Our first friendship gathering was filled with lively conversations, storytelling and laughs, and a spread of snacks and beverages. We had so much fun hanging out that we barely had time for the games and puzzles! There’s always next time. We meet on Wednesdays in the church parlor from 10:30am – 12noon once a month. Upcoming dates are: November 9th and December 14th. Please join us – the more the merrier!
Posted in Adult Enrichment
A return to weekly walking prayer is one of the many “back to normal” blessings experienced by our church members this fall. Alternating between the path at Walden Pond and the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail path in West Concord, the prayer walkers enjoy a time of sharing followed by a walk in nature that is meant to connect us more deeply with God and one another. Both paths allow for short or longer walks, and for those who prefer something a little more stationary, the Labyrinth in the Welcome Garden at church is also an option.
Walking Prayer meets every Monday morning @ 9:30 a.m. in person as weather permits. In case of inclement weather, we also now have a Zoom option – a silver lining left over from more intense pandemic days. Newcomers are always welcome! If you’re interested, please be sure to email email@example.com to get on the weekly mailing list.
Enjoy these throwback pictures of walking prayer throughout the seasons…
Spring is finally here and the walking prayer group is enjoying Walden Pond once again. We meet on Monday mornings @ 9:30am for sharing and a blessing, followed by a walking meditation. Newcomers are always welcome! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
This week’s blessing:
All is quiet on the [path] this early [May] morning.
Forsythia cry out their colors while the mist still enfolds them.
The [pond] has nary a ripple and the trees stand silently.
Only bird songs break the bonds of the tranquil breath of dawn.
Inside of me it is quiet.
No forsythia are blooming there, but I feel the aura of stillness and the beauty of calm waters.
It has been so long since silence rested her wings in my heart.
The earth has gathered me in her arms, rocking all my weariness to sleep.
Months of running and stumbling are lain down beside the wooded path;
I lift only beauty of the present moment, and when I place it in my heart
all my life looks differently to me.
— Joyce Rupp, Star in my Heart
WCUC’s walking prayer group has resumed its in-person meetings on Monday mornings beginning at 9:30am. Alternating weeks between the Welcome Garden and Walden Pond, this is a group of fellow travelers who come together to share life’s challenges and celebrations, enjoy the company of friends, and walk in nature to absorb the beauty of creation and listen for God’s guidance.
Quaker author and activist, Parker Palmer, writes:
“When the world’s heartbreak threatens to take me down, it helps if I can remember that this is not the only world to which I belong. Like every human being, I have “dual citizenship.”
I’m not talking about another country, or a world we create with wishful thinking. I mean the vast and very real world of nature that stretches from our bodies to all the life around us, then to the stars, and on to the immensity we call the cosmos. I mean a natural world so vast that we can never do the harm we have done on earth.
Remembering my “dual citizenship” is not an effort to evade the world of human heartbreak. By understanding that I belong to a cosmos that has seen it all, embraced it all, and folded all of it into what is, I have a better chance to “see life steadily and see it whole”.
When I can look at life that way, I’m better able to engage creatively with the here and now, neither crushed by a sense of inadequacy nor lost in fantasy.
Rooted in the serenity of that cosmic reality, return to the heartbreak of everyday life to contribute whatever you can to healing and peace.”
Scenes from our walk this week:
Newcomers are always welcome! Please email Joyce DeGreeff (email@example.com) for more information.
Beloved Is Where We Begin
If you would enter into the wilderness,
do not begin without a blessing.
Do not leave without hearing who you are:
named by the One
who has traveled this path before you.
Do not go without letting it echo in your ears,
and if you find it is hard to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what this journey is for.
I cannot promise this blessing will free you
from the scorching of sun
or the fall of the night.
But I can tell you that on this path
there will be help.
I can tell you that on this way
there will be rest.
I can tell you that you will know
the strange graces that come to our aid
only on a road such as this,
that fly to meet us
bearing comfort and strength,
that come alongside us
for no other cause than to lean themselves toward our ear
and with their curious insistence, whisper our name:
March 14, 1860, “Walden Ice Melted,” from the journal of Henry David Thoreau
“As I stand there, I see some dark ripples already drop and sweep over the surface of the pond, as they will ere long over Ripple Lake and other pools in the wood. No sooner has the ice of Walden melted than the wind begins to play in dark ripples over the surface of the virgin water. It is affecting to see nature so tender, however old, and wearing none of the wrinkles of age. Ice dissolved is the next moment as perfect water as if it had been melted a million years. To see that which was lately so hard and immovable now so soft and impressible! What if our moods could dissolve thus completely? It seems as if it must rejoice in its own newly acquired fluidity, as it affects the beholder with joy.”
God of the March winds, blow over us and play in ripples over what is beginning to melt inside of us. Dissolve what has been glacial, and sweep tenderness into our frozen hopes, softness into our brittle moods, fluidity into our spirits, joy into our hearts. We have lived for so long with this winter in our souls. Promise what is essential has not gotten lost; gone underneath the surface, perhaps, but still strong currents, rushing rivers, living waters deep and running, waiting for spring. Amen.
- Rev. Andrea Castner Wyatt, at the time (2002), Assoc. Pastor, First Congregational Church, UCC, Holliston, MA
Epiphany is a good time to ponder where we are in our journey. As we travel into this year, where do you find yourself on the path? Have you been traveling more by intention or by reacting to what’s come your way? What direction do you feel drawn to go in during the coming weeks and months? Is there anything you need to let go of—or to find—in order to take the next step? In the coming months, what gift do you most need to offer, that only you can give? (Paraphrased from Jan Richardson’s Painted Prayerbook)
Blessings and traveling mercies to you from the Walden Walkers on this Epiphany day. We look forward to walking with you in 2020 – in body, in Spirit, and in prayer.
For Those Who Have Far to Travel
An Epiphany Blessing
If you could see
the journey whole
you might never
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
as it comes into
There is nothing
but to go
and by our going
take the vows
the pilgrim takes:
to be faithful to
the next step;
to rely on more
than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star
that only you
to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond what would
from the way.
There are vows
that only you
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
you could not
Keep them, break them,
make them again:
each promise becomes
part of the path;
each choice creates
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel
to offer the gift
the gift that only you
before turning to go
*Jan Richardson, Painted Prayerbook
As temperatures drop and daylight hours become shorter in these cold winter months, the prayer walkers remain determined to keep coming together to share, to walk, to pray, and to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation in the company of one another.
For all who could use a little more warmth and light in their lives right now, this blessing is for you:
Blessing for the Longest Night
All throughout these months
as the shadows
this blessing has been
It has practiced
walking in the dark,
its eyes closed,
feeling its way
by the pull of the moon
even as it wanes.
So believe me
when I tell you
this blessing will
even if you
have not light enough
to read it;
it will find you
even though you cannot
see it coming.
You will know
the moment of its
by your release
of the breath
you have held
of the clenching
in your hands,
of the clutch
around your heart;
of the darkness
that had drawn itself
does not mean
to take the night away
but it knows
its hidden roads,
knows the resting spots
along the path,
knows what it means
in the company
of a friend.
this blessing comes,
take its hand.
Set out on the road
you cannot see.
This is the night
when you can trust
that any direction
you will be walking
toward the dawn.
from The Cure for Sorrow
As we walked together on this holiday Monday, we were mindful of the Native Americans who lived and cultivated this beautiful land in Concord far before European settlers arrived here. Until the early 1600’s, the land was originally inhabited by the Pennacook Indians (a Wampanoag tribe) who named the area “Musketaquid”, which is an Algonquin word for “grassy plain.” The Pennacook cleared and cultivated the fertile lands, growing beans, corn, squash, and pumpkins, hunted in the fields and forests, and fished in the Concord and Merrimack rivers. One of the first tribes to encounter European colonists, the Pennacook were decimated by infectious diseases unwittingly carried by the newcomers. (www.historyofmassachusetts.org)
Today we celebrate the people who first called this land home. We remember the struggles and tragedies they endured. We honor their place in and contributions to the shared story of America.
This morning we met on the beach to share gratefulness for our summer adventures, sadness for the challenges and losses in our lives, and hope for what this new year might bring. We were especially mindful of the loss of our dear friend Rhonney Doll and walked with her family, Jim and Emily, in our hearts. We began with a blessing written by Jan Richardson, in her book The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief :
Blessing for the Brokenhearted
There is no remedy for love but to love more. – Henry David Thoreau
Let us agree
that we will not say the breaking
makes us stronger or that it is better to have this pain than to have done without this love.
Let us promise we will not
tell ourselves time will heal the wound, when every day our waking opens it anew.
Perhaps for now it can be enough to simply marvel at the mystery
of how a heart
can go on beating,
as if it were made for precisely this—
as if it knows
the only cure for love is more of it,
as if it sees
the heart’s sole remedy for breaking
is to love still,
as if it trusts that its own persistent pulse is the rhythm of a blessing we cannot begin to fathom but will save us nonetheless.
(This is the first of two posts I’ll be sharing about my recent professional development trip.)
Last week, thanks to the support of the Dennis Lin Fund, I had the privilege of attending the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability, an initiative by the Collaborative on Faith and Disability. Now in its tenth year, the Summer Institute is considered one of the premier conferences in the field of disability and faith, drawing religious leaders and scholars from all over the world. I was one of over 150 professionals who spent four days discussing the best ways of ensuring people with disabilities experience a true sense of Belonging whenever we participate in religious practice and community, not just access.
The highlight of the conference for me was the amazing people I met. At the Institute, people with disabilities are not just a topic of discussion, we are also the planners, the presenters, and the attendees. That’s not to say ableism was absent. I saw plenty of instances when ableism reared its head. No doubt there were others I missed due to my unconscious bias. But the level of awareness and the number of accommodations put in place to serve a wide variety of abilities made it clear that the desire for full inclusion was also present.
I could go on and on about the myriad of resources I have returned with but I won’t do that here. Suffice it to say that my suitcase was five pounds heavier than when I left (see photo evidence). I look forward to sharing them with you in the days and months ahead and God-willing some of my new friends will visit us at WCUC.