Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Sacred Wet Activism

Sacred Wet Activism

How did you celebrate World Water Day this past Sunday March 22? Did you wake with a prayer of gratitude for all things wet?  As you washed your hands and sang Happy Birthday twice, did you turn off the faucet?  Maybe took a shorter shower?  Or thought of those millions of folks with no regular safe water?

I am more aware of Earth Day, April 22 than World Water Day March 22.  But thank you United Nations for establishing World Water Day in 1993.  Good resources and activism,  WASH – Water and Sanitation and Hygiene.

 And thank you Unitarian Universalist churches, who taught me about World Water Day.  And what they call Climate Justice Month, March 22- April 22, Water Day to Earth Day.  It’s their version of Lent, a winter/spring time of what they call sacred activism, a month of reflection/penitence/limits/gratitude. 

Spring into water and earth care, the UUs say, a time of reveling, reckoning, reconnecting and recommitting to climate justice.

This morning I am sad, distracted, lonely, grateful, stuck, wondering, afraid.  I can get out of these feelings by saying thank you water. WASH.  Blessed be water and earth.

 I post these water reflections every Wednesday here and on Facebook.
 Be in touch!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Lost at Sea

Lost at Sea
“Sheltering in place,” sounds so safe and comforting, homebound with a good book, food in the fridge.
But life in this COVID-19 world feels more like being lost at sea in a stormy fog.  Wet danger is everywhere.  We’re not sure where we are, what’s next, or if rescue is coming.  And what about the others in this lifeboat?
Because I experience power and possibility in the ocean, as well as metaphors galore, here’s some Blue Theology (ocean spirituality and stewardship) for this pandemic:
-NY Gov. Cuomo on whether we can “flatten the curve of this disease;” “I don’t see a curve; I see a wave. And the wave is going to break on the health care system, and I am telling you, it is going to be a tsunami.

-The fogbound feeling, for me, and our world, comes from this agonizing uncertainty and ever changing news and plans.  I first heard the phrase “Fog of War” in the film about Robert McNamara and the Vietnam War (check out his “lessons learned.”)   But “fog of war” is a century old military term meaning “uncertainty or ignorance about one’s own capability and that of one’s adversary.  In a fog of war commanders don’t know the real strength and position not only of their foes, but also of their friends.”

-Friends and foes.  As a Christian I try not to divide folks into friend or foe, we’re all in this together, and all children of God.  The Body of Christ has the coronavirus.  When one suffers all suffer. 

-But I am reminded of “lifeboat ethics,” ecologist Garret Hardin’s profound metaphor, from the 1970’s, about how to decide who gets what in this overpopulated, finite and highly fractured world.  He rejected a previous popular metaphor, “Spaceship Earth,” since it implied one commander and a common destination.  No, he said, the rich nations are like a lifeboat floundering at sea with 50 passengers and room for 10 more.  The many desperate swimmers in the ocean are the poor nations.  (I read this then new exciting book in ethics class in seminary.) Who survives?  Who chooses?  By what criteria?

-Well, we clearly don’t have a commander who knows where we are going or what to do (or, like captains of ships, or the ship of state, knows to put the passengers first, to go down with the ship.)

-Where am I, are we, in that image?  On the boat, in the waves?  We hope, in the way that ships traditionally saved women and children first, that we will try today to take extra precautions so the vulnerable elderly and chronically ill might be safe. But…..

-I pondered writing a comforting Blue Theology “Tide-ing” post during this challenging week, something about cool sea creatures. Worried about the future?  Check out this fabulous jelly fish.  I do commend ocean videos as stress reducers – so many doctors have aquariums in their offices because looking at them literally lowers our blood pressure.  Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium website; even though closed, they still have their live cams of penguins, otters, kelp forest, jellies.  Also, on their Facebook Page every morning M-F at 8 Pacific Time, the Aquarium is offering 10 minutes of what they call a “Medit-ocean,” mindful images of ocean calm and beauty.

-I called this post “Lost at Sea.” Which doesn’t just mean literally lost.  It also means dead, died at sea.  The tsunami will only get larger.  What to do?  Build more boats?  Hold on to the side of the boat?  Pull others into the boat?  Who knows where this foggy storm will take us?  It’s a big scary ocean out there.

I post these ocean devotionals every Wednesday here and on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

She Starts for the Blue Ocean

She Starts for the Blue Ocean

“I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze,
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch her until she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.

“Then someone at my side says: ‘There! She’s gone!’
Gone where? Gone from my sight – that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side,
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of her destination.
Her diminished size is in me, and not in her.

“And just at the moment
when someone at my side says: ‘There! She’s gone!’
there are other eyes that are watching for her coming;
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:
‘There she comes!’”

*.   *.    *.   *.   *.  *.  *. 

Leave a tender moment alone.  Let the mystery be.  Just read this poem and reflect on life, death, ocean journeys.

Or/And: Stir into the water of this moving poem some Blue Theology, ocean spirituality.

-Many hospices and funeral homes hand out printed copies of this poem.

-A not-original last line is often added – “And that is dying.”

-Its title is “Gone from My Sight,” written probably by Luther Beecher, often credited to Henry Van Dyke, both cool 19th century divines.

-If Van Dyke wrote it, he’s also the author of the English words to “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” – “Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest.”

-It wasn’t just the Vikings who saw death as an ocean journey.

-The death journey is not always as peaceful as this pic.  Still, a moving image and possibility -  we move from this coastline, over the depths, to a new shore.

-The world is round, so is the ocean, vaster than our little shore, our limited sight.

-There she comes, death as coming, not (just) leaving.

-Great phrases like “bear her load of living freight,” “her diminished size is in me, not in her,” “other eyes watching for her coming.”

-What moves you in this poem?
I post these ocean devotionals every Wednesday here and on Facebook has details of pilgrimages and service trips along Monterey Bay.  Sail on silver bird!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

It is Well with My Wells

It is Well with My Wells

Every time we drink a glass of water, we say thank you to a well, to the mystery of water deep underground, and the marvels of human engineering.  We receive a gift  - life-giving water “welling up” from the depths. 

For the first time in all my decades of doing a ministry of Blue Theology (ocean stewardship and spirituality) I’ll be preaching in a few weeks about wells.  Sure, I mostly focus on saltwater.  But water is water. 

You preachers know I am working with the amazing story of the meeting at a well between an unnamed Samaritan woman and Jesus.  They exchange water at what was even then an ancient and hallowed meeting place and source of life.   She gives him a drink in the noonday sun.  He gives her “living water welling up from the deep” and says she will never thirst again.  I like to think they each gifted the other, that both were thirsty, and both went away quenched.

Here’s what I’ve got so far - prayers and suggestions welcome.

-Wells are meeting places, often with and for women.  Women are the main drawers and carriers of water worldwide.  Many Bible stories tell of women at wells, Hagar, Rebekah and this unnamed woman.  Women share stories at wells, quench themselves and others.  Who are the women who have drawn and carried water for us?

-Wells often have names - Jacob’s well, Abraham’s. Where I live, 20 families draw from a well that neighbors crafted ourselves 50 years ago (later with professional help.).  We first tapped into a local creek and so we still call it the Brandon Creek Mutual Water System. 

But we all call other wells by name. Thirsting, like that Samaritan woman, not just for ground water, but spiritual water, living water.  What are the names of your living water wells?  Church? Prayer? Wise Ones?  In the spirit of the letter W, I name my spiritual wells - Wise Words, Women, Worship, Waiting, Walking.  When I drink from these waters, it is well with my soul, and with my wells.

-Wells mean abundance, “welling up.”  Our curious English language uses the same word,  “well,” for a deep water conduit, and “well,” that is, done satisfactorily.  Other languages have different words for these two “wells.”  But are these two English wells so different?  They seem to come from a common root, and “well done” and “drink from the well” both signify abundance, productivity, possibility.

Then of course there are wishing wells.  More W’s.  Water and wishes.  That might be another sermon.

Thanks to all of you for your good “well wishes” to me after my announcement last week of my retirement from the public and program ministry of Blue Theology.  Obviously I will still be writing, drawing from so many wondrous wet wells.  Stay thirsty, my friends.