April 2020 WATERritual

Return to Life for Earth Day

By Diann L. Neu, Techika Rhodes and Laura Carr-Pries

Listen to the audio of our April 2020 WATERritual here.

Preparation
Set your altar (remember we will be on Zoom and everyone will be able to see this!) Spread an Earth-colored cloth or scarf in a space of your choice; on and around it place symbols from the Earth, i.e. a bowl of soil, rocks, flowers, leaves; bread, a glass of water, nuts or fruit.

Call to Gather 
April 22 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. Earth is a sacred place of ever-greening life. Trees, springs, mountains, flowers, animals, and humans live on her and call her home. Each teaches us about living and dying. All creation is interconnected.

This year the fights against COVID-19 and the climate crisis go hand-in-hand. As we are staying indoors due to this pandemic, we are witnessing the ways Earth is returning to life as we change our behaviors. This pandemic challenges us to make connections between ecology and our own lives.

The beauty and power of Earth has been exploited and we now find ourselves in a time of “climate crisis” where we are being told that we must take urgent and necessary action. Those who profit from this status quo of exploitation refuse to do so, but the cries of Earth, youth, and scientists are becoming harder to ignore. May this time of celebrating move us to listen and respond to these calls, and live in a way that cherishes, protects, and revives the Earth, and rejects exploitation and extraction. Planet Earth needs our respect and care to survive and return to life.
Naming the Circle Diann

Let us take time to create our community and unite ourselves with all creation. Take a symbol of Earth, show it to us, speak your name, say where you are geographically, and say what you are thinking about this Earth Day. (Sharing)

Prayer of Creation
Reader 1: Let us pray the Chinook Blessing Litany
from Earth Prayers, edited by Roberts and Amidon:

Reader 1: We call upon our planet home,
with its beautiful depths and soaring heights,
its vitality and abundance of life,
and together we ask that it…
All: Teach us and show us the way.

Reader 2: We call upon the mountains, the Cascades and the Olympics,
the high green valleys and meadows filled with flowers,
the snows that never melt, the summits of intense silence,
and we ask that they…
All: Teach us and show us the way.

Reader 1: We call upon the waters that rim the Earth,
horizon to horizon,
that flow in our rivers and streams,
that fall upon our gardens and fields,
and we ask that they.
All: Teach us and show us the way.

Reader 2: We call upon the land which grows our food,
the nurturing soil, the fertile fields,
the abundant gardens and orchards,
and we ask that they…
All: Teach us and show us the way.

Reader 1: We call upon the forests, the great trees
reaching strongly to the sky with earth in their roots
and the heavens in their branches,
the fir and the pine and the cedar,
and we ask them to…
All: Teach us and show us the way.

Reader 2: We call upon the creatures of the fields and forests and seas,
our brothers and sisters the wolves and deer,
the eagle and dove, the great whales and the dolphin,
the beautiful orca and salmon who share our Earth-home,
and we ask them to…
All: Teach us and show us the way.

Reader 1: We call upon all those who have lived on this Earth,
our ancestors and our friends,
who dreamed the best for future generations,
and upon whose lives our lives are built,
and with thanksgiving, we call upon them to…
All: Teach us and show us the way.

Reader 2: And lastly, we call upon all that we hold most sacred,
the presence and power of the Great Spirit of love and truth
which flows through all the universe…
to be with us to…
All: Teach us and show us the way.

Song: “From A Distance” by Bette Midler

From a distance the world looks blue and green
And the snow-capped mountains white
From a distance the ocean meets the stream
And the eagle takes to flight

From a distance there is harmony
And it echoes through the land
It’s the voice of hope
It’s the voice of peace
It’s the voice of every [one]

From a distance we all have enough
And no one is in need
And there are no guns, no bombs and no disease
No hungry mouths to feed

From a distance we are instruments
Marching in a common band
Playing songs of hope
Playing songs of peace
They are the songs of every [one]

God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us from a distance

From a distance you look like my friend
Even though we are at war
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
What all this fighting’s for

From a distance there is harmony
And it echoes through the land
And it’s the hope of hopes
It’s the love of loves
It’s the heart of every [one]
It’s the hope of hopes
It’s the love of loves
This is the song of every [one]

And God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us from a distance
God is watching us
God is watching
God is watching us from a distance
Source: LyricFind; Songwriters: Julie Gold; From a Distance lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Songtrust Ave, A Side Music LLC D/B/A Modern Works Music Publishing

Thoughts of Returning to Life

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
Greta Thunberg, Speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit, September 2019

“Breaking the spirit of nature today through rape and violence done to the Earth, and breaking the spirit of nineteenth-century slave women through rape and violence, constitute crimes against nature and against the human spirit… This defilement of nature’s body and of black women’s bodies is sin, since its occurrence denies that black women and nature are made in the image of God. Its occurrence is an assault upon the spirit of creation in women and nature.”
Delores Williams, “Sin, Nature, and Black Women’s Bodies,” in Ecofeminism and the Sacred edited by Carol Adams

“There is only one path to survival and liberation for nature, women, and men, and that is the ecological path to harmony, sustainability, and diversity.”
Vandana Shiva, in Thinking Green! by Petra Kelly

Chant: “The Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water,” sung by Libana Techika https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CnUGaH51IA

The Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water
Return, return, return, return
The Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water
Return, return, return, return, return.
Ae, ae, ae, ae, aio, aio, aio, aio
Ae, ae, ae, ae, Aio, aio, aio, aio

“But for those not yet touched by the disease and certainly for the generations as yet unborn, prevention is the imperative need.”
Rachel Carson, in Silent Spring

“Our thoughts must be on how to restore to the Earth its dignity as a living being; how to stop raping and plundering it as a matter of course. We must begin to develop the consciousness that everything has equal rights because existence itself is equal. In other words, we are all here: trees, people, snakes, alike. …[B]eyond feeding and clothing and sheltering ourselves, even abundantly, we should be allowed to destroy only what we ourselves can re-create. We cannot re-create this world. We cannot re-create ‘wilderness.’ We cannot even, truly, re-create ourselves. Only our behavior can we re-create, or create anew.”
Alice Walker, “Everything Is a Human Being,” in Living by the Word

“I shall remind you of the works of God, and tell you what I have seen… Who could ever grow tired of gazing on God’s glory?”
Sirach 42: 15, 25

Chant: “The Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water”
The Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water
Return, return, return, return
The Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water
Return, return, return, return, return.
Ae, ae, ae, ae, aio, aio, aio, aio
Ae, ae, ae, ae, Aio, aio, aio, aio

Reflection

How do you experience an interconnection with the pain and the power of creation during this COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis? What do you hope for the Earth? How do you imagine restoration and healing?

Let us collectively take a moment of silence as we reflect on these questions. Then I will invite us to share our thoughts.

Blessing the Fruits of the Earth
Creation shares power and life by giving us daily food. Lift your symbols of Earth and glass of water. Extend your hands, palms up, and let us bless these fruits of the Earth together.

Blessed are you, Source of Life, for creating these fruits of the Earth and sharing manna and water with your people as they wandered in the desert. Earth, air, fire, water, and spirit combined to make this food and drink. Numberless beings have died and labored that we may be nourished with the power of creation to nourish life.

Let us raise our glasses of water, and toast the Earth saying, “To life.”

Chant: “O Great Spirit,” Traditional Native American.

O, Great Spirit, (Left hand circles up, out, and to center)
Earth, Sun, Sky, and Sea (Right hand circles up, out, and to center)
You are inside (Namaste, hands folded)
And all around me. (roll hands in front of body)
Repeat (x5)

Call to Partnership with All Relations from Joanna Macy, in Earth Prayers

We hear you, fellow-creatures. We know we are wrecking the world and we are afraid. Don’t leave us alone, we need your help. You need us too for your own survival. Are there powers you can share with us?
“I, lichen, work slowly, very slowly. Time is my friend. This is what I give you: patience for the long haul and perseverance.”
“It is a dark time. As deep-diving trout I offer you my fearlessness of the dark.”
“I, lion, give you my roar, the voice to speak out and be heard.”
“I am caterpillar. The leaves I eat taste bitter now. What I offer you, humans, is my willingness to dissolve and transform… without knowing what the end-result will be; so, I share with you my courage too.”

Take Action 

  • Be part of Earth Day Live: a three-day livestream where millions of people can join activists, celebrities, musicians, and more in an epic moment of community and hope for the future. https://www.earthdaylive2020.org/?source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR37HxdiVbM9104JHAayKUzKRr0qgzrm03RFlavI3-ghjrhYevoMiPfNvT0
  • Let’s take action that Earth may survive and return to life:
    Take the Earth Day daily challenge: https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-challenge/
  • Plant Trees of Hope https://www.ucc.org/plantatree?utm_campaign=tree_planting_campaign_msg_3&utm_medium=email&utm_source=unitedchurchofchrist
  • Join Artists for Earth: harness the power of Art to heighten awareness, increase the environment’s relevance in everyday lives, mobilize action and illuminate the path forward for our planet. https://www.earthday.org/campaign/artists-for-the-earth/

Sending Forth
I who am the source of all life, I send you forth
to manifest life for all the Earth.
Blessed be life. Please echo this after me.
Blessed be life. (Echo)

I who am the beauty of all life, I send you forth
to manifest beauty for all the Earth.
Blessed be beauty. (Echo)

I who am the power of all life, I send you forth
to manifest power for all the Earth.
Blessed be power. (Echo)

I who am the truth of all life, I send you forth
to manifest truth for all the Earth.
Blessed be truth. (Echo)

I who am the energy of all life, I send you forth
to manifest energy for all the Earth.
Blessed be energy. (Echo)

I who am the healer of all life, I send you forth
to manifest healing and wellness for all the Earth.
Blessed be healing and wellness. (Echo)

Song: “Heal our Home,” by Poor Clare

Our souls will sing to God all our days
For She is great (repeat)

Surrounded by light
You build your home
Over mighty oceans, over mighty oceans
Ooooooo, ooooo

You provide strings
Over hills and the valleys
Animals drink
Wild birds are all singing

Spirit come,
Heal our home.

Our souls will sing to God all our days
For She is great (repeat)

Vast is the sea
So alive with your creatures
Whales are swimming
Swarming fish all jumping

Spirit come,
Heal our home.

Renew the earth,
Come send your spirit now
And heal somehow (repeat x 4)

Spirit come,
Heal our home.
Spirit come,
Heal our home.

Our souls will sing to God all our day
For She is great.

© 2020 Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), dneu@hers.com