Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Laurel's Ocean Prayer of Lament

Laurel’s Ocean Prayer of Lament

When we pick up and dispose of the first candy wrapper
I think “Oh good, the beach is already happier.”

As we hunt down and pick up the third rubber band
How glad I am that we’re lending a hand
To the turtles in water and seabirds on land
Keeping plastic from their stomachs, keeping plastic from the sand

When we pick up the tenth tiny piece of styrofoam
A flip-flop, a razor, a light bulb, a comb
I’m reminded that our impact, if you’ll pardon the expression,
Is a drop in the ocean; barely an impression

We drop the one hundredth cigarette butt in the bag
If only people considered what happens after they take the last drag
Chemicals that poison and materials that last
For centuries upon centuries, yet discarded so fast

By the time we collect the thousandth bit of plastic
My mind boggled, heart aching, I can’t help but ask if
There is hope that we can get ourselves under control
That we teach and preach conservation, of and for all

And that we see that our purpose is not domination
But, here in the sacred universe, participation

This poem’s author, Laurel Anderson, is a member of the youth group from Foothills UCC, Los Altos, who spent last week doing Blue Theology (ocean stewardship and spirituality) here in Pacific Grove.

She read the poem as part of the sermon in our Sunday closing worship with the congregation of the Christian Church of Pacific Grove which hosts these Blue Theology groups.  She and 6 other members of the Foothills group shared prayers they had written that spoke of: “Wow” “Help” “I’m Sorry” “Lament” and “Thank You.”  All were moving.

Laurel volunteered (Saturday night!) to do the Lament Prayer.  Her model was those many painfully detailed Old Testament Psalms of Lament– “How Long, O God?” 

Thanks Laurel for naming the pain and sin of trash, and lifting up how our redemption is participation.

(Pic is from the beach cleanup a book group in Hong Kong did after a big river flood covered their beaches with trash.  Finding a Google Image of “beach trash” means seeing much pain and sin.  Check out for more about our youth service trips and adult pilgrimages by the sea.)

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