Please enjoy the recording from the Friday Meditation class this week.
Here is the meditation we shared in our Vespers service this week. Join us for Vespers at 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday.
Our streets are empty and yet our hearts are full. Full of worries and anxieties, real-life concerns and imagined predicaments. Our calendars are altered and yet our uncertainty seems to make appointment after appointment. Our choices are restricted and we may long for what we cannot do. And yet our inner freedoms remain: to count our gratitudes daily and even hourly, to take note and celebrate small acts of goodness, to remember that we belong to one another, to think of and act for those most fragile to these dangerous winds of change. Thus we choose the contents of our own hearts and the groundings of our own beings.
So we affirm and offer this:
Name your fears. Hold them and keep them company. Thank them for warning of dangers. Love them and give them pets and pampering. Do not insist they hide in the dark corners of your heart to live and grow only in shame and isolation. Teach them manners and draw boundaries. Tell them in a gentle and firm tone which sides of the lines are theirs to inhabit. In this way, your fears will calm and settle, will move over and make room for the peace and comfort, joy and thanksgiving which will enliven your being. You can prepare your heart with the intention of love.
We have begun 2020 with a lot of bang! Our volunteers have been amazing, stepping up despite busy schedules and making things go. Services have been well-attended and filled with great music. Community time after services have been abuzz and we are excited to have the energy of new members and a steady stream of visitors.
We continue to provide leadership to our county and to the national world of Unitarian Universalism. In January alone we hosted the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County’s Welcome Our Witness event, the Faith In Action East Bay Clergy lunch and ordained our own Jim Lewis (that’s Rev. Jim Lewis now! Hooray!)
We care and love one another. We have been saddened by the deaths of many within our community’s embrace and also the illness of others. And when people reach out, others are responding, providing care and celebration of one another.
We are learning and growing together through classes on our history, through Sunday Salon discussions and the new Wednesday minister’s class which is focused on new ways of thinking about what we believe.
We are spreading restorative practices through Breath and Spirit and vespers, journaling, forest bathing, and other healing techniques.
And we are working for justice. The new Climate Action Committee has been holding educational events. Our Sanctuary Team has continued to support our guest (and is now able to offer short and discreet ways to volunteer) and we are preparing to house Winter Nights, just to pick out a few activities.
So much to take in and to relish and so much for which I am grateful. Much to improve and continue to work on. Let’s keep it going, together.
With gratitude, Leslie
This week so many of those I interacted with spoke to the frenetic pace and heaviness of this month. Here is a meditation from our vespers service to lighten your spirits:
O world of small cares and large heartbreaks, endless lists and unreachable goals let me stop and hold a moment for the chiming voice of the sacred. Let me listen to its tones and let them call me back to my deepest loves and my clearest aspirations. And then let me touch that wholeness from whence all things holy spring. O teeming life with all its resurrections and tiny deaths, with its true threats and meaningless diversions, help me to be present to the small winged creatures of joy and the constellations of beauty that can frame the most ordinary of days and give them angelic voice. O day of limited hours and infinite duties, help me be present to you and all that you give and in doing so, let me be present to my own heart.
Pray for the power to notice and the discipline to pay attention. Exalt the power of every day and the comfort of the routine. Praise what makes you more yourself and give it a name secret to your own heart. In this place, in the quiet of these holding dark nights, know your own power for connection and healing. All that you need is in your own self and in the connections among us all.
As this new year and decade dawn, I find myself in a more contemplative place than usual. This is a place and a time in which it seems both especially important to have a renewal of intentions and also a time in which it seems important to set realistic expectations. The truth is every day and every hour we have the chance to make decisions, though we may not be the ones setting the overall frame. Somethings we CAN change and some we cannot and yet what we can control is how we approach the lot we are given in life.
So, yes, intentions matter—and so does attention. Attention to the small beauties which abound in this life. On the first day of this year, while I was walking with one of my four-leggeds, I noticed this flower on the sidewalk. Down the street was a bush from whence it probably came. I was struck by the beauty it revealed, there on the plainness of the sidewalk and all the possibility it masked. Was the flower plucked in a moment of fancy as a gift to another or perhaps as a gift to self in a moment when some uplift was needed? Was this bloom particularly beautiful or did it just seem so against the drabness of the concrete? And how was my life made just a little better because my eyes caught sight of this little gift? For me these are the questions of this new year and this new decade: how can we see what is before us and find the beauty within it and how can we allow our spirits to be renewed by the beauty that is there.
May this new year be one in which you offer best intentions—and best attention—and may your life be richer as a result.