-range of children present, and a diversity of parenting styles and exposure to adult news media, I needed to set a foundation on which children might place questions to their parents outside of our Sunday morning setting. This would allow parents the freedom to respond in their authentic, honest ways to what is going on in the world right now.
The theme of this service ,”Lovely, Dark, and Deep,” aspired to lift up darkness’ gifts, and to reveal the many societal negative connotations of blackness. I chose convey this idea largely implicitly and experientially, and by “staging” my own experiential vulnerability by going to that wild place the day before, with the intention of somehow crafting that experience into a Reflection of All Ages.

 

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