Wednesday Messages from Rev. Brooks
Messages are prerecorded by Rev. Jaye Brooks, available at 2:00 PM and thereafter here, on the UUCSR YouTube channel and Facebook.
Rosh Hashanah, which begins Friday, September 18, 2020, is the Jewish celebration of creation. Yet as we anticipate this celebration of life on Earth, wildfires burn unchecked on the West coast. In today’s Message, Rev. Jaye Brooks shares a Wendell Berry poem that invites us to assess humanity’s role in the damage to our planet’s climate, “Massachusetts Avenue at Rock Creek Park.”
Today’s message from Rev. Jaye Brooks is an excerpt called “Human” from a longer essay by Margaret Renkl. The entire essay was published on August 31, 2020 as an Op-Ed in the NY Times; it’s titled “Hawk. Lizard. Mole. Human.” Margaret Renkl, who contributes a weekly essay to the NY Times, is also the author of a book called Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss. Margaret often writes about the wildlife she sees around her and connects the natural world to her own life. In this essay, she reflects on what she sees in her own backyard—and encourages us to see ourselves in a different way.
"Poison Ivy," the poem, is from Love Like Thunder, a book of meditations by UU poet Jess Reynolds. Throughout the book there are poems that use a variety of images, genders, and activities to explore the idea of God. The picture that emerges is very different from stereotypical conceptions of God. In “Poison Ivy,” God is male—but not much else matches the stereotype. as poets often do, Jess Reynolds challenges us to reconsider our own ideas about God (no matter whether we believe in God or not).
Today's Message is in the form of music, excerpted from the July 5, 2020 virtual Worship Service presented by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock: "Answer Now To Life," Music by B. Elder; Lyrics by Rev. Jaye Brooks. Performed by the UUCSR Choir, Stephen Michael Smith, Music Director
Rev. Jaye Brooks offers as today’s Message, “My Heart Has Become Capable” by the 12th century Sufi poet Ibn Arabi. He lived in the Islamic city of Murcia, located in what is now Spain. Ibn Arabai was born in 1165 on the 17th day of Ramadam. This poem expresses his understanding of the way he grew spiritually and in understanding. It’s also an invocation to tolerance and love.
The Rev. Jaye Brooks shares with us a poem called A Riff, written by UU minister the Rev. Mark D. Morrison-Reed. It is from a meditation anthology by Mark D. Morrison-Reed and Jacqui James titled "Voices from the Margins."
The Universe sings to itself, wrote Rev. Brooks, in her poem "Calling." Rev. Jennifer Brooks (Rev. Jaye Brooks) is Developmental Minister at Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock (UUCSR), where she focuses on congregational areas that lie at the core of our collective being.
In times of trouble, we humans may feel as if our dreams are “mud-caked“ or that we’re about to fall on our knees in hot, sharp sand. Then comes “This Prayer is for You” with the blessing of a cool stream and a clean deep breath; a promise of singing in harmony with our own most needful songs. Rev. Jaye Brooks shares this poem by Jess Reynolds, from their book Love Like Thunder: Meditations. Jess is a Unitarian Universalist active in the UU Society of Sacramento, California.
During the pause in human activity during pandemic lockdown, the skies cleared and city streets lay empty and quiet. Pollution levels dropped. For the first time in human history, humanity’s harmful impact on our planet became visible simply by stark contrast.
In “Waters of Earth,” a paean to water, the source of all life on Earth, Rev. Jaye Brooks invites Earth’s human inhabitants to take up our role as part of the Earth’s power of renewal. “Our task is to love the Earth, but not merely to love it."
What do you do to demonstrate your love of the Earth?
Rev. Jaye Brooks reads this message, which is an excerpt from the Buddhist monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. The passage, on “Stillness," is from his 2017 book The Art of Living. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that one of the best ways to still a restless mind is to listen to the rain.
Rev. Jaye Brooks wrote, "Independence Day reminds us of the Principles that form the idea of America: people are equal, their rights are inherent, and our government is created by the people to serve the people. These ideas resonate with our UU Principles: the inherent worth of every person; justice, equity, and compassion in human relations; the use of democratic process in our congregations and in the world. These Principles, clearly stated, carry with them an implicit promise that we will act together to make them live vibrantly in our national public life."
Read by Suzanne Viverito, Tina Manko, and Gary Mitchell. The words date back 500 years to the European roots of Unitarian and Universalist values, It combines the thoughts of 16th-century theologian Frances David, the text of one of the first religious freedom proclamations in human history, the 1568 Edict of Torda, and a traditional Hungarian house-blessing that traces back to the early Unitarians of Transylvania. These ideas shaped history. They became our Unitarian Universalist roots. When we use our reason to understand, when we find love in our hearts, when we open our minds to influences beyond what we now know, these roots anchor us—but they do not limit us. Instead they guide us to new ideas, new “revelations,” and new understandings of the issues of the day. Our roots run deep.
Rev. Jaye Brooks reads “Jazz People” by Black American poet Regie Gibson (http://www.regiegibson.com/) The poem is based on the stories he and his daughter Jamila made up when she was little and together they imagined people who chose to be music so they could live in harmony.
Regie Gibson's website describes him as a poet, songwriter, author, workshop facilitator, and educator, who has performed, taught, and lectured at schools, universities, theaters and various other venues on two continents and in seven countries including Havana Cuba. Regie and his work appear in the New Line Cinema film love jones, based largely on events in his life. The poem entitled "Brother to the Night (A Blues for Nina)" appears on the movie soundtrack and is performed by the film's star, Larenz Tate. Regie performed "Hey Nappyhead" in the film with world-renowned percussionist and composer Kahil El Zabar, composer of the score for The Lion King musical.
Kurt Vonnegut said, "Regie, when you perform, you are supersonic and in the stratosphere, where you can see that the Earth really is a ball, moist, blue-green. Regie, you sing and chant for all of us. Nobody gets left out."
The Rev. Jaye Brooks presented this poem by Rev. Angela Herrera following months of quarantine due to COVID-19, and weeks of unrest following the murder of George Floyd.
The Rev. Herrera is Senior Minister at First Unitarian Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.The Rev. Jaye Brooks is Developmental Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, in Manhasset, NY.
The Rev. Jennifer Brooks delivers brief and timely messages weekly on Wednesdays at 2:00 PM on uucsr.org/connect/messages, on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Also on Wednesdays, at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM, all are welcome to join Rev. Jaye in live conversation on Zoom at the twice weekly "Wednesday Conversations."