A Thanksgiving Message & Reminder from CSCNovember 2014

January 16-18, 2015

 

Awake in the Dark with the Black Madonna

Prayers and Meditations for Thriving in the Night

 

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Green With Gratitude

by Sid Hall

 

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, perhaps because it is generally reserved for family or close friends sharing a meal together. This intimate ritual of carving turkey with those we treasure most always leaves me with a deep sense of letting go. And that pause creates the necessary space for gratitude. Thanksgiving provides the opportunity to echo the ancient hymn of divinity, to look around at all that is and say, "It is very good."

 

Years ago, as a camp counselor for pre-teen youth, I led a group of kids to present an enactment of gratitude for Creation. As we sat on logs, struggling to brainstorm, a 5th grade girl said, "We should do the Good Samaritan parable." I was puzzled and asked her, "What does that story have to do with gratitude for Creation?" She jumped up with a big smile on her face and said, "Everything!" Then she explained that instead of a person lying bleeding on the side of the road, it is the Earth lying there covered in plastic, broken pieces of Styrofoam, and discarded trash. She went on to explain that one of the people who walks by is a religious person who says that she has more important spiritual matters to attend to. Another is a recycling manufacturer who says that he is already doing enough and doesn't have time to deal with trash on the side of the road. The Samaritan in this story is a group of children who, because they are little and close to the ground themselves, know what it is like be connected to the Earth. The children picked up the Earth and dressed its wounds, exemplifying what it means to have gratitude for Creation. This little girl's skit is something I have never forgotten.

 

A long-standing Thanksgiving tradition in my own family is to gather around the table, hold hands, and briefly state something for which we are thankful. Some years it is a harder exercise than others, particularly if there have been difficult times, or a death in the family, but the anticipation of the ritual requires each one of us to ponder what it means to be thankful even when gratitude doesn't come easily.

 

What would happen if we expanded that circle beyond our dinner tables to encircle instead the local community, Mother Earth, or even the Cosmos? What would we celebrate? Would we understand better our need to manifest that which we're grateful for ourselves-through recycling, through committing to use renewable energy, through growing our own vegetables or supporting local organic farming, through reducing our carbon footprint in some small way? Hildegard of Bingen wrote, "We are greening with life, we bear the fruit for all creation, limitless love, from the depths to the stars, flooding all, loving all." The Earth isn't an object we till and keep; the Earth is us. When we green ourselves, we impact the Earth. To be green with gratitude means taking delight in small, measured actions that pick the Earth up from the side of the road and tend to its needs.

 

This Thanksgiving, I invite you to join me in exploring what it means to hold hands around the circle of the Cosmos and give thanks for the beautiful green Earth that birthed us, that is us, and that we create ourselves as part of its regenerating love. Creation Spirituality is the daring commitment to recognize the sacred in the profane and beauty in the universe in even the smallest of things.

 

I am indebted to the ideas of Starhawk, who poignantly grasps what it means for us to join in this greening dance of gratitude. She writes, "...When I say Goddess I am not talking about a being somewhere outside of this world, nor am I proposing a new belief system. I am talking about choosing an attitude: choosing to take this living world, the people and creatures on it, as the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, to see the world, the earth, and our lives as sacred."

 

Sid Hall is the senior minister of Trinity United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas, where he has served since 1988. Trinity is a congregation dedicated to radical inclusiveness and has been committed to Creation Spirituality since the early 1990s. Sid is the author of "Christian Anti-Semitism and Paul's Theology" (Fortress Press, 1993) and co-author of the forthcoming book "Three Mystics Walk Into A Tavern: A Once and Future Meeting of Rumi, Meister Eckhart, and Moses de Le´┐Żn in Medieval Venice" (University Press/Hamilton Books, April 2015).

  

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Clark Strand is a spiritual writer and former Zen Buddhist monk who previously served as senior editor of the magazine "Tricycle: The Buddhist Review". He is the author of the books "Waking the Buddha," "How to Believe in God: Whether You Believe in Religion or Not," "Meditation Without Gurus," and "Seeds From a Birch Tree: Writing Haiku and the Spiritual Journey." His next book, "Waking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age," will be published in April 2015. That book lays the groundwork for recovering an ancient practice, once universal among Homo sapiens, of waking to pray or meditate in the night. Clark is the founder of Way of the Rose, a non-sectarian fellowship devoted to saying the rosary as a universal spiritual practice, a way of prayer and meditation unaffiliated with any single religious group.

 

Susan Coppage Evans worked as a psychotherapist and executive of psychiatric facilities. She currently serves as a Board member and consultant helping treatment centers provide world-class care for patients.   She founded WholeHearted, Inc., to offer a variety of services that create opportunities for individual transformation - via healthcare facilities and in supporting personal and spiritual growth through retreats and pilgrimages.  Susan has facilitated well-received retreats nationally with Matthew Fox and Rabbi Zalman Schachter and other notable colleagues. In 2013 she led a "Birthing Visions" pilgrimage to Bingen, Germany to study and celebrate the life of Saint Hildegard and help participants birth their own visions. In 2015 she is leading a pilgrimage to Belgium to study the Beguines and explore the inspiration the Middle Ages holds for community building. Susan completed her Doctor of Ministry Degree from University of Creation Spirituality. In 2006 she worked with Rev. Matthew Fox and colleagues to create Creation Spirituality Communities.

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About Creation Spirituality Communities
Vision For Creation Spirituality Communities (CSC): A network of communities ranging from intentional groups to alternative churches, which are grounded in the tenets of Creation Spirituality and revere the sacredness of all creation. Through study, ritual, celebration and action, these communities support justice, compassion, transformation and sustainability for the Universe and for all living beings.

Mission of CSC: To provide training, resources, support, guidance, structure and encouragement for the development of Creation Spirituality communities. To honor the core values of Creation Spirituality. To act as a networking vehicle for individuals who seek to join others in the study and practice of Creation Spirituality. To provide opportunities that honor creation and cultivate the mystic, prophet and artist in all people.

Creation Spirituality Communities, Inc.,
4669 Guy Hill Road
Golden CO 80403