20220813PreparedService

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Contents

Preparation

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
  • matches
  • a bell or signing bowl
  • a candle snuff

Check-in

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.

Opening Ritual

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

(Turn gears)

Cities were fertilized by religion,
Beliefs that bind bands into cities
Beliefs that infuse cities with community

(ASL sign for belief but modified: [1] 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 [2] 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: [3])

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!

The Reading

Let us imagine

Slowly You become aware of the forest around you. It is a noisy forest full of chirps and buzzing, tweets and whistles. You are aware of the odd distant roar, howl and bark. It is richly alive with animals so many of whom feed on the food provided by the angiosperms, the flowers. The sweet nectar of blossoming fruit trees fills the air. The forest is so full of nuts and fruit that the ground is littered with broken shells and pits. Gaia sits before you deep in mediation.

Suddenly she stirs, smiles at you and as she stands beckons for you to follow her. She walks along a winding path through the forest. As you walk you see many animals. Snakes, and mice, falcons and chic-a-dees, crows and squirrels. You see a herd of deer and then notice that there are at least three wolves stalking it. But surely you are safe in the presence of Gaia. You cross a stream and notice there are many strong salmon swimming up it. You glance up stream and see a grizzly bear standing in the water watching you. You hurry to stay close to Gaia. You look ahead and see a moose blocking the path. Its antlers are big enough to sweep you away. You get closer to Gaia. She continues walking toward it and it bows its head to her and steps off the path. From behind an old stump a cougar pounces and sinks its teeth into the mooses neck. It falls and disappears behind foliage. The sounds you hear from behind those leave disturb and frighten you. The moose was close to Gaia and yet was not safe, are you?

"Gaia, why did you not nurture and protect that part of you, that moose?" you ask. You are shaking as you ask it and you aren't certain if the fear is from seeing the fate of that moose or from questioning your goddess.

Gaia laughs, "To protect one part of me from another would be to starve the predator. I do not take sides in these disputes. The cougar and the moose were both obeying my laws and so they must deal with their differences themselves. But perhaps you need another answer. There is one here, up ahead on the path, who might be able to give you a wise answer."

You look ahead and see no one. But you notice that there is a spider climbing a tree up ahead. It is a very large spider. It is difficult to gauge the size from this distance but perhaps its leg span is more than two feet. This does nothing to calm your fears, for Gaia is taking you along a path that passes directly under the spider. But you follow her and pass safely under the spider which is now climbing amongst the high branches of a walnut tree.

Now up ahead you see a clearing with a small primitive hut. In front of the hut a bearded man in white robes is sitting and working with tools on something. As you get closer you see that he is working on another giant spider. It quickly becomes clear that the spider is robotic and that he is making adjustments to it. Gaia sits beside the man and beckons you to sit also. As you watch the man work you see that he has terrible scars on the backs of both of his hands. You begin to suspect that you know who this man is but you find it hard to believe that he would appear in a SolSeed prayer or that he would be tweaking a robot.

Gaia sees the look of shock on your face and laughs again, "Little one, you are shocked that I would bring you to Jesus. Jesus, you think, is part of the old story and has nothing to say to me. But this is, of course, a personification of Jesus not the real man, if ever there was one. The historic Jesus is lost in time and all we can talk to is an image formed in his name by countless generations."

Jesus looks you in the eye and you are surprised to see no judgement of your self there. He seems to be waiting for you to speak.

As you sit before these two gods you ask, "Forgive me, my lord, if I seem impertinent but why would you, the personification of a man from an ancient agrarian society, be tinkering with a robot?" You are shaking less now. Perhaps it is human nature to acclimatize to anything, even challenging gods face to face.

Jesus smiles, "I am a personification of the son of an all knowing god. Give me enough credit to expect me to have learned something in two thousand years." His voice is kind and you do not feel rebuked.

There are a few minutes of silence. Jesus has returned to adjusting the spider robot. He has attached some kind of miniature catapult to its back and is tightening the bolts. Gaia seems to have returned to her meditative trance.

Finally you build the courage to ask another question, "Forgive me again, my lord, for interrupting, but Gaia said that you might have an answer to another question that I asked."

Jesus smiles at you again then looks back down at his work. He puts aside his socket wrench and pours out a basket of permaculture seed bombs into a compartment in the robot's body. "You asked her why she did not protect the moose from the cougar." He locks the compartment and flips a switch and the spider scurries to the base of a nearby tree and begins climbing.

"Yes." you say trailing off to hint that what you want is the answer, not the question back again.

Jesus watches his spider climb the tree. "In the last two thousand years, I have learned that I was living a wrong story in my youth. It was a story that contravened Gaia's laws. It was a story of hierarchy and control rather than a story of participation, contribution and nurturing of talents. My life on Earth was one of questioning the accepted story and I questioned it in some important ways but I missed some that were very important. I failed to question the thread in the story where divinity gave humanity dominion over the Earth." The spider climbs out onto a branch of ancient beech tree that it has climbed and finds itself surrounded by monkeys.

"But one remark that I made and one thread of my story may work together to help you understand why Gaia failed to protect the moose from the cougar. More importantly it may help you to understand how you should relate to the cougar should it ever defeat your defences." The robot fires its catapult launching a permaculture seed bomb at the nearest monkey. The seed bomb bounces down from branch to branch and lands on the forest floor several meters away. Several monkeys race down after it. One grabs it and begins gnawing seeds out of the clay.

Jesus continues, "Do you remember that I said, love thy enemy?" As a monkey closes in, the spider robot pivots its catapult around but it is too late, the monkey grabs two legs and flips the spider over. It falls from the tree and there is a terrible cracking sound as it hits the ground.

You think back to what you know of the followers of Christ, "Yes, it is a very challenging requirement of Christianity from what I understand."

Jesus nods, "Do you remember also that I died on the cross for humanity?" He watches placidly as the monkeys close in on the stricken robot.

You don't have to think very hard about this one, "This is the crux of your story, if you will forgive the pun." The monkeys have surrounded the robot. Its legs are feebly waving at them as if to shoo them away.

Jesus laughs, "Humanity has reached a level where it can no longer live like other species. The moose can afford to hate the cougar which kills it. It can hate the cougar as an enemy because it is incapable of breaking Gaia's laws in acting out that hate. But humanity is capable of breaking the laws of Gaia. Gaia's first law is that you shall not exterminate your predators. You are capable of that and only by loving your enemy shall you return to accord with her law. It will mean that some of you must give up your lives for the good of humanity. You must accept that your fate is to die as all creatures die and that some of you, a very few because you are so clever at defending yourselves, will die at the hands of predators, parasites and pathogens." The monkeys had by this point opened the compartment and stolen all of the seed bombs and each had taken as many as he could and was voraciously gnawing at them.

You watch as the robot ceases to move, "So that is part of the new story that we must learn to live: we belong to the world, and if the world chooses to eat us, and we are unable to stop it, we must be eaten. We must not let our grief over the loss of a human cause us to go crazy and become criminals in Gaia's world. We must not live a story of vengeance, in which we kill whole species in repayment for the loss of an individual."

Gaia speaks up, "Very good little one, and now you know that there is wisdom in every tradition even if the people of the tradition have lost contact with it. So study the world, seek truth, cultivate sound instincts. Now Jesus and I have work to do and so do you. Go back to your real world and do your work."

You return from your trance and see that Gaia is a statue not a person. But you bring with you greater understanding and the beginnings of a bridge between two stories.

Silent contemplation

Leader: Please join me for seven minutes of silence while we contemplate ...

(Service Leader rings the bell)

(silence)

(Service Leader rings the bell again at the end of the seven minutes)

Discussion

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.
Gaia's bursting through boundaries is a painful and joyful process.
It is the pain of Earth giving rebirth to herself.
It is the joy of a myriad new possibilities emerging.
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 Rebirthing and 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,
growing,
nurturing,
discovering --
We Bring Life!

Closing Words

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.

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