Everywhere as Blue as Mine
150 local religious leaders – priests, rabbis, imams, monks, pastors and laypeople - we all stood in front of the huge Open Sea window at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and lifted our voice in song. Inside the one-million gallon tank swam tuna and turtles, sharks and ocean sunfish, anchovies and mahi mahi. They couldn’t hear us, but it looked like they were dancing in time. We, on the dry side, in the shimmering dark, heard each other very well, and we too swayed as we sang together:
This is my song, oh God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
This is my song, oh God of all the nations;
a song of peace for their land and for mine.
It was 8 AM, two hours before the general public enters, and the Aquarium had not only funded this daylong interfaith gathering, but allowed us to have worship in front of the big window. First we had some Buddhist walking meditation. Then the rabbi blew the shofar. The native elder chanted. And the large choir from the Carmel Mission, including several Aquarium staff people, led us in this hymn, which you may know, to the tune of Finlandia.
The Aquarium had taken a giant leap of faith, as it were, to bridge the science-religion demilitarized zone. They asked me to organize this day, so faith leaders could learn about ocean conservation and encourage their communities to get involved in coast stewardship projects. In the year following this conference, we calculated that 8000 Central Coast worshippers heard about ocean conservation in their place of worship.
We religious types knew already that the ocean inspires wonder and gratitude to the Creator. The scientists and environmental leaders (another 50 folks) whom we invited to be in conversation with us were surprised and moved by the gathering. And the singing.
Many of us church folks sang this hymn this past Sunday as a companion to traditional patriotic July 4th songs. How about we add some new verses, to celebrate the ocean? Here are my first attempts – add yours!
My country’s seas are bluer than the sky is
And sunlight beams on water, fresh and brine….
As rivers all flow gently to the ocean
Their waters merging, branch and vine…
Don’t take all fish with purse seine nets and trawling
Instead be gentle, use a hook and line…..
God sets before us all a simple challenge:
Care of creation, that is our plumb line…..
But all the nations share the waves and coastline
And seas are everywhere as blue as mine.
This is my song, Oh God of all the nations;
A song of peace for their seas and for mine.
I post these “Blue Theology Tide-ings” here every Wednesday here and on Facebook, on my personal page and at the Blue Theology Mission Station page. In my other weekly column “I Must Go Down to the Sea Again” <http://www.thebackroadcafe.com/i-must-go-down-to-the-sea-agai/>
I’ve been riffing on the “Seven Principles of Ocean Literacy.” This week it’s about how biodiversity is much greater in the ocean than on land. Also check out bluetheology.com for info on our youth service trips and adult pilgrimages in Pacific Grove.