Meditation and Poetry
"You are the Holiday Miracle" by Gwen Matthews was offered on Monday, November 30, 2020 by Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore:
As December opens up before us, we welcome in the gift of reflection. We turn toward our holiday celebrations and search for common threads of meaning. We begin with Yule, the winter solstice, and we are invited to explore duality, cycles, and seasons, and to witness the Holly King being overcome by the Oak King. Yule reminds us that we all partake in the miracle of renewal. Hanukkah, the festival of lights, commemorates a time of miracles when the faith of the Jewish people sustained them to reclaim that holy temple and keep the light of the menorah burning for 8 nights. Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ humble birth in a manger, offers us a time to revisit the miracle of birth and the desire to find saviors to heal the scars of humanity. Here, in our congregation, you are just as much a holiday miracle as the turning of the earth, as persistence and dedication to a faith, as the creation of each new life. We see the love you give to others, the space you create to hold one another’s joys and sorrows, and the generosity and spirit you entrust to this community. You are the holiday miracle. This community is one of miracle-makers.
In this month of Thanksgiving, we continue to listen and learn from the words and wisdom of the Native Peoples of this land. The Rev. Dr. Natalie Fenimore shares words from the Tewa Indians of North America:
O our Mother the Earth, O our Father the sky,
Your children are we, and with tired backs we bring you the gifts you love...
In this season of Thanksgiving, we welcome with gratitude the wisdom of the first peoples of this land. The Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore shares "Earth Teach Me," words Ute Nation of North America.
Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone.
In this season of Thanksgiving, we welcome with gratitude the wisdom of the first peoples of this land. The Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore shares "Beauty is Before Me," words from the Navajo Indians of North America.
Beauty is before me, and
Beauty behind me, above me and below me hovers the beautiful.
In this season of Thanksgiving, we welcome with gratitude the wisdom of the first peoples of this land.
The Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore shares the words of Black Elk – "The Sacred Hoop"
Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all,
And round beneath me was the whole hoop of the world.
And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell
And I understood more than I saw.
For I was seeing in the sacred manner the shape of all things of the spirit.
And the shapes as they must live together like one being.
And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that make one circle,
wide as daylight and starlight.
And in the center grew one mighty flowering tree
To shelter all the children of one mother and one father.
And I saw that it was holy.
In this season, many faiths and cultures turn their thoughts to spirits, to the ancestors. We wonder, how do we receive the knowledge and wisdom which they offer us?
"Materializing," by Jean Olson, presented by the Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore.
UU minister Marta Valentin invites our ancestors into this time and space to give us perspective and strength.
"We Call Into Our Presence This Hour," by Rev. Marta Valentin (adapted)
We call into our presence this hour our ancestors whose love, labor, and commitment made it possible for us to be here now. Let us call one another to the table of abundance that we may feed on those fruits that sustain us and ever ask us to grow. Let us open to this moment with hearts that have no borders.
Shared by the Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore
This Rig Veda text speaks of our hope for harmony and community. The Rig Veda is ancient Hindu religious text of praise knowledge and hymns.
Let us be united,
Let us speak in harmony,
Let our minds apprehend alike,
Common be our prayer;
Common be the end of our assembly;
Common be our resolution;
Common be our deliberations,
Alike be our feelings;
United be our hearts;
Common be our intentions;
Perfect be our unity.
Offered by Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore
Derek Walcott offers a poetic examination of being at home with yourself in "Love After Love," shared by the Rev. Dr. Natalie Fenimore.
"Love After Love" by Derek Walcott
The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror, and each will smile at the other’s welcome. And say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was your self. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes. Peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life.
"The Season of Forgiveness," presented by the Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore.
We welcome Yom Kippur and the Jewish High Holy Days with these words by the Rev. Leslie Takahashi.
"The Season of Forgiveness" by Rev. Leslie Takahashi
We return again and again to the season of forgiveness and each time we come, we come bearing gifts – a grudge to relinquish, a hatred to extinguish, a hope that has bloated and distorted, a glancing word that has wounded. Each time we walk the road towards forgiveness, we mutter that we have been here before. When will we remember that forgiveness is not so much an act as an attitude, not so much a duty as a love w give ourselves as part of the ever-unfolding new beginning.
"Samburu Kenyan Prayer," presented by the Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore.
There are so many reasons to look to nature in this season: the West needs the rains to help end the fires, the South in weary of the flooding rains. In this Samburu Kenyan Prayer rains signifies abundance and life-giving:
Samburu Prayer, Kenya (adapted):
May the Spirit raise you up above everything. Spread out like water of a lake.
Be abundance that never ends, that never changes. Be like a mountain, be like a camel,
Be like a cloud – a cloud that brings rain always.
"Traditional Hindu Prayer" translated by Rev. Abhi Janamanchi and shared by the Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore. Rev. Abhi Janamanchi is Senior Minister at to Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church.
May good befall all.
May there be peace for all.
May all be fit for excellence.
May all experience the holy.
May all be happy.
May all be healthy.
May all experience what is good.
May no one suffer.
"Street Sweeper," presented by the Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore
These are the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King for Labor Day: “All Labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."
Isaye Barnwell of the revered African American women's a cappella group, Sweet Honey In The Rock, wrote "We Are."
"Sorrow will one day turn to joy.
All that breaks the heart and oppresses the soul will one day
Give place to peace and understanding and everyone will be free."
These words of hope and encouragement are presented by Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore.
It is hard and we are tired, but these words from Nancy Wood ask us to hold on. "Hold on to What is Good" presented by the Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore.
"Go Your Ways" by John Brigham, presented by Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore
Unitarian Universalists value the search for truth and meaning. Asking questions and being open to new learning can lead us forward.
"Waiting" by UU Minister Marta Valentin, presented by Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore
Do you feel that you are on the margins? Are you longing to be in the center of community? Know that in the precious “tiny space “ between us there is a place to draw each other in – so much is possible there.
Today's meditation in poetry is "Each Day" by Kristen Harper, shared by Rev. Dr. Natalie Fenimore.
“Each Day” by Kristen Harper appears in Voices from the Margins: An Anthology of Meditations (Boston: Skinner House Books, 2012; Jacqui James and Mark D. Morrison-Reed, eds.).
Today's meditation in poetry is a prayer from the late UU minister Orlanda Brugnola, shared by Rev. Dr. Natalie Fenimore.
Rev. Fenimore wrote, "We will make mistakes along the way – try to remember that this is our common struggle."
"When We Pause to Remember" Unitarian Universalist minister, Alicia Forde, asks us to answer the call of love. Embrace our ability to be explorers and learners, to bring hope and healing to the world. Presented by Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore
A moment with The Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore.
In this time of virus lockdown, so much is out of our control – but we can take the time to remember, to reflect on the life of our community. We can “take a moment to… hear our stories, hear and see each other…”
The Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore wrote, "The Rev. Lewis McGee (1893-1979) was one of the first African American Unitarian ministers and a Civil Rights activist."
Rev. Fenimore is the Minister for Lifespan Religious Education at Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock (UUCSR).
These are the words of Nelson Mandela, freedom fighter and President of South Africa. Many look to the process of protest for freedom and the later truth and reconciliation process in as a model for justice-making to be studied. by Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore
A few weeks ago, Chris Cooper, a Black man was bird-watching in Central Park. He asked a White woman to follow the rules and put a leash on her dog. She called the police and said an African-American man was threatening her. He wasn’t. Chris Cooper videoed their encounter. In that video, we see a White woman willing to “call the police” on a Black man and risk escalating a situation to possible violence – so that she could “win” a trivial argument. She didn’t win, because of the video. How many other times was there a different outcome? Chris Cooper’s sister, Melody Cooper, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times.
Imagine giving yourself permission for a lazy – and observant – summer day.
Presented by Rev. Natalie M. Fenimore "What happens to a dream deferred?" In 1951, Langston Hughes, the “Bard of Harlem,” wrote about the possible consequences of the American deferred for Black Americans. And his question is, still painfully, with us today.
The late Irish poet and priest, John O’Donohue, deeply rooted in the Celtic spiritual tradition, presents blessing as a way of life, a lens through which the whole world is transformed.
Kabir Daswas a 15th-century Indian mystic poet and saint. His early life was in a Muslim family, but he was strongly influenced by his teacher, the Hindu bhakti leader Ramananda. Kabir is known for being critical of both Hinduism and Islam, stating followers of both were misguided by the Vedas and Quran, and questioning their meaningless rites of initiation such as the sacred thread and circumcision respectively. During his lifetime, he was threatened by both Hindus and Muslims for his views. When he died, both Hindus and Muslims he had inspired claimed him as theirs. Kabir suggested that Truth, which he often called Raam, is with the person who is on the path of righteousness, considered all creatures on earth as his own self, and who is passively detached from the affairs of the world. To know the Truth, suggested Kabir, drop the "I" or the ego. (adapted from Wikipedia)
The UU minister Jonipher Kwong offers this prayer. Calling us all – from all the corners of the Earth – to proclaim the wondrous love of the Spirit of Life. In these troubled times may we remember that love must be our response and we must not be silent. Just listen to the nightly cheers for hospital workers and first responders happening all over the world.
The Rev. Fenimore has been the Minister of Lifespan Religious Education, at Shelter Rock since called in 2013, after having served Unitarian Universalist congregations in Maryland and Virginia as Minister of Religious Education and Parish Minister. She holds the Doctor of Ministry and a Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary and an MA from Hood College. She is a Credentialed Religious Educator, Master’s Level.
On April 20, 2020, Rev. Dr. Fenimore wrote, "What are you grateful for? What are the ways that you finding to show gratitude? Do you have a gratitude practice? One family in our congregation exchanges calls each evening where they say one thing that they were grateful for that day. This was their practice before this time of social isolation but it would be a good practice now as well. "
April 13, 2020: Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore offers these words of reflection by The Rev. Dr. Jane Rzepka. This Easter Monday in the Christian tradition, a time to rest and reflect after the Easter Sunday Celebration. We also continue Passover. UUCSR will hold its virtual Seder together on Wednesday, April 15 (information on www.uucsr.org). Our community continues to stay connected and we encourage everyone to reach out to support each other.
Langston Hughes, “In Time of Silver Rain”
In time of silver rain the earth puts forth new life again, Green grasses grow and flowers lift their heads, and over all the plain the wonder spreads Of life, Of life, Of life. In time of silver rain the butterflies silken wings to catch a rainbow cry and trees put forth new leaves to sing in joy beneath the sky. When spring and life are new.
In my zoom check-in calls with a friend, I was reminded to get my face out of the screen and look outside – spring is out there. And so I have found a comfy chair where I can look up from my many, many zoom calls and see an outrageously, extravagantly, life affirming tree in bloom. But in truth the zoom calls and phone calls that we exchanging are also outrageously, extravagantly, life affirming…our community is in bloom right now – yes, other things are happening that are sad and scary – AND look at the ways we our community of faith is blooming…
"This is How We Are Called," by Kimberly Beyer-Nelson is from "How We Are Called: A Meditative Anthology." The Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore wrote, "Take a moment to consider that we are still connected to the rhythm of the natural world. The birds are returning to be with us. The flowers bloom. We can cup our hands and hold this peace…"
The Rev. Dr. Natalie M. Fenimore recorded a reading of her own titled, “We Are Called,” from the published UUA Meditation Manual: Voices from the Margins edited by Jacqui James and Mark Morrison-Reed.