Earth Day 2021 – The Everything Seed

Published by AV Coordinator on

AJ Fox reads us a special story called The Everything Seed, by Carole Martignacco.

Moment of Perspective – Earth Day 2021

The opening words are Being Human Means We Are Of This Earth, by Sweethome Teacup.

May we recognize and abandon the familiar attitudes and practices that do not serve the whole. We are who we are
and we have the opportunity to be who we want to be,
to create a new inheritance for the future.
May our thoughts, words, and actions in our daily lives
assist in dismantling paradigms of oppression and suffering.
May we give thanks for our individual place in time and space,
to our families and our relationships that touch and change us.
May we give thanks to the wise teachers who help us remember how to be
and the chance to make it so.
Underneath and within these stories and histories is our humanity.
Being human means we are of this earth,
we are these waters, we are fire, and atmosphere, we are the Sun and the moon and the stars.
We are all that we see and the wisdom is revealed by looking in between.

Dear Weaver of Our Lives’ Design
By Nancy C. Dorian and Nikolaus Herman, harmonized by J. S. Bach
Permission granted from the UUA
Performed by Eva Riebold

This is old music. The composer lived 1480-1561 and Bach added to the piece. The words are from the 20th Century and address the patterns and designs of our lives and that our understanding of the “fabric” helps to set us free. That sounds like BECOMING to me.

  • Eva Riebold, Pianist

Blue Boat Home
Words: Peter Mayer
Music: Roland Hugh Prichard, adapted by Peter Mayer
Keyboard arr: Jason Shelton
Used with Permission
Performed by Carter Meints

I distinctly remember the first time I sang this hymn with our congregation and how I was immediately overcome with emotion in response. I happened to hear it right around the time I was considering membership, either just before or just after I signed the book, and the experience of singing this hymn with you all was confirmation for me that I was indeed home. These lyrics are stunning poetry and the way this music moves and flows just seeps down into me past every surface-level concern and quickly brings me to a place of contemplating life’s deeper questions and feeling a deep sense of gratitude, awe, and wonder to be alive and sharing this journey with all of you. It’s said that one of the longest journeys is from the head to the heart, and it’s also maybe rightly said that UUs spend more time in the head than the heart and don’t always provide opportunities for people to feel deeply moved by our values and experiences instead of just chatting intelligently about them. I’m grateful for this music, and the transcendent sense of mystery and awe that it connects me to every time. Our thanks go out to Carter for being so willing to accompany us as we sing it together in virtual space this Sunday for Earth Day. The words will be in the chat box so we can all sing along. You may also really enjoy reading these additional thoughts from Rev. Kimberly Debus:

  • Emily McKinney. Music Director

The Place Called Planet Earth
Words: Sheena Phillips
Music: The House of the Rising Sun (Trad. English Folk Song)
Used with Permission from the Justice Choir Songbook
Performed by Emily McKinney

We are so fortunate to have access to the Justice Choir Songbook with free permission to record and share the wonderful music we find inside. I enjoy singing “House of the Rising Sun” on any given day, anyway, which makes the setting of this text doubly fun. Much like the traditional tune, this song is a cautionary moral tale, but this time it’s about the dangers of the path we find ourselves on currently in regards to environmental justice. That’s more our style than shaming sex workers and people living with addiction, anyway. As part of my certification work, I just finished reading the book “Justice On Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class, and the Environment,” and it was eye-opening and transformative for me to learn more about the ways UUs and others are learning to approach environmental justice as one integrated piece of a whole vision for a more just world. We know that Black and Indigenous People of Color, and that people living in poverty, are more adversely affected by the degradation of the environment. Years of policy and practice in this country have assured that when a factory that releases toxic waste goes up, it does not go up anywhere near a white, affluent neighborhood. Racial justice, economic justice, and environmental justice are all threads of one interdependent web of existence, and they cannot effectively be addressed in separate silos. White environmentalists have a reputation for obliviously seeking to “protect nature” and create a mythical vision of wide, open, pristine nature preserves that are unspoiled by human hands. This sounds nice and all, but we ignore the histories of so many people who have lived peacefully and sustainably within “untouched” lands for centuries, and this view also forgets that human beings with access to safe water, food, and air, are PART OF the nature we should be working to save. Nature minus humans is not, or should not be, our goal. Humans being able to safely and respectfully live within the world we share, and sharing it well with non-human nature, too, should be our goal for all our shared justice work. I’ll be putting this fabulous book in our church library so you can have a chance to read it, too. Meanwhile, enjoy this fun musical reminder of things we already know: Our earth is beautiful and inherently worthy of our care and protection. We have created unsustainable and harmful systems of exploiting the earth that also harm and exploit marginalized people of earth. We have a chance to collectively change our ways together, and it starts with our own small resistance to the status quo with whatever we find within our sphere of influence to do.

  • Emily McKinney, Music Director

We Sing of Golden Mornings
Words: Ralph Waldo Emerson
Music: Southern Harmony (1835)
Performed by Marilyn Day, Emily McKinney, Laura Parsons, and Eva Riebold

I’ve been here about six years at this point but had never heard this gorgeous hymn before, to my knowledge. My most recent class for certification was on UU history and theology and I experienced something of a second spiritual homecoming within my original realization that I am a UU. We were exploring the Transcendentalist roots in our UU theology and I was a little mad to realize I had read about all these poets and writers in school but no one had ever mentioned that almost all the big names in Transcendentalism were current or former Unitarian ministers. And then, when I came to UUism, no one bothered to mention that our denomination is the heir of these incredible spiritual pioneers. As part of our class work, we explored the hymnal for music representing a certain thread in our theological history and this was one my classmates shared from the Transcendentalist perspective. It’s doubly wonderful because not only do we get to sing Ralph Waldo Emerson (and know he was one of our own) but it’s set to a Southern Harmony tune, which, in my opinion, is where we find some of the very best hymn harmonies. They are “home grown” for the most part, coming out of American folk music traditions that were active at the time the hymn melodies and harmonies were compiled.

Many of us find that while UU does a fabulous job nurturing our minds and intellects, it doesn’t always supply us with practices and guidance for how to feel deeply connected and committed to the truths we find via our wordy discourses. This short blog post was part of my assigned reading for class and I am sharing it here just in case anyone else finds that returning to our Transcendentalist history touches something important for them, too:

Our thanks to Marilyn, Laura, and Eva for supplying us with this lovely performance.

  • Emily McKinney, Music Director

The closing words are Go In Peace, Speak the Truth, by Gary Kowalski.

Go in peace, speak the truth, give thanks each day.
Respect the earth and her creatures,
for they are alive like you.
Care for your body; it is a wondrous gift.
Live simply. Be of service.
Be guided by your faith and not your fear.
Go lightly on your path. Walk in a sacred manner.

Categories: Sermon