When Lyla, one of our Community Ministers, read Psalm 104 as our Ancient Testimony this morning, I was really drawn to verses 19-20:
You have made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows its time for setting.
You make darkness, and it is night;
when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.
If we experienced the Earth as an expression of God’s many aspects, would we be more likely to treat it differently? If we looked at the moon and saw an opportunity for us to pause, to rest, to finish our work and get in touch with spirit and each other, would we welcome the darkness instead of (as I so often do) treating it as the gateway to another day for which we’re just not ready?
And if we looked at the composting and recycling bins as opportunities for reflection on how we manage our (ever-growing) footprints on creation, would we be more mindful of how we sort our trash?
Micah’s message today sat in the fulcrum between the prophetic and the quotidian, in a way that led us all to yet another Lenten paradox: because Earth is an expression of the divine, and because we have to live our prodigal and broken lives within it, we have to take every step we can to honor it. We have to recognize the contemporary equivalents of the Cuyahoga River Fire and do more than watch it burn. This is often difficult because, as he noted, “There is no consistent human face attached to the climate crisis”; that is, it will come for those already most vulnerable to being nameless and faceless (the poor, the indigenous) before it eventually comes for us all.
It’s one of the harder messages to hear (but, as Micah reminded us this morning, it’s definitely still Lent). Just a few days ago I flew to Florida and back because I could, because I wanted to, and while I don’t do that on the regular, it probably left more of a footprint than I really would have liked. (You can look into carbon offsets to assuage your own guilt, as I’m doing right now, if you are ever so inclined.)
To switch gears a bit, church today also made me wonder if I can accept darkness more broadly—fallowness, grief, abandonment—as an opportunity to see moons I don’t always get to see. In the darkness of loss, we look for friends and kinship; in the darkness of confusion, we look for wisdom; in the darkness of emptiness, we look for fulfillment. Because I specialize in shame-based anxiety, I experience these emotions all too often as further evidence of my insufficiency, sloth, or awkwardness. What if I looked at these emotions as their own gifts from God, pointing me towards the other gifts I don’t need to somehow obtain but have had all along?
Maybe it was all this talk of darkness that inspired so many folks to stand up and ask for prayer today (and for Suzanne to remind us again to use the bins correctly), so many of us asking for the grace and strength to see the moons we need to see. Ruby sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” a song I’ve probably heard or sung a hundred times or more since childhood, as only he could, and again I heard something new.
It’s dark now. I’ve been writing for a few hours, processing all the art and spirituality I’ve had the great fortune to sit beside and inside in the past few days. I have to go back to work tomorrow after my extra-long weekend. It’s time for me to go looking for the moon of renewal and recommitment, and to trust that the sun knows its time for setting, and rising again.