On this mundane
when the same sun
shines in my window
and the same birds
sing their same songs
from the same trees,
I gently wake to this new day
I've never lived before
and give thanks.
- Wendy Janzen
Wherever you find yourself this month, take time to notice how or where God shows up. Last month I discovered a lovely children's book called Sometimes I Feel Like a River, by Danielle Daniel and Josée Bisaillon. It inspired me to ask the question of myself, 'what in nature do I feel like today?' It then inspired me to dig further, and see if the same metaphor could apply to God. I offer these questions to you this month as a spiritual practice.
Take time this month to go for a mindful walk outdoors and see what draws your attention. Using your imagination, complete the sentence 'sometimes I feel like...' (a river, the sky, a snail...). Next, do it again with this variation 'sometimes God/Spirit feels like...'
What insights arise? How does creation mirror things about who you are or who God is? Consider recording your reflections your in a journal, maybe turn it into a poem, draw/paint a picture, or express your insights through body movement.
Here is a sample that I wrote (and you can find another in the previous post).
Sometimes, I feel like a lake,
deep, wide, full.
I can hold it all,
I ride the waves,
I feel buoyant,
I dive deep.
Sometimes, God feels like a lake,
deep, wide, full.
God holds mystery,
crashes and churns with
shimmers with wonder,
is fluid and calm.
I can only see a part of
the whole of God.
Sometimes, I feel like the sky,
open, light, and vast.
At times, I am clear;
I see the big picture
and hold things lightly.
At times, all seems clouded,
heavy to the point of bursting
and I shed tears
that fall to the earth.
Sometimes, God feels like the sky,
open, light, and vast.
At times, beautiful, inviting,
approachable like a sunset.
At times, thundering,
and I watch from a safe distance.
close and far,
Our June gathering offered opportunity to reflect on the summer solstice - the sun’s pause, and on the sun’s fire. With forest fires raging across Canada this month how are we feeling?
At this point in the year, we celebrate the sun's strength, heat, light and energy. Due to this, the season of summer is often associated with the element of fire. Fire has been on my mind a lot this month, and for many of us that felt heavy, especially when smoke filled our skies and affected our air quality earlier in the month.
Fire can be devastatingly destructive, and fire can be beneficial. Wildfires have always been a natural part of healthy forest ecosystems. In natural cycles, fire releases nutrients for the soil, opens the canopy, and cracks opens seeds of certain trees that require heat to germinate. It is only since the advent of clear cutting, fire suppression, and climate change that extreme fires have become so destructive.
As we approach the season of summer, I invite us to reflect on fire - its benefits and its harm. And as we remember how fire has destroyed vast sections of forest, I want to share these words paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 12:26 - If one part suffers, all suffer together; and if one part rejoices, all rejoice together.
We are all one body - us and the earth, the forest, the water, the air. We are all interconnected and all part of each other in a web of belonging.
Take time to pause and reflect on the impacts of the sun, fire, and light on our lives, and on the earth. Hold the paradoxes of hope and despair, of brokenness and beauty, of suffering and rejoicing. What are you seeing, feeling, hearing, thinking? What is this place sharing with you today? Where is God showing up?
Our May worship gathering invited us to reflect on the hospitality we receive from God and from the Earth, and how we offer hospitality in return as an act of reciprocity.
As part of the readings & reflections time, the following was shared by Leah Bowman:
Robin Wall Kimmerer speaks in her book Braiding Sweetgrass about reciprocity; the idea that there should be a give and take between humans and non humans. She sometimes refers to this idea as the Honorable Harvest, where you only take what you need. For far too long, humans have been doing a whole lot of taking; too much taking; taking to the point of extinction; taking to the point of resource depletion; taking to the point, as some may say, of no return.
I'd like to read a couple of quotes from Braiding Sweetgrass where Robin reflects on this concept to get us thinking about this idea.
“...all flourishing is mutual. We need the berries and the berries need us. Their gifts multiply by our care for them, and dwindle from our neglect. We are bound in a covenant of reciprocity, a pact of mutual responsibility to sustain those who sustain us.” (p 382)
“The moral covenant of reciprocity calls us to honor our responsibilities for all we have been given, for all that we have taken. It’s our turn now, long overdue. … Whatever our gift, we are called to give it and to dance for the renewal of the world. In return for the privilege of breath.” (p 384)
Today we want to reflect on what it means to engage in reciprocity and hospitality with the earth & beings that are other than us. What does it mean to be neighborly to the earth and other beings? The Voice translation of the golden rule in Luke 6:31 reads: "Think of the kindness you wish others would show you; do the same for them.” What does it look like to extend Jesus' invitation to both our human and our more-than-human neighbours? How do you show kindness to all beings?
How do you see reciprocity & hospitality happening in this place, at this moment right before you? What are the ways that you are currently engaging in reciprocity and hospitality in your life, with your little corner of the world? Are there things that you are currently doing or wish to do that would foster a spirit of reciprocity & hospitality?
At the end of our gathering we each took a little handful of black-oil sunflower seeds and left them behind somewhere as a symbolic act of reciprocity.
This weekend we spent some time cleaning up trash at Bechtel Park, our regular site for worship gatherings. The park is thankfully kept pretty clean in general, but we did find a mix of trash and recyclable items that we cleaned up.
After the cleanup we talked for a bit about single-use plastic, and its impact on the environment. We reflected on two verses:
Romans 7:15 "Listen, I can't explain my actions. Here's why: I am not able to do the things I want; and at the same time, I do the things I despise." (The Voice)
Genesis 1:22 "Be fruitful and multiply" - a blessing given to the birds of the air and the fish of the sea, before the same blessing was offered to humans.
How does our addiction to plastic prevent the rest of creation from flourishing according to God's blessing for them?
To see a fuller Bible study & discussion guide Wendy created, along with an art & music video project on single-use plastics created by Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, follow this link.
For fresh buds on trees,
tender green shoots,
birds returning and nesting,
We give thanks.
Our hearts, too,
are opening, blossoming,
dancing and singing
praise for life,
for colour, fertility,
birth and rebirth!
God, thank you for this morning.
May I be as joyful and enthusiastic as Robins.
May I enter into this day
with anticipation and energy like Cardinals.
Provide me with what
I need, just as you do for House Sparrows,
and let me trust that is enough.
I praise you together with my
beloved neighbours whose voices I hear this day:
Mourning Doves, Northern Flickers, Canada Geese,
Red-winged Blackbirds, Crows, and Goldfinches.
We gathered on Easter morning at twilight - the time between the two lights. The moon was setting behind us as we gathered on the east-facing slope awaiting the rising sun. The dawn chorus of birds provided music for our prelude.
Our text was John 20:1-18. Step Chandler Burns, of Pastors in Exile, shared these words before we spend time 'wandering and wondering' and watching for the sunrise.
"This morning, like every new day, Christ is alive among us. Each day, God is doing a new thing and inviting us to bring our faith and our questions and enter into the new life being made among us.
So this morning, and all mornings, believe the gospel. The Good News is that new life is possible. Seek the new thing God is doing, whether you understand it or not.
Resurrection is here and happening among us every day: the sun rises, the snow melts, the animals and birds sing to the morning, the cold gives way to the sun, the cycles of life and death keep moving. People heal and reconcile and learn and grow. Relationships mend, we’re made new. Even when we don’t want to be. Even when we’re not at our best, even when we’re hungry, angry, lonely and tired. Or when we don’t understand quite yet.
This morning, you’re invited to take in the morning. Listen to the birds and the animals, the waking of the earth. Take in the new life, resurrection among us. And believe, or question it. Jesus will meet you there. May it be so."
What ways are you experiencing resurrection? Where are you seeing signs of new life? Whether we believe easily, or are skeptical, Christ meets us in sunrises and in rain, in honking geese and songbirds, in our day to day lives.
A haiku written for Good Friday
O Forsaken One,
You know the depths of sorrow.
We sit with you now.
I see Good Friday pain, death, and sorrow mirrored everywhere... I saw this stump on a walk this week and the image caught me with its starkness. What have you seen that feels forsaken? Christ, the Incarnate One, is here in the world with us, in places of pain and woundedness.
The invitation today is to witness it and sit with it.
Reflections, poetry, prayers, photos, and resources written by Wendy Janzen unless otherwise noted.