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Bank Street Unitarian Chapel

Open Hearts Open Minds

Reflections

Minister’s Letter
September's Theme:
Earth

though I have looked everywhere
I can find nothing lowly
in the universe...

A.R. Ammons

A few weeks ago I went to Southport and walked along the beach, feeling the sun and the wind on my skin, and smelling the sea (visible on the horizon). I walked along the sand dunes and then back through the squelching muddy sand. It was exhilarating. It is truly amazing the places you can get to a few rail stops from Bolton. You can reach beautiful countryside and coasts, hills, lakes, mountains, just down the road.

Like many people I find the divine in nature. I experience the world as a temple and fresh air as full of the holy Spirit. This is a universal human experience, but also a distinctly Unitarian spirituality. At least as far back as the American Henry David Thoreau we have seen being in nature as an important part of our spiritual lives. In the summer of 1845 Thoreau started a two year experiment in simple living by living in a small shack next to Walden Pond in the woods of Massachusetts. He wrote about it in his book Walden which is a classic in both science and spirituality. Today we know that spending time in nature, whether out in the woods, or simply in a small garden, is an important spiritual practice.

But an equally important spiritual practice is sacred activism. Nature is going through a massive crisis with impending climate change and only a concerted, massive effort to change our politics and economics will change that. This month we are hosting three series of talks on the climate change crisis, related to science, activism, and faith (see in this Calendar for more details). These are important events in the life of our Chapel, putting our values into action and creating an important conversation here in Bolton. Please support them as much as you can, and invite others. A faith based on love of nature is today needed more than ever.

In peace and love.

Stephen

 

Spiritual Practices of the Month
Sauntering: Take time to wander in nature in an aimless, gentle way. Notice the air, the smells, the life around you. This can be done in the hills or simply in your garden.
Litter picking: Commit to picking up one piece of litter every day this month.
Reduce your carbon footprint: Try using your car less, or eating less meat.

Theme Resources
Books (non-fiction):
Walden by Henry David Thoreau. A classic text, but not necessarily an easy read.
The Ethic of a Reverence for Life by Albert Schweitzer (available online at www.animal-rights-library.com/texts-c/schweitzer01.htm) An ethics essay from the early twentieth century that has influenced many.
The Greening of Christianity by Lloyd Geering. Booklet exploring ecological Christianity.
Laudato Si': On Care for our Common Home by Pope Francis. A key text from the Roman Catholic Pope on the need for response to the ecological crisis.
Film (documentaries):
Chasing Ice (2012) Follow National Geographic photographer James Balog across the Arctic as he deploys time-lapse cameras designed for one purpose: to capture a multi-year record of the world's changing glaciers.
An Inconvenient Truth (2006). Al Gore's lecture on climate change.
Film (for children):
Fern Gully - The Last Rainforest (1992). The Fern Gully rainforest is endangered. Only Chrysta, a little fairy can save this magical world from the evil Hexxus.

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