You will need:
For services during the season of Conflatorium you will need the following:
- a bowl of ice cubes with a fossil frozen into each (one for each participant and several additional ones)
- A bowl of hot water
- A hand snack for each participant in the shape of an aquatic creature (gold fish crackers, shrimp, strips of Nori glued together with honey to look like jelly fish)
- a candle
- a bell or signing bowl
- a candle snuff
Leader: Who would like to share?
The participants briefly update each other on how they're doing and what's going on in their lives.
The season of Conflatorium (melting) is the second Liturgical Season in the SolSeed Movement's Liturgical Calendar. It symbolizes and celebrates the emergence of complex life in the Ediacaran and Cambrian periods, after the melting of Snowball Earth 590 million years ago. During this season the Weekly Service Calls use the following Opening ceremony:
We gather to mark the passing of a week
To align our hearts as one.
(Light the Sol candle) (take an ice cube from bowl and hold it in your hand)
Ice ... just ... ice ...
and then ... [gasp] ... Melting
(Drop the ice cube into warm/hot water)
Warm Sun! Open Water! Dry Land! Scented Breeze!
The sea teems with new lifeforms ...
As the ice melts, they emerge to tell their story!
(pour the ice cubes (or big block of ice) that have things (e.g., trilobites) frozen in them, into the bowl of warm water)
Cells transcend themselves
Uniting with multitudes of sisters to become something more;
Complex life explodes into a dazzling diversity of forms!
(Participants clasp hands, or join two hands clasped if you are alone)
Next opens the mouth, the first structure,
Both the feeder of animals,
and the singularity that
gave animals direction.
("Chase" and then eat some food, e.g. seaweed, suishi, shrimp, or goldfish crackers ... participant's choice)
Then come the senses!
Taste, smell, sight, touch, hearing
((Put fingers on mouth, nose, eye, temple, and ear, thus touching all five senses))
The sensing which gave the first animals reason to swim.
The sensing which still directs us today!
Finally, Animals secrete calcium,
Armour, Shells, Teeth, Bones,
Massive, piling, surfaces fold through open water,
A billion allies emerge,
Life learns to make new reefs, new worlds,
(building motions of one hand on top of another going up up up?)
Cells Join to Cells.
Mouths. Senses. Shells.
From silent ice ... teeming reefs!
(schooling fish motion where each finger is a fish)
Quotes of the Day
- if stars are uniformly distributed through the sky,
- their number should counterbalance their faintness
- and the night sky should be as bright as the day;
- - H.W.M. Olbers, 1826
- "Dark energy is crazy, right?"
- - Dr. Anthony Tyson
- Philosophically, I liked the steady-state cosmology.
- So I thought that we should report our results as a simple measurement;
- the measurement might be true after the cosmology was no longer true!"
- — Robert Woodrow Wilson
Contemplation for the Day
You are riding your elephant across a dark plain under a black sky. The darkness is so complete that if it were not that the plain was completely flat, your elephant would be unable to proceed. As it is it can one step after another because every step is the same as the last. You think that she might as well be standing still seeing as nothing changes as she steps forward. You wonder how long you have been walking and as if in response your AI implants display a timer on your visual cortex. To your surprise it is counting slowly in hundredths of seconds. What ever it is counting down to, there are only 9.56 seconds left.
Suddenly your elephant stumbles and comes to a stop. "The universe has gone bowl shaped!" she says.
You are a little worried. Only 9.41 seconds left, to what ever the count down is. Your elephant shifts its footing, "The bowl is getting deeper." she says uneasily. Only 9.23 seconds left. As your elephant shifts it's footing you put out your arms to each side for balance and you feel someone grab your right hand. You glance to your right and see Yahweh glowing faintly in the darkness with an iron grip on your hand.
"Yahweh!" You cry in surprise, "What are you doing here?" Only 8.84 seconds left you notice.
"Determined One, " Yahweh says, "I am your maker. It is traditional for you to meet me at this point."
You swear to yourself as you feel something grab your left hand. You turn to see El glowing gold in the otherwise dark universe. "El are you my maker also?" you ask. Only 8.63 seconds left!
"No, Uncertain One." El says quietly, "I did not make you although, in my form as unseen stories, I have shaped you. I am here to underline the doubt that you may grant yourself in Yahweh's story."
You feel Yahweh pulling on one arm and El pulling on the other. You feel a pain in both shoulders and begin to fear for your life in the face of these implacable gods. Only 8.22 seconds left! "What is your story, Yahweh?" you cry.
"The universe is pre-determined to expand at an accelerating rate until every object in the universe is ripped apart in order from largest to smallest, Determined One." Yahweh says monotonously as if he hadn't just spelled out your doom.
The pain in your shoulders gets worse. You feel Yahweh grab your feet with two more hands and begin to pull them away from your hips. "When will this happen?" you cry. And then you notice the timer: 6.89 seconds left.
As you look at the time count down further, Yahweh answers, "In 6.35 seconds."
The pain in your shoulders becomes unbearable, "El!" you cry, "Help me!"
El points at Yahweh and a bolt of what looks like lightening jumps from his finger to Yahweh and Yahweh loses his grip on you and is thrown away into the darkness but the lightning continues to jump around and you are blinded. As your vision adapts you see Thea Me Plokamia floating before you. Her branching tentacled arms reach out in every direction further than you can see. El is sitting on his throne which is balanced on a branch of Thea. You are standing on the same branch near him. The branch is so thick that you cannot see its curvature; it appears like a flat plain to you. "El!" you cry, "Thank you!"
"Do not thank me, Uncertain One," El says cryptically, "I can give you no more guarantee of a safe future than I can give you of an accurate understanding of the past."
You notice that you feel quite hot and wonder if Sophia is around with her hot blue gaze but there is nothing. Then you notice the stars. There are a lot of them, they give the luster of full daylight to everything and they seem to be getting brighter. The timer is still there but it is counting forward quickly in hundreds of millions of years, 15.2 billion years, 15.3 billion years, 15.4 billion years.
An elderly man walks toward you across the surface of Thea's branch. "Which God are you?" you ask him.
The old man replies in German but you understand him as if he were speaking English, "I am no God. I am a doctor."
"Oh," you reply surprised to be startled by meeting a non-God, after all, in your normal life, meeting non-God's is the norm, "My name is You," you reply, "what is yours?"
"What a peculiar name, my friend," says the old man, "My name is Heinrich Wilhelm Mattias Obler, a pleasure to meet you." and the old man shakes your hand.
"You were an astronomer also, not only a doctor, were you not," you say.
"I dable in astronomy, yes." Obler replies. The timer is still ticking by, 17.8 billion years, 17.9 billion years. "I think perhaps the universe is behaving as I predicted," he motions toward the ever brighter hotter sky.
"What did you predict?" you ask.
"I predicted that if the universe were of infinite age and infinite size," Obler explains, "with stars spread evenly throughout it, that the sky would be filled with stars to the point where every part of it would be as bright as the surface of the Sun and every object in the universe would glow red hot including the whole surface of every planet."
"But that isn't how the universe is?" you said.
"Therefore the universe must either not be of infinite age or infinite size or must not be filled with stars spread out evenly thorughout it." Obler laughs, "This was the paradox. It was to be solved by one of those options but which we could not decide at the time."
"It was solved by the fact that the universe is of finite age and expanding so that the light from distant stars can never reach us because it is left behind by the expanding universe." you say.
"Evidently not," chides Obler, "More and more stars are appearing. It is of finite age but appears that it may be of infinite size and is indeed filled with stars to the end of the sky. Eventually we will see so many stars that their light will cook us." You note the timer, 21.7 billion years, 21.8 billions years ...
"But that isn't how our universe works!" You cry as the light begins to burn you, you feel your skin going red.
El laughs, "You didn't like how the universe is and now you do not like this alternative, Uncertain One. What is it you want?"
"I just want a universe where, Life can live comfortably forever!" you cry.
El sneers at you, "That may not be an option, Uncertain One. How perfectly balanced would expansion have to be to make you happy? Expanding fast enough to keep the light from too many stars from reaching you but expanding slowly enough that the universe neither rips itself apart nor runs out of the light from infinite suns always newly appearing. You should be grateful that it might be possible to avoid Obler's burning future. The Big Rip is not so bad is it?"
You are startled by El's statement. You wonder, "Could such a balance be achieved? A perfectly balanced expansion."
Thea Me Plokamia smiles down at you, "Life seeks balance, Tiny One," she says.
"Is there a balance to be achieved?" you ask uncertain, "If the universe does not expand fast enough to leave the light of distant stars forever behind then eventually, will it not burn?"
Thea laughs, "Obler did not know about the death of stars," she replies, "With the right balance, as nearby galaxies go dark, far away galaxies will only replace them. A balanced temperature could be achieved."
Obler looks startled, "Stars die? Of course, they must have fuel and it must run out. Why did I not think of that?"
"But how could we ever end inflation," you ask unable to imagine a human intervention which could achieve such a goal.
"You need not end inflation until the end of star light in the MilkyWay. As long as you prevent the Big Rip, expansion will stretch out an infinite supply of starlight for you. When you need it, you can stop expansion and it will come streaming to you like a continuous flow of manna." Thea's explanation calms you, "You have on the order of 100 trillion years to find the answer."
Obler looks even more startled, "100 trillion years. Strange but an eternal universe didn't seem as vast as one with such a large number of years attached to it."
"But where will I find the answer?" you ask, despairing that it could ever be discovered.
"Why," Thea laughs, "where all discoveries are found, Tiny One; in the adjacent possible."
Obler looks at Thea and then back at you, "What answer are you looking for?"
"Well how to stop the expansion of the universe so that we could achieve a universe which has a comfortable temperature for Life for ever," you explain, "Where the light from ever more distant stars reaches us in successive waves for ever."
Obler looks doubtful for a moment and then says, "For ever? That won't work. The sun covers 1 part in two hundred thousand of the sky. Assuming that to maintain your, "Comfortable temperature" you would need stellar surfaces to continue to cover that 1 part in two hundred thousand and assuming that dead stars still block the same portion of the sky as they did when they were alive, then you could only extend the life of universe by a factor of 200 000 by your scheme. After that stars would fill the sky as I predicted, it is just that they would be dead stars. They would be heated by the light coming from greater distances still but the heat would be diffuse and unusable, equal in every direction."
"A warm heat death instead of a cold one." You say.
Thea looks down at you, "Lifekind would live comfortably for 20 quintillion years instead of just 100 trillion, Tiny One. That would give Lifekind so much more time to find the real answer to infinite life, so much more time to search the adjacent possible. Do it, Tiny One!"
You return to your normal life, filled with new possibilities and a greater appreciation for the wonderous universe. An expanding universe keeps the sky from filling with Hot stars as Obler predicted and so prevents a fiery death for Life. The Big Rip may be unpleasant, but we have billions of years to find a way to prevent it and it may be the teacher we need to find a balance between hot and cold.
Leader: Please join me for seven minutes of silence while we contemplate ...
(Service Leader rings the bell)
(Service Leader rings the bell again at the end of the seven minutes)
Leader: Who would like to share?
The participants take turns talking about what they were thinking about during the contemplation.
Reading of the SolSeed Creed
Please respond to the portions of the Creed highlighted in bold in unison:
- Life is precious.
- It has always been precious,
- it will always be precious.
- Life exuberant
- bursting through boundaries
- to flower and spread
- creates the conditions for more Life,
- in an Upward Spiral
- of ever-growing possibilities.
- As you are alive, and I am alive,
- and in kinship with all other beings
- who call Terra home,
- we are Gaia --
- the body of all Life.
- The Destiny of Gaia
- is to take root and flower amongst the stars --
- to give birth to a family of living worlds.
- As intelligent sparks of Gaia,
- we are called to express her excellent nature,
- we are called to attend the Great Birthing.
- We who answer this call
- dedicate ourselves to Gaia,
- We join together
- in a community of practice
- to align our words and actions
- with our highest aspirations.
- Through awesome experiences
- of cosmic, biological, and cultural creativity,
- we awaken within ourselves and others
- the Cosmic Religious Feeling
- that ignites wonder,
- fosters compassion, and
- inspires invention.
- Our three sacred duties are to
- embrace Passion,
- cultivate Empathy, and
- pursue Wisdom,
- So that our being honors Gaia
- and our striving hastens the Great Birthing.
- Passion drives us.
- Without Passion
- Empathy and Wisdom are lethargic.
- I pledge to stoke the fire in my belly,
- to compassionately care for my inner elephant ---
- to really be me, Happy in the Sun!
- Empathy is transcendent.
- Without Empathy,
- Passion and Wisdom are evil.
- I pledge to love others as I love myself,
- to consider their needs as if they were my own --
- to Grow Ours, not just Get Mine!
- Wisdom is effective.
- Without Wisdom,
- Passion and Empathy are reckless.
- I pledge to train my elephant through regular practice,
- to stand ready to transform my worldview in the face of new evidence --
- to cultivate sound instincts.
- Through Passion, Empathy, and Wisdom
- we have come to know that:
- We are Gaia's People --
- children of the Earth and Sun,
- awakened by starlight,
- discovering --
- We Bring Life!
Leader: We extinguish this flame, but not the light of truth, the warmth of community or the fires of commitment ... these we carry in our hearts until we are together again.
Leader extinguishes the candle with the Candle Snuff
Leader: May your week be blessed with life and love. Blessed be.