Worship Script 4
Our Earthly Web of Life
Worship Script (4 of 4)
By Inuit Shaman Uvavnuk
The great sea has set me in motion,
Set me adrift,
Moving me like a weed in a river
The sky and the strong wind
Have moved the spirit inside me
Till I am carried away
Trembling with joy.
HYMN #175 We Celebrate the Web of Life
We Belong to the Earth, Attributed to Chief Noah Sealth
This we know. The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth.
Ths we know. All things re connected like the blood which unites a family.
All things are connect.
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
We did not weave the web of life; We are merely a strand in it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
Adapted from Vaclav Havel
We must divest ourselves of our egotistical anthropocentrism,
Our habit of seeing ourselves as masters of the universe
Who can do whatever occurs to us.
We must discover a new respect for what transcends us:
For the universe, for the earth, for nature, for life, and for reality.
Our respect for other people, other nations, and for others cultures
Can only grow from a humble respect for the cosmic order
And from an awareness that we are a part of it, that we share in it,
And that nothing of what we do is lost,
But rather becomes part of the eternal memory of Being, where it is judged.
HYMN #194 Faith is a Forest
STORY FOR ALL AGES
The Spider and the Very Important Person By Diana Davies, Adapted by Emily DeTar Birt
Narrator: Once upon a time, a Very Important Person was watching a spider weaving her web, and the very important person thought to herself:
VIP: Why in the world did God make spiders? What good are they? They aren’t beautiful or cute. They can’t do tricks. They don’t guard the house or make anything we humans can eat or wear. They don’t sing or make interesting sounds. And those webs they’re always building are just a nuisance!
Narrator: And the little spider overheard her, but she didn’t care. She just kept working on her web.
Soon, though, the Very Important Person was in trouble. Her enemies were out to get her! She had to run and hide! She hid in the deepest, darkest cave she could find, but still she was worried that her enemies would find her.
Just then, she noticed that the little spider had started building a new web at the entrance to the cave. She was afraid to shoo her away, for fear that her enemies might hear, so she just stayed very quiet and watched the spider work. In no time, the cave entrance was completely covered by the web. And it was just in time, because right then, the Very Important Person’s enemies came running up to the cave, but they didn’t go in.
Enemy Leader: Ick! No need to go into that cave. Look at that big spider web. It’s clear no one has been in there in a loooong time.
Narrator: And the Very Important Person realized something very important that day:
Very Important Person: Wow – Spiders are the best!! So what if they’re not beautiful or cute, and can’t do tricks or sing, and can’t guard the house or make things that humans can eat or wear… the spider deserves our kindness and respect, just like all animals!
Narrator: And the spider just shrugged her many little shoulders, and said…
Spider: Eh! Just doing what spiders do… but thanks for noticing.
Narrator: Have you ever looked closely at a spider’s web? Each individual thread is so thin and delicate you can barely see it , but the web itself is incredibly strong And this great, strong web is made by just one, little spider, just doing what spiders do best. What the Very Important Person in our story came to understand is that every being is worthy of respect and kindness. Every being has a precious life to live. Even the littlest spider can save the life of a Very Important Person. Even the littlest spider is Very Important, too.
Bring Us Close to the Earth by Lyn Cox
Spirit of Life,
Ground of our being,
Root of unified mystery
Growing into myriad branches of expression,
Bring us together now.
Bring us close to the earth,
Ear to the whispering grass,
Waiting with slow breaths,
Listening for the very stones to cry out
With their rocky stories of
Tectonic plates meeting and parting meeting
Their mineral memories of
Hadean days, molten rocks flowing and joining
Their ancient legends of
Stars born out of the collapse of other stars
Help us to re-member.
Help us to piece together
Our one-ness with matter,
Our one-ness that matters.
With one more deep breath,
May we rise, star-stuff walking and rolling
Across the surface of an impossible blue-green planet.
May we join together to heal what is divided.
May we find wholeness within, without, among, between.
Eternal Source, Seed of the Universe, help us to grow peace.
So be it. Blessed be. Amen.
CANDLES OF JOY AND CONCERN
Those who are so moved are now invited to come forward to light a candle, expressing a joy or concern in their lives. As you do, you may briefly share what it is. We ask that people coming forward speak for no more than a sentence or two, and speak from the heart about issues in their lives, rather than political issues, which we can take up at coffee hour or in the parking lot.
The Interdependent Web by Lynn Ungar, minister for lifespan learning, Church of the Larger Fellowship
It is, I strongly believe, well worth it to make a direct, intensive study of earth-centered spirituality.
For my part, I’ve spent many hours working in the garden, becoming grounded, as it were, in the earth. I know that the earth in front of my house is veined with tan streaks of clay, which, true to its nature, bakes hard as pottery in the sun. For some reason this seemingly unpalatable dirt is filled with earthworms, some of them as big as pencils, writing their slow story in the ground.
By contrast, the soil in the backyard flower beds is loose, crumbly. Once I have painstakingly retrieved it from the crabgrass and dandelion roots that have been laying claim there, it becomes utterly yielding, and I can dig holes for my new plants like a kid in a sandbox, without even needing a shovel or hand trowel.
I believe in studying earth-centered spirituality, becoming centered in the earth, wrestling with dandelions and crabgrass as Jacob is said to have wrestled with an angel.
Poking about in the dirt is one way of practicing earth-centered spirituality, but I would advocate even beyond that, for earth-centered theology. I find that earth-centered religion provides both the best description of my system of beliefs that I can find, and it provides a constant challenge to live my life in accordance with those beliefs.
As I understand it, earth-centered theology refers, at heart, to a way of mapping out the world. For centuries the western world has operated under the assumption of a map of the universe that became entrenched during the middle ages as the Great Chain of Being. In this worldview the cosmos is seen as vertically linear—God is on top, beneath Him are the angels, all ranked in order, and beneath them are men, then women, and beneath them are animals, then plants, and so on. Everything is neatly in its place, the pope stacked above priests, and lions above lambs, birds above bugs.
Earth-centered traditions, however, see the universe arranged in a web of relationships. All beings stand in relation to all others, whether intimately or distantly, and all of us hold responsibility for those relationships. The divine, in this scheme of the universe, is not a supreme being who is “watching us from a distance,” as the old pop song asserts. Rather, the sacred is nearer than breath, present in all beings, in all moments. The bear carries divinity, but so does the dragonfly and the white pine, granite and sandstone. Each being has its power, its story, each different from the other, all necessary for the balance of the world as a whole.
Unlike the simplicity of the Great Chain of Being (which I picture as sort of a straight hose, through which all power and authority flows from God the Faucet), the world from an earth-centered view is complicated, tangled. In a linear worldview you know who you have control over, and who has control over you. Relationships between men and women (the Great Chain doesn’t really recognize non-binary genders) are “simplified” by clearly declaring the head of the household and the head of society. As a human being, fulfilling your needs is simplified by knowing that the rest of the earth belongs to you as “natural resources” to be utilized in the most efficient or convenient way possible.
Life in an interdependent web is a lot more complicated. It requires of us that we come to know each other beyond the scheme of up and down, mine and not mine. It demands that we learn each other’s stories, see each other’s faces, know each other’s needs and gifts. It declares that the community we inhabit consists not only of our friends and family, but also our environment, the animals, plants and minerals with which our lives are entwined. It reminds us that the threads which connect us, the bonds and the responsibilities of community, reach back into our past and forward to the future we are creating.
And whenever you try to keep that web of connection in mind, the decisions become hard. Say I need lumber to build a house but the spotted owl needs old-growth forest in order to survive. If we are both beings who matter, sharing in one community, participating in the divine, then what now? I eat the flesh of animals who have not only lost their lives to serve as food, but have also spent those lives treated like components in a factory. Do I have the right to be part of that bloody business? The rainforests are being decimated, often by people who are very poor and are doing whatever needs to be done to survive. How do I respond?
These are the kind of questions that an earth-centered spirituality demands we grapple with, questions thorny as blackberries, tenacious as dandelions. Questions without easy answers, which demand of us that we go deeper, look closer.
Honoring the interdependent web means respect for all my relationships, however small, with whatever sort of being. It does not mean, however, that all those relationships are of equal weight. I think of the interdependent web as being built, not as a vast tangle, but more like a spider’s web, a series of concentric circles, connected by spokes that weave through them all. Like any animal, my first allegiance is to my family, my friends, my tribe. I don’t value a mouse or a mosquito the way I value a human being. But acknowledging that my circle of concern radiates out from a center that starts with my family, the human race, does not mean that I can forget those larger circles. The spokes of the web pass all the way through, and when any piece vibrates, like the spider, I feel it.
Living in this web of relationships is not simple or clear-cut. It isn’t always possible to know the right thing to do, let alone to do it. Giving up on the Great Chain of Being means releasing a whole lot of being right. However, it also opens the complicated, tangled, always-shifting possibilities of being in right relationship.
HYMN #298 Wake Now My Senses
Adapted by Gaelic Ruins
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 infinite peace to you.