You will need:
- 3 seeds per participant
- dish filled with soil
- complex mechanism which can be actuated such as a gear box (perhaps made of Lego)
- two beakers (one half filled with water)
- 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.
- We gather to mark the passing of a week
- To align our hearts as one.
(Light the Sol Candle)
- Wilderness ... still ... wilderness ...
- And then ... <gasp> ... civilization!
- People. Warm-blooded. Social. Tool-users. Talking.
- Nations coalesce.
- In the fertile lands, cities are born.
- And for every city ... there is a story!
(Open book sign)
- Cities grew out of farming, the first massive division of labour
(plant 3 seeds in a straight row in a dish of soil)
- Making Scientists and Priests possible
- Allowing Artisans to evolve into Industry
- Cities were fertilized by religion,
- Beliefs that bind bands into cities
- Beliefs that infuse cities with community
(ASL sign for belief but modified:  instead of clasping your own hand at the end of the sign, clasp those of the people next to you (or reach toward the screen to 'clasp' those in other locations on Skype)
- Then came science!
(Pour water from one beaker to another)
- The practice of seeking truth through experience.
- The upward spiral of knowledge
(The ASL sign for knowledge: right hand open, fingers together palm down, tab above right brow twice  Then sweep the hand through an upward spiral until arm is extended directly up.)
- Finally, democracy emerged!
(Ballot stuffing motion as in ASL for VOTE: )
- Making striving for their self-chosen destinies,
- Freely available to all living citizens.
(ASL for Freedom like in Spirit of Life)
- Farming. Religion. Science. Freedom.
- From Wilderness ... Civilization!
Quote of the Day
- Sometimes Gaia is Medea
- Imagine for a second being transported to the surface of Venus.
- A second is all you need to imagine because after a second you would be dead.
- I am uncertain which would make your death there more painful;
- the fiery heat,
- the crushing pressure,
- or the poison air.
- You would be safe from the sulfuric acid rain because the surface is so hot that it evaporates before it can reach the desiccated ground.
- Now return from your imagination to reality here on Terra.
- Still alive?
- That is Gaia taking care of you.
- Be grateful.
--Eric Saumur, Waking that Cosmic Religious Feeling, Episode 4
Contemplation for the Day
You are standing in a city park, the noise of traffic is close by but still a background sound. A few trees surround a fountain. Bicycles rush by on a pathway along the edge of the park. Buildings loom overhead in every direction. A couple sits on the grass nearby having an argument about how their lives should play out. One end of the park is wilder than the other. Shrubs and saplings crowd around the base of the trees. Workmen arrive in a van marked with the colours of a construction company. They begin placing a line of temporary wooden barriers across that end of the park. You feel concern for those trees. What is about to happen to them?
You look closely at them and see Gaia standing with her back to you among the foliage. Worried for her safety and, also, needing solace regarding what you believe is about to happen, you run across the park to her side. As you approach you see a truck stopping at the edge of the park pulling a huge double dropdeck trailer carrying a massive excavator marked with the same construction company's name.
'Gaia, these trees are about to be killed,' you exclaim, 'we have to do something.'
But when Gaia turns to you, you are horrified. Her arms and legs, though The Blue and Green of Life Thriving, are hydraulic; steel bars and cylinders and oily hoses. Her hands are hydraulic excavator shovels and her mouth is heavy duty hydraulic grapple. In the pits where her eyes should be are seats occupied by tiny construction workers operating levers and throttles.
'Gaia, I don't understand.' you say frightened and nearly speechless.
'Little One,' Gaia says, the grapple moving in a eerie mimic of lips forming words, 'I cannot save these trees. You forget that I am the body of all Life. Even machine Life, including the excavator which is about to kill these trees.'
'But that excavator isn't alive and these trees are.' you cry exasperated.
'Why do you claim that the excavator isn't alive. It moves does it not, just as an animal moves?' she calmly explains. In the background you can hear the excavator screeching and thumping as it drives itself off the trailer.
'Yes but it can't reproduce.' you try to reason with Gaia.
'There are many nearly identical copies of it all over the world. Surely it must have reproduced for that to be the case.' Gaia motions to it. It is extending its stabilizers facing the trees menacingly.
'No it was built by humans.' you say hurriedly, somehow you have to convince her.
'Like a virus, built by the effort of other creatures, and yet alive.' Gaia watches the excavator tear the first tree down with love in her eyes. 'I haven't had such power for 66 million years.'
As she says this the scene around you blurs and as it reforms it is completely different and yet the same. You are standing in a small stand of trees. Around this stand in every direction is the wreckage of a once rich forest. A herd of giant sauropod dinosaurs are walking away from your stand toward another forest in the distance. But one beast is still here. It is stripping the leaves off the crown of one of the remaining trees. Gaia too has changed. Her hair is gone replaced by feathers. Her skin is scaly and she has a very long neck and tail. She smiles at you and you take an instinctive step back; her mouth is filled with razor sharp teeth.
'Gaia, you are frightening me!' you exclaim without thinking. You look at the sauropods massive feet churning the soil as it positions itself.
'I am a frightening goddess, Little One.' Gaia explains calmly, 'not only do I provide for my parts by creating water, air, soil and forests and by regulating Terra's temperature and her ocean's salinity, I also eat my parts to feed my other parts. Some of my parts even kill other parts which are inconvenient to them.' As you watch a small mammal emerges from its burrow near the sauropods feet squealing; the sauropod's feet have churned the soil and crushed the burrow. The little rat-like creature protests as loudly as it can but the sauropod cannot even hear it over the crunching of leaves and twigs in its mouth.
'What comfort is there in such a goddess?' You ask, despairing.
'What comfort can a cabbage have when it is faced with harvest?' Gaia asks back and the scene blurs again. It goes dark, but you can feel sunlight on your leaves. You realize that you are a plant. You can sense the water and nutrients at your root tips and you sip them joyfully. You feel the sweetness forming in your leaves as the sun powers your photosynthetic efforts. You can 'hear' the pheromonic wisperings of the other cabbages around you. But they are not happy wisperings. They are warnings.
Gaia is the next cabbage over and she says in pheromones more complex and subtle than any real cabbage knows how to produce, 'Have you ever eaten cabbage, Little One?'
You find you are able to reply in equally complex pheromonic language, 'Yes but cabbage's don't feel, do they?'
Gaia emits a burst of pheromonic laughter, 'How would you know if they did, Little One? They are more alien to you than octopii.'
One of the other cabbages beside you squeals (in pheromones) as it is ripped from the ground, 'protect yourselves; herbivore coming.' it cries. But you know there is no protection to be had and you know that you are next.
'But Gaia, I need comfort.' you call to her in a puff of scented air.
'Take heart I care for my parts also.' Gaia says and the scene blurs again. Now you are sitting in a huge café. You glance around and there are thousands, perhaps millions of tables. At each one a different creature sits; so many species. Waitresses flit back and forth serving the customers. Each waitress is Gaia. One Gaia-waitress stops at your table and plunks down a glass of water and pressure cylinder attached to a breathing mask. You take a breath from the cylinder and the dry-clear-headedness of pure oxygen infiltrates you. The dryness makes you thirsty so you take a sip from the glass of water.
But you instinctively spit it out; it is ocean brine. 'Oh sorry, did I give you the wrong order?' your Gaia-waitress cries, 'here let me fix that.' She puts another glass of water on your table. A commotion has arisen a few tables over. A Gaia-hostess has seated a shrew next to a mole and the mole is protesting. While your Gaia-waitress is watching this commotion, she accidentally picks up your oxygen cylinder instead of the glass of ocean brine and moves it to the next table. A bacterium sitting at that table (I did start this little story with the words, 'imagine with me'; work your imagination hard). So, yes, a bacterium sitting at that table takes a breath from the cylinder and withers and dies.'
'Oh crap! Was that customer anerobic? How am I supposed to keep track?' Gaia cries in frustration.
'Gaia, I am human. I need more comfort than oxygen and water can provide.' You yell over the din of the café.
'Oh I provide that too.' Gaia says calmly and the scene blurs again.
You are walking down sunny but busy street. You see your best friend emerge from the crowd ahead of you. He walks toward you smiling, arms out offering a hug. As you accept the hug, tears running down your cheeks from all the terrible things you have imagined, you notice that his skin is marked with the blue-green of Life thriving. You hear Gaia wisper in your ear, 'I am your friends and family also, Little One.'
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.