Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

20 June 2021


Order of Reflection

“making connections”



“This earth we are riding keeps trying to tell us something with its continuous scripture of leaves.”


~ William Stafford


“Prayer invites God to be present in our spirits and in our lives. Prayer cannot bring water to parched land, nor mend a broken bridge, or rebuild a ruined city, but prayer can water an arid soul, mend a broken heart and rebuild a weakened will.”

~ Abraham Heschel



We light our chalice, this candle,

          as a sign of our connectedness, our community, and of our journey on this spiritual quest called life….


We take a moment to reflect on our life and living of this week…

          What was good? Healthy?

          What was not good? Unhealthy?

          What moments, events, conversations, time alone

          that allowed me to connect to another, to life,

                               to that which may be called Divine.


May the Great Spirit of the Journey walk with us today.




HFL 172 (CD HFL 4/TRACK 13)

“All are Welcome Here”

words by Peter Galbraith


Now open wide your hearts, my friends,

And I will open mine,

And let us share all that is fair,

All that is true and fine.


We gather in this meeting house —

People of many kinds:

Let us, below the surface, seek

A meeting of true minds.


For in our company shall be

Great witnesses of light

The Buddha, Krishna, Jesus — those

Gifted with clearest sight.


Like them, we seek to know ourselves,

To seek, in spite of fear;

To open wide, to all, our hearts —

For all are welcome here.





This past week, Thursday through Saturday, the Unitarian Societies have had a zoom conference, to educate and to inform and to experience who we are and what we can do to assist our living out our Unitarian faith and spirituality.


We heard of our desires to hold,,,, and yes, to interpret afresh our tradition, we heard of our concern for justice, for the better inclusion of minority voice within our community, and of our creative ways to express our sense of faith and spirituality.


Beyond our Unitarian musings there are other things happening for us to reflect upon.


For example: Yesterday was also a day that is celebrated in the Black communities of the US, known as Juneteenth. A day to commemorate the end of slavery on the day that Union forces reached Galveston Texas and told the black population there that they were no longer slaves. These celebrations remind us of that historic liberation and of the continued horrific legacy that slavery has visited upon our black sisters and brothers.


There is within all of this a convergence of idea, ideal, and life direction.




So I invite you to listen to these words from the black theologian Howard Thurman… on nature, humanity, and of spirituality…


Common Ground

by Howard Thurman


“Humanity cannot long separate itself from nature without withering as a cut rose in a vase. One of the deceptive aspects of the human mind is the illusion of being distinct from and over against but not a part of nature. It is but a single leap thus to regard nature as being so completely other to humanity that one may exploit it, plunder it, and rape it with impunity.


This we see all around us in the modern world. Our atmosphere is polluted, our streams are poisoned, our hills are denuded, wild life is increasingly exterminated, while more and more humanity becomes an alien on the earth and the fouler of our own nests. The price that is being exacted for this is a deep sense of isolation, of being rootless and a vagabond.”   (Search for the Common Ground, pp83-84)


* * * * *


Christine Valters Paintner, a writer on spiritual practices and art, reflects on this isolation in this way…


Power of Place

by Christine Valters Paintner


“We live in a time when we are largely disconnected from the gifts of the earth’s cycles, rhythms, and seasons, which have so much wisdom to offer us about the nature of change. The forms of earth have much to teach us about our own internal landscapes: Each of the great forms that earth takes — mountains and hills and plains and valleys and meadows and steppes and swamps and marshes and deserts and islands — each of these geographies we transmute to geo-biographies of our own personal journey across time and circumstance. We too rise up, we ascend, we fall, only to rise and fall over and over, until we are levelled and become one again with the single mantle that is the resting ground and birthing ground of it all.


The meanings we ascribe to the trajectory of our lives are the same ones we observe in the fate of the Earth. The finite summit of the mountain’s peak, the river’s final arrival to the sea, the clearing in the depths of the woods, serve as exemplars and as metaphors for the often steep and uncertain and perilous journey that is our life.


This speaks to us of the honouring of the profound role of place in our internal landscapes and spiritual journeys.” (Water, wind, earth & fire, pp106-107)



HFL 233 (CD HFL 4/TRACK 20)

“Others Call it God”

words by William Herbert Carruth


A fire-mist and a planet,

A crystal and a cell,

A star-fish and a saurian,

And caves where cave-folk dwell:

The sense of law and beauty,

A face turned from the clod —

Some call it evolution,

And others call it God.


Haze on the far horizon,

The infinite tender sky,

The ripe, rich tints of cornfields,

And wild geese sailing high;

And over high and lowland,

The charm of golden rod —

Some people call it nature,

And others call it God.


Like tides on a crescent sea-beach,

When the moon is new and thin,

Into our hearts high yearnings

Come welling, surging in,

Come from the mystic ocean

Whose rim no foot has trod—

Some people call it longing,

And others call it God.


A picket frozen on duty,

A mother starved for her brood,

And Socrates drinking hemlock,

And Jesus on the rood;

And millions, who, though nameless,

The straight, hard pathway trod —

Some call it consecration,

And others call it God.


* * * * *

This past year I have been a part of a small intentional spiritual community, made up of artists and spiritual directors. One of the members and I recently discovered we have a mutual friend. We have both known him since the 1980s.


Our leader has introduced me to several poets that have spoken deeply to me. One that resonated with me was the poet William Stafford.


His poetry spoke deeply to me, so I started to look for his works and his bio…


By the time I completed my research I was surprised that I hadn’t actually met him, our stories have many convergences…. From physical location to spiritual location….. it was a returning home…. His life as a Conscious Objector during WW2, his growing up in Kansas, his membership of the same denomination that I was a member of in US, his struggles with what life means, and what being a faith filled person means… these things resonated with me…


So I invite you to consider the place of spirituality experience in nature….


Reading the Big Weather

by William Stafford


Mornings we see our breath. Weeds

sturdy for winter are waiting down

by the tracks. Birds, high and silent,

pass almost invisible over town.


Time, always almost ready

to happen, leans over our shoulders reading

the headlines for something not there, “Republicans

Control Congress” — the year spins on unheeding.


The moon drops back toward the sun, a sickle

gone faint in the dawn:  there is a weather

of things that happen too faint for headlines,

but tremendous, like willows touching the river.


This earth we are riding keeps trying to tell us

something with its continuous scripture of leaves.




What are the ways that your story is enriched by your connections with others? Those in your neighbourhood? In your wider community? With other Unitarians? Local chapel? National? International?


What are the ways that your story is enriched by your connections with the world about you?


What are the ways that your story is enriched by your connections with the wider story of life, spirit and love? With that which you call holy, sacred, divine?


How do these connections inform your way of living and life?


What ways does these connections focus your desires for the future? As an individual? As a part of the congregation? As a part of the wider Unitarian family?



The serenity prayer written by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr is well known, in a short version, often used by recovery groups. Todays prayer is a complete version of the original prayer ….this prayer fits well with our conversations around being okay, what it means, and especially what it means for ourselves….


God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.


Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.



HFL 146 (CD HFL 4/TRACK 11)

“True Simplicity”

Traditional Shaker Song


’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free;

’Tis the gift to know just where we want to be;

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

’Twill be in the valley of love and delight.


When true simplicity is gained,

To greet all as friend we shan’t be ashamed;

To turn, turn, will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning, we come round right.


’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free;

’Tis the gift to share our common destiny;

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

’Twill be in the valley of love and delight.


When true simplicity is gained,

To greet all as friend we shan’t be ashamed;

To turn, turn, will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning, we come round right.



Spirit of Life,

          in the this marvellous world we inhabit,

          may we keep perspective on our place within it,

          may we keep perspective upon the value of each human life.

          may we keep perspective upon the value of all creation.


Preserve us from taking our life for granted

          Preserve us from treating others with disrespect.


Spirit of Life,

          blessing and breath…

          love and compassion…

          life and life giving presence


Hear our prayer,

          today, tomorrow, in all our activities of life and living.



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