We celebrated Earth Day by focusing on trees.
Pamela Weil donated a beautiful River Birch. Don Snook, recently retired Westport tree warden, Jamie Forbes and her friend Marcie, planted it along the walk leading to the under side entrance.
We planned to end the service by going to the tree to dedicate it, but the heavy rain kept us indoors. So I asked the congregation, ‘What would you like to say to our new tree?’ What wonderful responses: ‘Grow now in peace’ was my favorite, since it was a play on the words we sing to our children when they leave the sanctuary to return to their classes after the first part of the family services: “Go now in peace.”
Other things that were said to the tree included, “reach for the sky; welcome to our home; hold fast in the wind; share your beauty; enjoy the birds that sit in you; keep growing; endure.” Those are some that stand out as I reflect on Sunday’s service.
Did you know that this coming Sunday, April 30, is Arbor Day in Connecticut? The state tree is the White Oak, and we have a wonderful specimen on the top of our memorial garden area. Don tells me it’s about 200 years old.
When our wonderful White Oak was beginning its life, Thomas Jefferson was in the White House (1801 – 1809. During his years in the White House Jefferson extracted portions of the Gospels and pasted them into a collection he called ‘The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.’ We call it the Jefferson Bible.
Jefferson and others of his era planted our Unitarian faith in soil of freedom in American. It’s nice to know that our White Oak began to grow at that time. Jefferson’s Bible emphasizes the need to assume responsibility for one’s actions. The bottom line is, ‘Your religion is the way you live your life.’
Our Green Sanctuary committee made a presentation, asking us to be ‘the greenest generation.’ “Green,” Elaine said, “is the new red, white and blue.” It’s patriotic to be energy conscious.
As I was preparing a sermon for our earth-day celebration I got a note from Barbara Fast reminding me that it was exactly sixteen years ago when she first got into the pulpit, on my invitation. She did a sermon emphasizing the need for us to assume responsibility for the care of our mother earth. Now she’s in the midst of her candidating week in E. Greenwich, RI, where she’ll be assuming responsibility for the pulpit and all the responsibilities that go with it.
Sacrifice is needed, and it must be voluntary. The word sacrifice shares the root of the word sacred. I’m reminded of the line in a William Wordsworth poem: “That best portion of a good man’s life, His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.”
Take care of yourself — and find ways to take care of the earth, too.