Earlier this summer we invited congregants to share their thoughts as part of a Tuesday email message or a Wednesday or Friday video message. Janet Luongo chose to share, this week: thank you, Janet!
Carrie McEvoy’s creative sermon on Sunday August 8 stays on my mind. A longtime TUCW member, and Intern Minister at the Community Church in Manhattan, Carrie led our congregation into contemplation as she invited us to follow her on a virtual walk through a local forest. “Growing Roots,” she called her journey, coaxing us to pay attention to the sounds and sensations emanating from trees and streams, rocks and birds, reminding me of wise ones who found the divine revealed in nature.
I’m a fan of poets and naturalists, often quoted by Unitarian Universalists, that include St. Francis, Thomas Merton, Henry Thoreau, Wendell Berry and our “UU patron saint,” Mary Oliver, and I have long followed their urgings to find healing in the woods.
As Carrie suggested: I begin my private and group meditations paying attention to sights; then with closed eyes noticing sounds, smells, tastes, and the touch on the body of air, ground or cushion. Earlier that morning our meditation group had imagined “growing roots” from the bottom of bare feet, sinking into the soil softened by gentle rain, breathing in Mother Nature’s nourishing bounty and beauty and, as gravity pulls us to her breast, feeling a sense of belonging.
When we feel grounded in our senses, and allow slowing of breath and heartbeat, we open a gateway to inner awareness. In deep relaxation we may notice the mind, like a still lake, reflect the light and insight of the sky. In our busy world, which can seem flipped upside down, this mindfulness is a skill worth developing. Many of us felt inspired by Carrie’s call to observe natural details nearby in forests and by the Sound. For seekers, our congregation offers many resources:
Follow up with the book Carrie suggested, Be Here Now, and Eckhart Tolle’s, The Power of Now, which is discussed Wednesdays evenings at our church, led by Bob Bevacqua. Also on Wednesday evening, a course on religion as the intersection of science and mysticism is led by Marjorie Partch and Bart Stuck. Jamie Forbes and Gian Morresi lead a regular TUCW hiking group. TUCWomen are offering meditation at a retreat on October 9. Buddhist meditation is offered by Nina Nagy, and I offer Sunday 9 AM guided visualization and silence. To learn more, check SOUNDINGS, uuwestport.org, or email me: Janet Luongo. Mostly, give yourself some love and make time to breathe in the wonder of nature.