November 2020 WATERritual

Deep Peace of the Changing Seasons to You

By Diann L. Neu and Anali North Martin

Listen to the audio of our November 2020 WATERritual here.

 

Preparation

Place candles, matches/lighter, earth/compost, and fall leaves within reach.

 

Welcome and Call to Gather

Light a candle.

Deep peace… Deep peace of the changing seasons to you! Tonight, we come together to reflect on changes — changes after the US elections, but more profoundly, changes in nature and in ourselves. As the seasons change, leaves falling in autumn in the Northern hemisphere and blossoms opening in spring in the Southern hemisphere, the world turns — and so do we. We focus this liturgy on spiritual transitions, inviting us to connect to our religious past and sacred future. We will give thanks for the insights we have received along our journey and look at what grounds us as we change.

Our interest in this autumn / spring season of transition is to look at our spirituality, what centers us as we move through the cycle. For many of us, the “faith of our fathers” is not the faith of our future, nor is the faith of our ancestors really ours either: patriarchal religions and romanticized matriarchies do not fully satisfy us. But what replaces all of this? What is the real content of calling ourselves feminists of faith, women-church, a discipleship of equals, an inclusive faith community? Are there certain things we can say and do together that give spiritual shape to the movement and spiritual grounding to our lives?

This ritual is a time and a place to be safe, to be confident that regardless of our changes the divine love which holds us all will prevail. Let us center ourselves to celebrate “Deep Peace of Changing Seasons to You.”

 

Song: “Deep Peace” as sung by Libana

Deep peace of the running wave to you

Deep peace of the flowing air to you

Deep peace of the quiet Earth to you

Deep peace of the shining stars to you

Deep peace of the gentle night to you

Moon and stars pour their healing light on you

 

Reading:

“The Spiritual, Political Journey” by Emily Culpepper, from After Patriarchy, eds. Cooey, Eakin, McDaniel, ©1987.

Show a pot of compost, surrounded by fall leaves. (Diann)

We were discussing the issue of connection to one’s religious past. Knowing I no longer identified as Christian, one of the women asked, “But you do draw on it in some ways still, don’t you? Would you speak of it as your roots?” I paused, searching for words. That phrase has never felt quite right to me. From the root springs the tree; they are a continuous growth. The ecology of my spiritual life is more complex than that, with moments of radical discontinuity and continuity. “Compost,” I heard myself say. And again, with an increasing sense of satisfaction that at last I had found the apt metaphor, “Compost. My Christianity has become compost.” It has decayed and died, becoming a mix of animate and inanimate, stinking rot and released nutrients. Humus. Fertilizer. The part of organic life cycles with which everyone gets uncomfortable and skips over in the rush to rhapsodize growth and progress and blossoms and fruition and rebirth. But in between is the dark, rich mysterious stage, when life decomposes into soil. It is a sacred time — like the dark no-moon new-moon in my meditations, that liminal stage and dangerous essential passage between the last slender waning crescent and the first shred of a shining waxing new one. Compost. A pile of organic substance transforming into a ground, a matrix into which we must mix other elements for the next seeds to sprout. Other vital forces must wet and warm the matrix. And additional deaths, so inevitable in changing/living, will need to feed this ground. Humus. It is from this that we are named, human, to acknowledge our connection to the Earth, the place where we stand in the vast living universe. If our traditions and symbols are truly part of living, then they are organic and will have rhythms of living and dying.

Chant: Deep peace of the quiet Earth to you (chime)

 

Quiet Reflection

Take a few minutes to reflect silently: How do you describe your connection to your religious past, to your spiritual future? What are you letting go of or releasing? What are you grieving separation from? What gives you life?

 

Reading:

“Mother Corn” from No Turning Back by Hopi teacher Polingaysi Qoyawayma, (poh-LING-neye-shee koh-YAH-why-mah) as recorded in Daughters of the Earth by Carolyn Niethammer, ©1977.

Mother Corn has fed you as she has fed all Hopi people, since the long, long ago when she was no longer than my thumb. Mother Corn is the promise of food and life. I grind with gratitude for the richness of our harvest, not with cross feelings of working too hard. As I kneel at my grinding stone, I bow my head in prayer, thanking the great forces for provision. I have received much. I am willing to give much in return, for as I have taught you, there must always be a giving back for what one receives.

Chant: Deep peace of the shining stars to you (chime)

 

Quiet Reflection

Take a few minutes to reflect silently: What have you received spiritually for which you are grateful? And what will you give back?
 

Shared Reflection

Let us share with one another a glimpse of our reflections. What thoughts do you have from the readings? If you wish, type a sentence into the chat. Sharing
 

Prayer of Remembrance

This is the season when the veil between the worlds of here and hereafter is very thin. For the November feasts of All Saints Day, All Souls Day, and Samhain, WATER invited us to remember in our prayers the deceased ancestors, family, friends, and colleagues of our community. Now we will have a chance to pray for these loved ones.

Silent Prayer

With music by Elizabeth Ursic: “Cello Lullaby” and “Gratitude” (Sacred Space Music, 2020)

Let us extend our hands, palms up, as we say: Eternal rest grant unto them, Divine Holy One, Sophia Wisdom. May they rest in Beauty and Glory forever.

 

Greeting of Peace

From Return Blessings by Diann L. Neu, Pilgrim Press, 2002.

Peace of the flowing stream be yours,

Water flowing, cleansing and healing.

May you be refreshed.

Peace of the flowing stream be yours.

 

Peace of the gentle breeze be yours,

Winds blowing, stirring, cooling,

May you breathe deeply.

Peace of the gentle breeze be yours.

 

Peace of the fertile Earth be yours,

Land giving life to diverse creatures.

May you walk on firm ground.

Peace of the fertile Earth be yours.

 

Peace of the twinkling stars be yours,

Lights shining, sparkling, beaming,

May your journey be filled with wonder.

Peace of the twinkling stars be yours.

 

Take Action

  • It is close to Thanksgiving here in the US, and we invite you to deconstruct the myths you hold surrounding the US’ tradition and foundation of Thanksgiving, as well as the general history of colonial powers’ relationship with and oppression and genocide of indigenous peoples.
  • Give thanks for those who have positively influenced your spiritual and moral life — write them a thank you card or letter, give them a call, say a prayer for them, make a donation in their honor.
  • Take a nap; sit in silence; listen to your favorite music or read your favorite poem; give yourself a moment to breathe and recollect yourself.

Sending Forth

Filled with this deep peace of the changing seasons, let us go forth to bring peace and healing to a weary world.

 

Closing Song

“Sing a Gentle Love Song” by Kathy Sherman

Sing a gentle love song, sing to Earth,

Fill the air with music for her healing.

Then be still and you will hear

Her love song forever sung to you.

 

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