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Blessing of the Animals

by Rev. Elizabeth A. Lerner
Service at UUCSS on March 18, 2007


Sermon

The author Irving Townsend wrote:

“We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan. “

His words remind us that a large part of what makes us stewards of this small, exquisite planet is that we live longer than most other creatures with whom we share it. We live longer and so we have more time to develop our minds and skills. Each lifetime contributes mightily to the arc of evolution and to the power, awesome and terrible, that we exercise over it all.

His words remind us also that this essential difference in lifetime does not only give us advantages, it also charges us with many responsibilities, not least of which are love and memory. For the animal sighted one stunning moment in the woods, in the air, in the water. For the animal that is a beloved daily, hourly companion, so constant as to be part of us. For the animals known in books, seen in films, animals that are totems, inspirations, symbols, challenges and saviors. All these, all these we carry in us, and then are carried again by them. All this experience, meaning, myth and substance is in us and in them, and brings us to this morning of blessing and gratitude for the creatures with whom we share our lives and our world.

Reading: Our New Pup Alice – from Local Wonders, by Ted Kooser p. 9-11

Meditation: Thaw – from Local Wonders, p. 6-7

Reading: The Electrician Didn’t Like Snakes – from Local Wonders, p. 123-4

The Leaf-Footed Bug – from Local Wonders, p. 124-5

To Be Happy, from Local Wonders, p. 13-14

Benediction: Inspired by St. Francis’ Canticle of the Creatures

Creative Spirit, power that animates all,

To you, source of blessing

our gratitude and gladness.

We have no way, no word, for you.

We cannot compass you, nameless one.

Source of life and beings, grace and mystery.

Still we speak our gratitude.

For all that comes together.

Our Brother Sun, who brings the day;

and gives us light, beautiful, radiant.

Thanks be also for Sister Moon

Her strange cool shining and all she reveals of the night.

and the stars; the heavens, strange, and great, and fair.

All praise for our Brothers Wind and Air,

and Fair and Stormy, all the weather's moods.

All praise for Sister Water,

so useful, humble, precious and pure.

All praise for Brother Fire,

full of power and strength

who brightens the night and warms and cheers the cold.

All praise be for our Sister-Mother Earth,

who sustains us and constrains us,

and produces sweet, strange fruits, rainbows of flowers

herbs for flavor, plants for the healing and succor of bodies.

All praise for the mercy we learn and gain in living

For the strength to endure sickness and trial,

For the grace of peace.

By such gifts are all people crowned.

We give thanks for the many living things

That share and grace this planet.

We pray that we may better learn to share it back

And better honor the ways and wardens of nature.

We give thanks even for our Sister Death,

Which none that lives, escapes.

We grieve for what it gives us of suffering and fear

And rejoice for the lives which mortality makes so precious.

Praise and blessings upon this world

Thanks be for its composition and inhabitants

May we serve it, and them,

With the gratitude and humbleness

their sacred natures deserve.