We had a beautiful gathering on Thursday 14th Nov at the Unitarian Chapel Schoolroom. We shared silence, meditation, music and prayers on the theme of stewardship of the earth. Below are the prayers and poems that were offered:
Prayer to Mother Earth by Rev Lucy Bunch, Unitarian Universalist Association
We pray to you, Mother Earth, with gratitude
For your holding and sustaining love
For the air, water, and soil that feed us
For the mountains and rivers and oceans that calm our spirits
For loving and supporting all beings and all creation.
We pray to you, Mother Earth, with humility
Help us to remember our place in the great web of life
Help us to remember that we are but a part of this great web,
and that we must do our part for all life.
We pray to you, Mother Earth, for forgiveness
For our ignorance and wilful disregard of the damage we have done to you,
to the air and the waters, and the soil
and the life of this beautiful planet.
We pray to you, Mother Earth, for fortitude
to uphold our part in reversing the damage we have caused,
for fortitude to make and sustain a commitment to do our part to heal the planet.
Mother Earth, in gratitude and humility, we ask that you hold us and sustain us,
as we strive to live in connection with you and all life.
“The Buddhist Attitude Towards Nature”, by Lily de Silva
Theragātha verses 1062-1071. The simple spontaneous appreciation of nature’s exquisite beauty is expressed by the Elder Mahākassapa in the following words:
Those upland glades delightful to the soul,
Where the Kaveri spreads its wildering wreaths,
Where sound the trumpet-calls of elephants:
Those are the hills where I delight.
Those rocky heights with hue of dark blue clouds
Where lies embossed many a shining lake
Of crystal-clear, cool waters, and whose slopes~
The ’herds of Indra’ cover and bedeck
Those are the hills wherein I delight.
Fair uplands rain-refreshed, and resonant,
With crested creatures’ cries antiphonal,
Lone heights where silent Rishis oft resort:
Those are the hills wherein I delight.
Theragātha verses 527-529.The poem of Kaludāyi inviting the Buddha to visit Kapilavatthu, contains a beautiful description of spring:
Now crimson glow the trees, dear Lord, and cast
Their ancient foliage in quest of fruit,
Like crests of flame they shine irradiant,
And rich in hope, great Hero, is the hour.
Verdure and blossom-time in every tree
Wherever we look delightful to the eye,
And every quarter breathing fragrant airs,
While petals falling, yearning comes fruit: It is time,
O Hero, that we set out hence.
The Sovereign of the Dominion from Ninety-Nine Names of the Beloved by Camille Helminski
Morning has come
and we jump online
to hear the Word
of the day.
Always You keep posting
the good news
of Your welcome
to hearts who have gone astray
and strangers who are searching
for a place to lay their heads,
through the open hearts
of servants of Your Love.
You have spread out before us
a gracious land,
spacious in its lying down
and in its rising up.
This earth belongs to You,
and the starlit heavens.
How could we pretend to own it,
when we would have so few ideas
as to how to recreate it?
We glimpse a portion of its miracle
and then begin to recognize
how much greater
than ever we imagined
is even the functioning
within a single cell.
All the species,
that hold the secrets of our healing,
waiting in the balance.
We must awaken
to care for Your Creation
while there is still time
in the glass of our desire.
We never know when the moment
will arrive when You will call
to bring us Home.
May we be good trustees
of the palms and oaks
and of each other’s hearts.
Water spills from the fountain
and all Your birds come to drink—
it is not yours or mine,
O Owner of the Kingdom.
Don’t they look at the sky above them?
How We have made it and adorned it
and how there are no flaws in it?
And the earth—We have spread it wide
and firmly established mountains on it
and caused it to bring forth every kind of beautiful growth,
so offering an insight and a reminder
to every human being who willingly turns to God.
And We send down from the sky rain charged with blessing
and with it cause gardens to grow, and fields of grain,
and tall palm-trees with their thickly-clustered dates,
as sustenance for human beings;
and by all this We bring dead land to life:
even so will be the Resurrection.
Church of Jesus Christ & Latter Day Saints
From A Distance
From a distance, the world looks blue and green
And the snow-capped mountains white
From a distance the ocean meets the stream
And the eagle takes to flight.
From a distance there is harmony
And it echoes through the land
It’s the voice of hope, it’s the voice of peace, it’s the voice of everyman…
From a distance we all have enough
And no-one is in need.
There are no guns, no bombs, no disease, no hungry mouths to feed.
From a distance we are instruments
Marching in a common band,
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace
They’re the songs of everyman.
From a distance you look like my friend
Even though we are at war;
From a distance I can’t comprehend
What all this fighting’s for.
From a distance there is harmony
And it echoes through the land,
It’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves
It’s the heart of everyman.
Christian Science Church
God made all His creatures free;
Life itself is liberty;
God ordained no other bands
Than united hearts and hands.
One in fellowship of Mind,
We our bliss and glory find
In that endless happy whole,
Where our God is Life and Soul.
So shall all our slavery cease,
All God’s children dwell in peace,
And the newborn earth record
Love, and Love alone, is Lord.
As to our own planet which God has given us for a dwelling place, we must be mindful that it is given in stewardship. The power over nature that scientific knowledge has put into our hands, if used in lust or greed, fear or hatred, can bring us to utter destruction. If we choose life we may now feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and heal the sick on a world scale, thus creating new conditions for spiritual advancement so often till now prevented by want. Many of our resources – of oil, of coal and of uranium – are limited. If by condoning waste and luxury we overspend the allowance God has given us, our children’s children will be cheated of their inheritance. Limited too is the annual bounty of nature. The material foundation of our life is the tilling of the earth and the growing of food… We must conserve the goodness of the soil and not exploit it.
We must guard, too, the abundance and variety of untamed nature, and not forget the spiritual resources available to us in the continued existence of unoccupied lands. Modern civilisation perpetually threatens our awareness of the true nature of our being which in the presence of the wild we can more easily retain or at length recapture. Year by year silence and solitude are growing more needful, yet harder to obtain, and contacts, by this means, with the mind of the Creator more tenuous. To conserve nature is thus again a contribution to the fuller life of mankind.
“All the atoms of the earth bear witness, O my Lord, to the greatness of Thy power and of Thy sovereignty; and all the signs of the universe attest the glory of Thy majesty and of Thy might.” (i)
As trustees, or stewards, of the planet’s vast resources and biological diversity, humanity must learn to make use of the earth’s natural resources, both renewable and non-renewable, in a manner that ensures sustainability and equity into the distant reaches of time. This attitude of stewardship will require full consideration of the potential environmental consequences of all development activities. It will compel humanity to temper its actions with moderation and humility, realizing that the true value of nature cannot be expressed in economic terms. It will also require a deep understanding of the natural world and its role in humanity’s collective development – both material and spiritual. Therefore, sustainable environmental management must come to be seen not as a discretionary commitment mankind can weigh against other competing interests, but rather as a fundamental responsibility that must be shouldered – a pre-requisite for spiritual development as well as the individual’s physical survival. (ii)
“O Lord! Unite and bind together the hearts, join in accord all the souls, and exhilarate the spirits through the signs of Thy sanctity and oneness. O Lord! Make these faces radiant through the light of Thy oneness. Strengthen the loins of Thy servants in the service of Thy kingdom. O Lord God! Make us as waves of the sea, as flowers of the garden, united, agreed through the bounties of Thy love. O Lord! make all mankind as stars shining from the same height of glory, as perfect fruits growing upon Thy tree of life. Verily, Thou art the Almighty, the Self-Subsistent, the Giver, the Forgiving, the Pardoner, the Omniscient, the One Creator.” (iii)
(i) Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
(ii) (Bahá’í International Community, Valuing Spirituality in Development: Initial Considerations Regarding the Creation of Spiritually Based Indicators for Development. A concept paper written for the World Faiths and Development Dialogue, Lambeth Palace, London, 18-19 February 1998)
(iii) Prayers of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá