God among the echiums

 Amidst all the crazy, we gathered in the carpark and paid attention to the presence of God: A prayer.

We stand with each other: We share a common earth.

We share birth and suffering: We share love and death.

The sky opens above us: We receive space.

The earth stands beneath us: We receive ground.

The air swirls around us: We receive breath.

Many things die for us: We receive food.

We too will die: We will return to dust.

We are the people: The people of earth.

Let us care for each other: Let us care for the earth.

Let us worship the creator: Let us attend to the earth.

For the earth is filled with God’s prsence. Our ancestor Jacob woke from his sleep and said: Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it!

And he was afraid and said: How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this, the gate of heaven!

Let us acknowledge this place’s traditional custodians: Let us wake up to this place and its peoples.

Let us wake up to God’s holy presence: Let us attend to the earth, the very dwelling place of God.

This prayer may be used as call and response, with the congregation speaking the words after the colon.

With this prayer, we entered the process of sensio divina: a simple process for paying attention to God’s presence in all creation. You can download the liturgy, including the process of sensio divina, here. It was during our first most-of-us gathering for seven months, outside in the carpark as required by law, and so we thought we’d start with paying attention to the earth, air and garden around us. And so that is what we did! We had no formal reflection; instead, people reflected together on what they had observed during the sensio divina process, including:

  • Deep grief at the dispossession of Aboriginal people from this region of Victoria. The garden includes native hibiscus, which is a symbol of the stolen generations; and we prayed for the stolen generations and acknowledged with pain that some of our houses are built from the stones of Indigenous peoples’ homes.
  • Someone observed the gentle breeze: a sign of the spirit (which word is used to translate ‘breath’ or ‘air-in-movement‘ from the Bible); and they said they had felt this sense of a gentle breeze coming in through an open window as they watched Joe Biden and Kamala Harris give their speeches today.
  • Someone noticed the echium alive with bees. They thought about bees’ interconnected busyness: which reminded them of the interdependence of all things.
  • Someone noticed small lizards on the fence, so shy, and observed how large we are: and how important it is for us to be aware of our body language. We wondered together how Jesus was present in the world, and imagined him as squatting low, near the earth and super gentle, leaving space for people, including children, to come towards him if they chose.
  • I (who am responsible for the garden) told how the words of the prophet Isaiah recited at a recent Carboot Communion (“Instead of thistles, manna gums will grow, instead of blackberries, sheoaks. This will be a witness to God, living and lasting evidence of God.” 55:13) had inspired me to rip out invasive hedges and plant vegetables and locally Indigenous species instead – and to send everyone home with a locally Indigenous plant (funny how writing a liturgy can affect one!).

Prayer © Alison Sampson, 2020.

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If this post stimulated your thinking or restored your equilibrium, why not share it on social media? And why not flick a double shot coffee our way, to support our ongoing thinking, writing and praying. We are a small young faith community seeking to revitalize tired faith. Your contribution helps keep us awake.

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