When Things Go Wrong Can We see the Beauty?

Today Tom and I were supposed to go up to Camano Island to begin roofing our first building at the Mustard Seed Village. Things did not go as we expected. We arrived to find the lumber had not been delivered and the lumber yard was closed. Frustrating yes but the day was not wasted. We returned home and I planted pansies and bulbs instead. And now I have just watched one of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen for a long time.

How often I wonder do we miss the breathtaking beauty of God because we are all set on doing the wrong things – wrong at least from God’s perspective. So I hope that you will enjoy this sunset with me and spend some time thinking of the beautiful things you could easily have missed in the last few days if God had not redirected your footsteps.

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A friend just commented on Facebook that this reminded them of the song from Garden State Beauty in the Breakdown. And I agree with him it does seem appropriate so I thought I would add it here.

 

Blessing the Animals – Litanies and other resources

St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1220) from Wikimedia Commons.

This coming weekend is the traditional time to bless our animals at church. This Sunday we get to take our Bonnie inside to receive the blessing.

This began as a Catholic celebration associated with St Francis of Assisi, but has become extremely popular for people of many traditions in the last few years. We are discovering more and more the benefits of pets in our lives and society so blessing them at church, in the synagogue or even in our animal oriented institutions, is not just a fun thing to do it is acknowledging their importance to both us and God.

Last year I wrote this post: God bless the animals which reflects on that and highlights some of the organizations that work with animals. I also mentioned the annual blessing of the animals at Woodland park zoo here in Seattle. In 2011, in my post A Blessing for the Animals I highlighted the work of Episcopal Relief and Development and their free resource from which the liturgy I posted was drawn.

Here are some other good resources I have found for litanies on blessing animals.

Letallcreationpraise.org lists several sermons and litany for blessing the animals

St Francis Blessing Liturgy by Rev. Robert Morrison and Rev. Richard J. Fairchild

Meet me at the corner has a good introduction to blessing of the animals for kids.

Ritualwell.org has a beautiful Jewish animal blessing 

Even the humane society has published an animal blessing

And from one of my favourite comedy shows of all time –

If you have time make sure to watch this episode from The Vicar of Dibley where she blesses the animals.

 

An Urban Forest Takes Shape

A few weeks ago I published Reclaiming a Sacred Space – Cheasty Greenspace: A Place of Goodness and Grace by Mary De Jong about what is happening at the Cheasty Greenspace – an urban forest here in Seattle. Yesterday I had the chance to visit.

With Mary De Jong at the Cheasty Greenspace

With Mary De Jong at the Cheasty Greenspace

 

I was so impressed with what Mary and her collaborators have accomplished – not just reclaiming a beautiful piece of God’s creation that had been invaded by destructive species, both environmental and human, but also providing a place for the neighbourhood to interact with creation. Mary and I were brainstorming about the possibility of doing an urban equivalent of the Wild Camano here in the Fall – such fun not just to interact with creation but also with the God whose presence is so obvious in its midst.

Listen to what Mary has to say about this wonderful urban project.

 

Earth Day Is Coming – Why Should Christians Care?

I posted this last year from Earth Ministry and thought that it was definitely worth reminding ourselves again of why we as Christians should be concerned for God’s good creation. I had hoped to write another Earth Day reflection for today but the Inhabit conference consumed too much of my time this weekend.

You might also like to check out some of the Christian organizations that are concerned for creation and some of the prayers I have posted in the past for this day:

Good Seed Sunday – Celebrate with A Rocha

Evangelicals Do Care About Creation

Prayers for Creation

Renewal – Students Caring for Creation.

Earth Day To Do List from The Soulsby Farm

Garden Blessing for Earth Day

Earth Day Liturgy

And the two postcard style prayers I wrote earlier for this year:

Earth Day Meditation.

A Garden Blessing for Earth Day 2013

Godspace

Sunday April 22nd is Earth Day but why should Christians care? Over the next few days I plan to post statements from several different religious organizations that are concerned for creation.

The post below comes from earthministry.org. It very eloquently articulates my own reasons for being concerned for God’s good earth. Earth Ministry is a Seattle based creation care advocacy group. They have initiated the Washington Interfaith Power and Light project which organizes an interfaith response to climate change.

Spirituality

Creation itself inspires us and calls us to care.  Many people have had their most profound spiritual experience in nature. As we behold the power and love of God in a mountain range, a sunset, or in the timelessness of the ocean, we can’t help but be moved.  But creation also includes humans – our families, communities, and created landscapes.  God created all things of Heaven and Earth and…

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Creating Sacred Spaces – Do We Really Need Churches?

I am starting a series on Creating Sacred Space and decided to begin by reposting this very popular post from last year which is adapted from my book Return to Our Senses. What is sacred space for you? Where do you you feel closest to God? How can nurture such spaces? If you would like to contribute a post for this series please let me know.

Godspace

Our annual Celtic retreat is coming. We hold it in August on a beautiful parcel of undeveloped land on Camano Island north of Seattle. There are no buildings. Our sanctuary is a cathedral of trees – cedar and maple and alder that rise above is in a breathtaking green canopy. I particularly love to sit in the early mornings before anyone else is awake, drinking in the beauty of God’s awe inspiring creation. This is a sacred space for me, what is often called a thin space where the veil between heaven and earth seems to be translucent and the glory of God shines through in a special way.

Special places where we feel almost physically embraced by the love of God are important places of prayer for all of us. Be they a comfortable old armchair we return to day by day, a special place to walk or a…

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A Garden Blessing for Earth Day 2013

I am currently in Washington D.C. where the cherry blossoms and magnolias are in full bloom. The beauty of God’s creation is awe inspiring and so I could not resist republishing this prayer from To Garden with God together with one of the photos I took at the National Arboretum yesterday. It is also Earth Day in a couple of weeks and this is a wonderful season to remind ourselves of our responsibility to God’s good creation. Enjoy!

Garden blessing 2013.001

Practicing Resurrection – Planting Trees Helps Girl Survival In India

Photo by Matt Freer - used with permission

Photo by Matt Freer – used with permission

Last week I received a link to an article from my friend Steve Goode reminding me:

In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called “gendercide”.

Girls who survive infancy are often subject to neglect, and many grow up to face extreme violence and even death at the hands of their own husbands or other family members.

This is an issue that I have always been passionate about and I am always frustrated by how complex it is and how difficult to eradicate. The needs so overwhelming and our ability to make a difference seems so limited. I was delighted when I came across this article by Lindsay Tanne:

In Bihar, India—where the bride’s family traditionally pays a dowry—residents are planting the seeds for women’s progress.

Families in Dharhara village have started a new tradition: planting 10 trees whenever a girl is born.

But the gesture is not just symbolic—when it comes to marriage, the benefits are as sweet as the lychees and mangos that will grow.

Subhas Singh, the father of a 19-year-old daughter who is set to marry this month, describes the trees he planted as “our fixed deposits.” He explains that he sold off the fruit three years in advance to pay for his daughter’s wedding. Read the entire article

The planting of trees is not just life giving to those women whose families sell the fruit to provide for their weddings. It is also life giving for the environment.

This story reminds me of one of my heroes of the environmental movement- Wangari Maathai  who started teaching women to plant trees around their villages in Africa. Her actions started a movement that spread around the world. May the planting of these trees too start a movement that spreads and changes lives.