Week of 11/14-11/19: On Praise, Air, Sacred Stories, and Festivals

Each Sunday we offer a brief summary of the meditations from the previous week as a kind of “index” inviting you to return to a previous meditation which may call to you.

November 14, 2022. Peter Gabel: His Writings, Part III.
Peter Gabel, cofounder of Tikkun magazine, wrote about politics, justice, compassion and reinventing his legal profession. He urged us to embrace spiritual activism and to “think with our hearts.” He called for a “respiritualization of every part of our world.” His loving and wise presence will be missed in the world.

Praise—a joyful part of faith traditions. Photo by Adeyemi Emmanuel Abebayo on Unsplash

November 15, 2022. In Praise of Praise.
Quoting various mystics and poets, we explore the importance of praise, which is part of all faith traditions and which, along with joy, helps us get through the challenging times. We are reminded that praise is intrinsic to the Via Positiva.

November 17, 2022. Let Us Praise the Air, Part II.
Scientists tell us that the air and Earth’s atmosphere is very complex and also very fragile. In fact, “we live inside a precariously thin shell of air, far less thick proportionally than the skin on an apple.”  We are cautioned that the opposite of praising air is taking it for granted, polluting it, poisoning it, killing it. Let’s be grateful for our air and keep it sacred so that we all may live.

“The Thin Blue Line” is a photo taken from the International Space Station. Astronauts, when interviewed by Frank White, marvel at the “striking thinness of the atmosphere.” Photo by NASA – NASA Image of the Day, Public Domain.

November 18, 2022. A Festival of Faiths: Sacred Stories.
Matthew Fox shares about his experiences at the yearly Festival of Faiths, held in Kentucky. The title this year was “Sacred Stories: Contemplation and Connection.” Matthew asked that the giant puppets representing Earth, Air, Fire, and Water–and created by UCS graduate Mary Plaster–be on the stage with him during the morning rituals that he led. Matthew was also heartened by the great energy of younger activists dedicated to social justice. They beautifully exemplify the phrase “Hope is a verb with the sleeves rolled up.”

The four element puppets were created by mixed-media artist Mary Plaster in collaboration with an array of community members for the 2013 Unitarian Universalist General Assembly. They debuted at the Energy for Change Rally on June 21st and were displayed recently at the Festival of Faith in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Mark A. Steiner, used with permission.

November 19, 2022. Yeats on Celebration, Praise, and Festivity.
We reflect on these beautiful words from Yeats:

We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blessed by everything
Everything we look upon is blessed.

We also reflect on the many opportunities we have to celebrate through festivities. Truly this is all about joy and Original Blessing.

Banner image: Holy festival. Photo by bhupesh pal on Unsplash

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2 thoughts on “Week of 11/14-11/19: On Praise, Air, Sacred Stories, and Festivals”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    This weekend I have chosen to write on our DM for November 19, 2022. And here we begin with a reflection on these beautiful words from the poet William Butler Yeats:
    We must laugh and we must sing,
    We are blessed by everything
    Everything we look upon is blessed.
    Matthew pointed out to us that there is a “must,” built in to Yeats’ observation to sing and laugh. “Laughter and singing is not just fun, it is necessary. From them derive the energy to keep up the struggle in hard times and good times. Moreover, everything we encounter is blessing us, not just the positive experiences but the negative ones too.” Then Matthew goes on to say, “We have been considering Air and how Air is an original blessing worthy of our regular praise. Along with Earth, Fire and Water.” Interestingly enough, Yeats was a member of a mystical order called, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn–and the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water were used in their rituals. In this meditation, Matthew also shared his love for the phrase, “Festival of Faiths.” So he asked us, “What other Festivals are we deserving of and needy for?” And he then listed a number of suggestions: Festivals of cuisine / Festivals of clothing & costumes / Festivals of languages / Festivals of music / Festivals of rituals & liturgies* / Festivals of funerals / Festivals of marriage ceremonies / Festivals of Lights (in my town they have a Festival of Lights parade in December) / Festivals of saints / Festivals of humor / Festivals of life. (Merton says “Life is a festival”) / Festivals of animals / Festivals of children / and more. Paying attention is key, as Mary Oliver insists. It is our basic prayer–for gratitude is such that we have to pay attention, to allow gratitude to return and to flow among us. “If the only prayer you say in your entire life is ‘Thank you,’ that would suffice”–Meister Eckhart.
    *See my book: LITURGIES OF THE EARTH. This has eight celebrations for the Solstices, Equinoxes, and the Celtic quarter days!

  2. Avatar

    I am taken with the concept of spiritual activism, as all that we do for others has at its base the knowledge that we are all truly one, beloved and blessed. And we must laugh and sing out our gratitude for all of life’s blessings.

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