Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas recorded the following prayer for the opening session of National Faith and Climate Forum, American Climate Leadership Summit 2022 (March 31, 2022). A YouTube video of the prayer is available here.
Friends, I invite you to stand in body or spirit and to join me in a simple body prayer as we welcome the presence of the Holy in our midst.
As we gather today, the winds of war are howling around us: a war against Ukraine that is underwritten by oil and gas, and a relentless war against Earth herself as coal, gas, and oil continue to be extracted and burned. The winds of war, the casualties of war, are all around.
So, I invite us to take a moment to ground ourselves, to feel our feet on the ground. Beneath the floor is the earth. Let yourself feel the support of the good earth under your feet. Let the good earth hold you up… Imagine, for a moment, that you are a tree. Your roots extend deep into the earth. Let your roots reach deep into the soil and bend your knees a little.
As we breathe in, we lift our arms like branches, and as we breathe out, we breathe down into our roots. The Bible’s first psalm says that those who trust in God are “like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither” (Psalm 1:3). So, we plant ourselves in the love of God. Our roots go down deep into the divine Presence, which runs like a river beside us or below us or within us. Even when the world is dangerous or chaotic, we draw from a divine river that is endlessly flowing, for, as another psalm tells us, “The river of God is full of water” (Psalm 65:9). Maybe your fingertips sense the flow of that river.
I invite you to take a big, deep breath. Breathing in, let your arms sweep up to the sky overhead. Breathing out, let your arms float out to the sides, like the great canopy of a tree. As we breathe in, we receive the breath of life from trees. As we breathe out, we release the breath of life to trees. We exchange the elements of life with each other. Take a moment to stand with trees and with all plants and green-growing things. Like every creature that breathes, we join a mysterious dance of giving and receiving. We live in a sacred world of reciprocity and mutuality.
Bring your arms down to your sides. Breathing in, we draw the love of God up through our body. Breathing out, we extend God’s blessing to every tree, every creature, and every person. Breathing in, we take in the love and power of God, and breathing out, we extend that blessing to every part of the web of life. Who needs that blessing right now? Send it there.
Let’s take a moment to enjoy standing still, feet on the ground, and breathing. I’ll close with a prayer.
Gracious God, in troubled times may we draw from the deep wellspring of our faith. Then may we rise like a mighty tree, bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither, offering our gifts to each other and to a warring world, speaking words of peace, and joining hands to build a just and thriving planet. Amen.
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