Posted in Prayers and Reflections

Walking Prayer Soothes the Soul

  • September 14, 2021

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 (joycedegreeff@gmail.com) for more information.

Sunday Fellowship In-Person on Palm Sunday

  • March 31, 2021

Over the course of three hours, more than fifty members and friends of Sunday Fellowship paraded through the sanctuary visiting prayer stations depicting the last week of Jesus’ life. For most of us, it was the first time we had physically been inside the church since 2020 and it felt good.

One station invited us to add our own figures to the crowd of people watching Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. Another offered each of us our own purple scroll with teachings Jesus might have preached about in the Temple after he chased away the moneychangers. We took home cloth with a drop of fragrant oil and tiny loaves of bread to remind us of the Last Supper. We lit prayer candles, we painted rocks and we walked a palm strewn path up to a cross. What better way to enter holy week than to finally be able to engage in worship with our whole bodies?!

Many thanks to everyone who helped prepare the space and materials for Sunday Fellowship to enjoy. Please enjoy some pictures of the day.

Welcoming Prophets

  • December 9, 2020

Jessica shared a reflection with wisdom from our kids for the second Sunday of Advent:

Finding Joy in Giving

  • November 24, 2020

On November 22nd, several members of WCUC shared their reflections on giving: who taught or inspired them to give, why they give to WCUC, and when giving brings them joy!

Youth Find Respite in Nature

  • November 13, 2020

In trying to take advantage of the gorgeous weather this fall, the youth have enjoyed once a month outings out in nature. After kayaking in September on the Concord river, the group ventured to Acton in October to explore the Nashoba Brook trails. https://trails.actonma.gov/nashoba-brook/

Our next destination was going to be Walden Pond, but too many others had the same thought on that sunny day in November, so we quickly made a Plan B and ended up in the nearby Hapgood Wright Town Forest. https://www.concordma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/2090/Hapgood-Wright-Town-Forest-Trail-Guide

Soon we discovered that sometimes Plan B turns out to be better than Plan A! Walking along the trails we enjoyed several art exhibits, “fairyland pond”, and eventually the “reflection circle” – a beautiful sanctuary of stone benches with carved words of wisdom from various spiritual teachers. It was the perfect place to gather, rest, and reflect before heading home.

We Can Do This Hard Thing

  • March 31, 2020

In these times of physical distancing, it’s more important than ever to find social connection and solidarity. Our youth group is Zooming into connection every Saturday at 4pm, for sharing what’s hard and what helps, playing games, and joining together in mindful meditation. Laughing and breathing together has been a remarkable way to bond and to find some calm in these challenging times.

It also helps to have some recent memories of being together in person. The middle schoolers spent over two hours running around at Boda Borg in Malden, solving mental and physical challenges to successfully complete several rooms. And the high schoolers managed to “escape” their 13th floor apartment room with 6 minutes to spare at Puzzlescape in Hudson. Teamwork was key in both of these outings!

We also enjoyed some outside time at our last youth class. This memory of walking the labyrinth together is one that is keeping hope alive that better days are ahead!

At our most recent Zoom Youth Group meeting, we closed with these words from Carrie Newcomer and then closed our eyes and listened to our own breathing, alone and together. With God and with each other, we can do this hard thing!

Wilderness Blessings in Lent

  • March 9, 2020

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:

Beloved,

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 danger,

from fear,

from hunger

or thirst,

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:

Beloved.

Beloved.

Beloved.

 —Jan Richardson

from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

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.”

Prayer:

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

Christmas Eve Prayers

On Christmas Eve we recorded our hopes, prayers, and longings on strips of paper and placed them in the manger, to make a bed for the baby Jesus. Please join us in our prayers:

  • For peace between all people: understanding, unity, acceptance, togetherness, love, inclusion, equity, bridging of political divisions, healing following colonization and western violence
  • For the healing of our Planet: love for our earth, new advances in renewable energy, conservation, reduced use of materials and energy, honor and respect for ocean life, sustainability
  • For the church: full inclusion of LGBTQI people in all churches
  • For leaders: that they might have peace, respect, wisdom, humility, generosity
  • For our loved ones: their healing, health, safety, comfort, freedom from pain, solace, joy, support, guidance
  • For our own wellbeing: health, happiness, kindness towards others, appreciation of the present moment, forgiveness, peace, joy, new great memories, meeting new people, new adventures, new learning, purpose
  • For all people, all of God’s children: connection, abundant food, all needs met, release from pain, unwavering love and support, God’s welcome, fulfillment of God’s call on their lives, 
  • For new scientific discoveries
  • For a bright and beautiful star

Epiphany Blessing: Home by Another Way

  • January 6, 2020

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
undertake it;
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.

Call it
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
before us,
as it comes into
our keeping
step by
single step.

There is nothing
for it
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
will recognize;

to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond distractions
beyond fatigue
beyond what would
tempt you
from the way.

There are vows
that only you
will know;
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
is revealed
by turns
you could not
have foreseen.

Keep them, break them,
make them again:
each promise becomes
part of the path;
each choice creates
the road
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel

to offer the gift
most needed—
the gift that only you
can give—
before turning to go
home by
another way.

*Jan Richardson, Painted Prayerbook