Midweek Musings, August 24, 2023

Dear Friend,

Did you know that there is a word in Arabic for the amount of water that can be held in one hand? I came across it in a book called Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders. She writes, “sure, this sounds like quite a vague measurement, but when you’re building a castle on the beach and you’ve decided to create a defensive moat around the king’s quarters, this word suddenly makes a lot of sense.”

I love that. It also feels like a perfect description of these last days of summer before school begins again. I find myself willing to sleep in a little longer, lay in bed with my kids a few extra minutes in the morning watching silly animal videos on Instagram that make us giggle; I’m less insistent that they get in bed by a certain time if they’re out playing with neighbors as the twilight wanes. I noticed last night that it was already getting quite dark at 8:00 and it made me sad. The evening light feels like water slipping through my hands. And yet, I know that not too long from now it will be almost dark at 4:00. And then summer will come again and we’ll get another chance.

I hope you are enjoying these final heydays of summer, whether school is looming for your household or not. Before we know it, snow will be falling and we will wonder if summer even happened (or perhaps that is just me).

Summer blessings,
Pastor Sarah

something Worth reading

As a Rabbi, I’ve Had a Privileged View of the Human Condition

by Rabbi David Wolpe

When we were visiting my parents a couple of weeks ago, my mom gave me a copy of this editorial that she had printed out to share with me. My mom often shares good articles and books, but this one I found particularly poignant. The title captured me right away, as privileged is the word I most frequently think of in relationship to being a pastor, and the entire article resonated, but these are the paragraphs that I feel confident I will come back to again and again because they name so concisely the force of good religious institutions can be in our society and in our individual lives—the things we do in worship that we don’t do anywhere else, but that shape who we are as individuals and as a community:

“I have had a privileged view of the human condition, and the essential place of religion on that hard road. Sometimes it seems, for those outside of faith communities, that religion is simply about a set of beliefs to which one assents. But I know that from the inside it is about relationships and shared vision. Where else do people sing together week after week? Where else does the past come alive to remind us how much has been learned before the sliver of time we are granted in this world?

“I know the percentage of those who not only call themselves religious but also find themselves in religious communities declines each year. The cost of this ebbing of social cohesion is multifaceted. At the most basic, it tears away at the social fabric. Many charities rely solely on religious institutions. People in churches and synagogues and mosques reliably contribute more to charities — religious and nonreligious — than their secular counterparts do. The disunity that plagues us in each political cycle is also partly because of a loss of shared moral purpose which people once found each week in the pews.”

Read the full article here.

something worth hearing

Pub Choir Sings Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty

Pub Choir

Videos like these seem to just radiate joy—the looks on the faces of the people singing, the fact that such beautiful music can be created when so many people are willing to join their voices together. It feels like the world needs more of this.

something worth watching

This Is Me – Cover

Shoshana Bean Featuring Travis Wall

I love the work of Travis Wall (both his choreography and his dancing) and I find this video particularly powerful.

something worth praying

A Prayer for a Heavy World

Kaitlin Curtice

O God,
this morning when we woke to your presence in and around us,
we also woke to a heavy world,
and in this world, we can’t make sense of all the things
that are wrong and should be made right.
We cannot fathom that people are judged on the color of their skin,
that lives are worth less because their pockets are empty,
that violence is an everyday occurrence,
and it seems that no place is safe.
So when we wake to the sunrise and know that you are still good,
teach us what it means to seek goodness when the world is dark.

O God,
teach us what it means to live in grace — not just for ourselves,
but for the collective whole.
We have been individuals for far too long,
and in that individualism, we’ve forgotten how to hold each other.
We need to return again to a love that holds together community —
A love based on the way we belong to each other,
the practice of Ubuntu, a return to our wholeness
based on compassion toward others.
And in that returning, we find that you are always bringing us back,
Not to a world in which we do not see color or class,
but into a world in which we see it and believe that
sacred love is the imprint on everyone and everything, anyway.

O God,
in a heavy world, we need to remember that we belong to each other,
And in that remembering, that we belong to you.
Teach us.
Teach us because the future depends on it.
Remind us, we pray.

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