April 2019 WATERritual

Listen to the Cries for Justice

By Diann L. Neu and the WATER Staff

Listen to the voices of people weeping.
Calling out the messages of the Earth and sea
Telling us what we need to know in order to be free.
Listen to the voices of people weeping.
– Holly Near

People are crying for justice. Earth is crying for justice. Animals are crying for justice. The violence of these times calls us to listen, to pay attention to these cries, and to step into the pool for healing. Most major religions set aside a time for fasting and asking forgiveness. Each group takes time to reflect and repent, not as an extra burden or negativity, but as a normal part of the life cycle.

This liturgy invites us to listen to why many are weeping and crying for justice. They challenge us to create communities of struggle who will address the injustice that is causing the tears.   

Preparation

Gather a candle (for South), wind chimes and a feather (for East), a pot of soil or compost (for North), a bowl and a pitcher of water (for West), a rain stick, a towel, and 12 candles. Invite one person to cantor the chant, another to play the rain stick, a third to voice the question, and a fourth to light the candles. Ask several people to be ready to name why they weep.  (There is a part in the script for this.)

Call to Gather

Today we gather to “Listen to the Cries for Justice.” This liturgy offers us two challenges: first, to notice each others’ tears and pay attention to why many are weeping; second, to wipe away one another’s tears and build communities of struggle to overcome the reasons for crying and bring healing.

Naming the Circle

Let us share our name and speak aloud a cry for justice that we hear today. 

Invocation of the Spirits

We call upon the Spirits of the South, East, North, and West to be with us as we listen to women, men, and children weeping, and commit ourselves to live in the best of struggles.

Face each of the four directions and invoke each Spirit.

Facing South, light a candle and proclaim:

O Wisdom of the South, you who are Fire,

Warm our hurting spirits and open us to reconciliation with ourselves.

Be with us as we listen to the cries for justice from the South.

Facing East, play wind chimes with a feather and proclaim:

O Wisdom of the East, you who are Air,

Empower us with your rising sun to breathe in and out again.

Be with us as we listen to the cries for justice from the East.

Facing North, put soil or compost in a pot and proclaim:

O Wisdom of the North, you who are Earth,

Strengthen us to move beyond what is cold and harsh in life.

Be with us as we listen to the cries for justice from the North.

Facing West, pour water from a pitcher into a bowl and proclaim:

O Wisdom of the West, you who are Water,

Refresh us with the power of the sea that we may be angry

And heal from the hurts and pains that have been done to us.

Be with us as we listen to the cries for justice from the West.

Lamentations for Justice

Chant: “Voices,” by Holly Near, from Singing for Our Lives, ©1981, adapted.

Listen to the voices of people weeping.  (Echo)

Calling out the messages of the Earth and sea

Telling us what we need to know in order to be free.

Listen to the voices of people weeping.  (Echo)

Rain Stick: (Play to evoke the sound of weeping)

Voice: Mother, why are you weeping?

Lament 1.  I weep because I am an immigrant mother who is threatened with being deported and loosing my children. Be with me.

 All Respond: Mother, we notice your tears and we struggle with you.

Candle Lighting (One person lights a candle to honor the woman who is weeping.)

Chant: “Voices”     

Rain Stick: (Play like weeping)

Voice: Brother, why are you weeping?

Lament 2. I weep because I am a survivor of clergy sexual abuse. Be with me.

All Respond: Brother, we notice your tears and we struggle with you.

Candle Lighting (One person lights a candle to honor the person who is weeping.)

Chant: “Voices”     

Rain Stick: (Play like weeping)

Voice: Sister, why are you weeping?

Lament 3. I weep because my child died in the war. Be with me.

All Respond: Sister, we notice your tears and we struggle with you.

Candle Lighting (One person lights a candle to honor the woman who is weeping.)

(Continue in this way with the Chant, Rain Stick, Voice, Lament, Response, and Candle Lighting framing each Lament.)

Lament 4. I  weep because my friend is homeless and lives on the streets in fear. Be with me.

Lament 5. I weep because my partner is living with HIV/AIDS. Be with me.

Lament 6.  I weep because I am living with cancer. Be with me.

Lament 7.  I weep because my sister is a survivor of human trafficking. Be with me.

Lament 8.  I weep because my friend’s mother is a survivor of domestic violence. Be with me.

Laments 9 – 12.  Why do you weep? Tell us, that we may struggle with you. (Sharing)

Psalm 69 and 42 from Swallow’s Nest by Marchiene Vroon Rienstra, Eerdmans ©1992.

Save me from drowning in disaster, O God!

I have lost my foothold and am mired in mud.

I am sinking in deep water, overwhelmed by a flood of trouble.

Weeping has worn me out; my throat is dry with sobbing.

My eyes grow dim as I watch for Your help.

Like a deer panting with thirst for flowing streams,

My soul pants with longing for You, El Shaddai.

My heart thirsts for the true and living God.

When will I be able to see Her face?

My tears flow both day and night

While others question the God I seek.

Blessing with Water

All who cry,

Come to the water.

Get your hands wet, and bless yourself, especially your eyes,

with this Source of Life.  (Each blesses with water)

 

Song: “Come Drink Deep,” by Carolyn McDade, from Rain Upon Dry Land, ©1983.

(Sung during the water blessing)

Come drink deep of living waters, without cup bend close to the ground.

Wade with bare feet into troubled waters where the love of life abounds

I turn my head to sky rains falling, wash the wounds of numbness from my soul.

Turn my heart in tides of fierce renewal where love and rage run whole

Come rains of heaven on the dry seed, rains of love on every tortured land.

Roots complacent awaken in compassion, so hope springs in our hands.

Come drink deep.

 

Invocation of the Spirits

O Wisdom of the South, you who are Fire,

Accompany us in the struggles.

O Wisdom of the East, you who are Air,

Accompany us in the struggles.

O Wisdom of the North, you who are Earth,

Accompany us in the struggles.

O Wisdom of the West, you who are Water,

Accompany us in the struggles.

 

Song:  “The Rest of Our Lives,” by Carolyn McDade, from The Best of Struggles, ©1988.

As we sing this song, let us walk around and look in one another’s eyes to seal our commitment to stay in the struggle.

The rest of our lives, my sisters (people), must be lived

In the best of struggles, the best of struggles,

In the best of struggles, our lives must be lived.

If the road should disappear
We’ll shake the dust from our feet
And walk on.  (2x)

Sending Forth

Let us go forth promising to listen to the cries for justice.

Let us echo what we hear one another saying.

May we cry out when we notice injustice. (Echo)

May our cries be heard. (Echo)

May all who are hurting be healed. (Echo)

May we go forth accompanying one another in the struggles. (Echo)

For the rest of our lives. (Echo)

Amen.  (Echo)  Blessed Be.  (Echo)  Let It Be So. (Echo)

Take Action

~ Fast for a day or afternoon to be in solidarity with those who are crying for justice.

~ Comfort someone who is weeping by calling them, sending them a card, or taking them out for tea.

~ Call your Congressperson and tell them to support a particular justice issue.

~ Read the newspaper and pray for someone whose story you read.

Greeting of Peace

Let us greet one another with peace by saying,

“Live in the best of struggles.”

 

Learn More from These Resources

~ The Washington Post, The New York Times, your local paper.

~ Santana, Deborah, Editor. All the Women in My Family Sing: Women Write the World – Essays on Equality, Justice, and Freedom. San Francisco, CA: Nothing But The Truth Publishing, 2018.

© 2019 Diann L. Neu, WATER: Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual, dneu@hers.com