By Mary Porter, Hospice Music Practitioner, Retired Pastor
The Lord has sent me to comfort all who mourn. . . . . I the LORD love justice.. (Isa 61:1-2, 8) Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing, (1 Thess 5:16-17)
Preparation for the in-breaking Christ calls for a BOTH-AND orientation: attention to loss AND hope, mourning AND rejoicing, action AND prayer. My recent learning includes:
• PEC eco-tour and climate change conference in Alaska in early September. Beginning and ending each day in worship (rejoicing) we focused on Signposts of Hope and agreed to immediate concrete actions--using refillable water bottles, eating locally grown and low on the food chain (vegetarian).
• September 21, People’s Climate March. The exuberant, sometimes boisterous activists paused –all 310,000+ of us--for a moment of eerie silence, mourning for those affected by climate change.
• Sidelines of the march. One group remained in silence, legs crossed Eastern style, meditating/praying--holding the psychic space for protesters.
As we work for justice AND pray without ceasing (individually and communally), I suggest another BOTH-AND; that along with our revealed texts of scripture we read (with the help of contemporary science) the texts of creation, what Michael Dowd and others call Big History, the “13.8 billion-year science-based tale of cosmic genesis—from the formation of galaxies and the origin of life to the development of consciousness and culture, and onward…”
Through Big History we learn that we are made of stardust and that we’re related to everything.* What a profound sense of kinship might overcome us with such a reading! (Who is my neighbor?) What awe and reverence might bowl us over! (Oh God, how majestic is your name in all the earth! What are humans that you are mindful of them!) I suggest that such dual reading provides a firm basis for dealing with BOTH the challenges of our times (fossil fuels, water, climate change) AND entering into more intimate communion with God and all that God made and loves.
Prayer: God, who never ceases to awe and amaze, heal us, guide us, use us. Use our failures as compost for the new Earth you are creating. In the name of the Christ in whom all things are created and through whom all things hold together. Amen.
Contributor: Mary McQueen Porter is a retired pastor and a former director/chaplain of Ruth and Naomi Senior Outreach, the non-profit in Birmingham, Alabama, she co-founded. Grandmother, poet, Certified Sage-ing Leader and Certified Music Practitioner, she leads workshops in Conscious Aging and works part-time for VITAS Hospice, playing Celtic harp at the bedside.
*Dowd, Michael. “Evidential Mysticism and the Future of Earth,” in Oneing: An Alternative Orthodoxy, A Publication of the Center for Action and Contemplation, Vol. 2, No. 2 (2014), 18.