Rev John Carter’s Reflections – Sun 25th Apr 2021

Unitarian Sunday Reflections
(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)
25 April 2021

Order of Reflection
“Reflections for the Day After”

“When the heart is broken,
Compassion can begin to flow”
~ Matthew Fox

We light our chalice, this candle, as a sign of our connectedness, of our journey on this spiritual quest….

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

As today is the day after our GA meetings, I am inviting us to simply ponder some poets I have been inspired by over the years. Some I have known for many a year and others I have been introduced to recently. So today read and be inspired, or annoyed or……

Sit with the wonder and the joy and the passion and the sorrow which come through these words.

“A core of silence”
words by Jim Reilly

A core of silence breathes beyond all words, or else the words have little worth: to ‘heart’ or ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’ it comes forth (the words we name them matter not).

And half the music lies within the pause between the arches of the heart; the prince upon the page means less than ink unless the white and black both speak.

The ‘true religion’ gathers up its text: ‘In the beginning was the Word.’
But I seek quietness behind that start and name it nothing, much less ‘God.’

The Creation
James Weldon Johnson – 1871-1938

And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I’m lonely—
I’ll make me a world.
And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.
Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said: That’s good!
Then God reached out and took the light in his hands,
And God rolled the light around in his hands
Until he made the sun;
And he set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said: That’s good!
Then God himself stepped down—
And the sun was on his right hand,
And the moon was on his left;
The stars were clustered about his head,
And the earth was under his feet.
And God walked, and where he trod
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.
Then he stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And he spat out the seven seas—
He batted his eyes, and the lightnings flashed—
He clapped his hands, and the thunders rolled—
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.
Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around his shoulder.
Then God raised his arm and he waved his hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And he said: Bring forth! Bring forth!
And quicker than God could drop his hand,
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said: That’s good!
Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that he had made.
He looked at his sun,
And he looked at his moon,
And he looked at his little stars;
He looked on his world
With all its living things,
And God said: I’m lonely still.
Then God sat down—
On the side of a hill where he could think;
By a deep, wide river he sat down;
With his head in his hands,
God thought and thought,
Till he thought: I’ll make me a man!
Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of his hand;
This great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till he shaped it in is his own image;
Then into it he blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.
Amen. Amen.

A Retelling by lucille clifton

“the garden of delight”

for some
it is stone
bare smooth
as a buttock
into the crevasse
of the world

for some
it is extravagant
water mouths wide
washing together
forever for some
it is fire
for some air

and for some
certain only of the syllables
it is the element they
search their lives for


for them
it is a test

“adam thinking”

stolen from my bone
is it any wonder
i hunger to tunnel back
inside Desperate
to reconnect the rib and clay
and to be whole again

some need is in me
struggling to roar through my
mouth into a name
this creation is so fierce
i would rather have been born

“eve thinking”

it is wild country here
brothers and sisters coupling
claw and wing
groping one another

i wait
while the clay two-foot
rumbles in his chest
searching for language to

call me
but he is slow
tonight as he sleeps
i will whisper into his mouth
our names

“the story thus far”

so they went out
clay and morning star
following the bright back
of the woman

as she walked past
the cherubim
turning their fiery swords
past the winged gate

into the unborn world
chaos fell away
before her like a cloud
and everywhere seemed light

seemed glorious
seemed very eden

“lucifer speaks in his own voice”

sure as i am
of the seraphim
folding wing
so am i certain of a
graceful bed
and a soft caress
along my long belly
at endgame it was
to be
i who was called son
if only of the morning
saw that some must
walk or all will crawl
so slithered into earth
and seized the serpent in
the animals i become
the lord of snake for
adam and for eve
i the only lucifer
created out of fire
illuminate i could
and so
illuminate i did

SYF 39
“For the splendour of creation”
words by Carl P. Daw Jr.

For the splendour of creation that draws us to inquire,
for the mystery of knowledge to which our hearts aspire,
for the deep and subtle beauties which delight the eye and ear,
for the discipline of logic, the struggle to be clear,
for the unexplained remainder, the puzzling and the odd:
for the joy and pain of learning, we give you thanks, O God.

For the scholars past and present whose bounty we digest,
for the teachers who inspire us to summon forth our best,
for our rivals and companions, sometimes foolish, sometimes wise,
for the human web upholding this noble enterprise,
for the common life that binds us through days that soar or plod:
for this place and for these people, we give you thanks, O God.


“The Fish Counter at Bonneville”
by William Stafford

Downstream they have killed the river and built a dam;
by that power they wire to here a light:
a turbine strides high poles to spit its flame
at this flume going down. A spot glows white
where an old man looks on at the ghosts of the game
in the flickering twilight — deep dumb shapes that glide.

So many Chinook souls, so many Silverside.

Memory of Fire: Genesis
by Eduardo Galeano (South American Poet)
(Memory of Fire is a trilogy of books exploring the abuse, the imposition of slavery of the indigenous as well as importing people from Africa, the extermination of the peoples and land and resources in the whole of the Americas by European and USA, Canadian colonisation).

1511: Yara

In these islands, in these Calvaries, those who choose death by hanging themselves or drinking poison along with their children are many. The invaders cannot avoid this vengeance, but know how to explain it: the Indians, so savage that they think everything is in common, as Oviedo will say, are people by nature idle and vicious, doing little work. For a pastime many killed themselves with venom so as not to work, and others hanged themselves with their own hands.

Hatuey, Indian chief of the Guahaba region, has not killed himself. He fled with his people from Haiti in a canoe and took refuge in the caves and mountains of eastern Cuba.
There he pointed to a basketful of gold and said:
“this is the god of the Christians. For him they pursue us. For him our fathers and our brothers have died. Let us dance for him. If our dance pleases him, this god will order them not to mistreat us.”

They catch him three months later.

They tie him to a stake.

Before lighting the fire that will reduce him to charcoal and ash, the priest promises him glory and eternal rest if he agrees to be baptised.
Hatuey asks:

“Are there Christians in that heaven?”


Hatuey chooses hell, and the firewood begins to crackle.

“They Had a Country”
1600: Santa Marta

The fire takes time to catch. How slowly it burns.

Grindings of metal, armoured men in motion. The assault on Santa Marta has failed and the governor has passed a sentence of annihilation. Weapons and soldiers have arrived from Cartagena in the nick of time and the Taironas, bled white by so many years of tribute and slavery, scatter in defeat.

Extermination by fire.

Burning villages and plantations, corn fields and cotton fields, cassava and potato crops, fruit orchards. The irrigated plantings that delighted the eye and gave food, the farmlands where the Taironas made love in full daylight, because children made in the dark are born blind — everything burns.

How many worlds do these fires illuminate?

The one that was and was seen, the one that was and was not seen…

Exiled at the end of seventy-five years of rebellions, the Tairornas flee into the mountains, the most arid and remote places, where there is no fish and no corn. Far up there the invaders have expelled them, seizing their lands and uprooting their memory, that in their remote isolation oblivion may descend upon the songs they sang when they lived together, a federation of free people, and were strong and wore robes of multicoloured cotton and necklaces of gold and flashing stones:

so that they should never again remember the their grandparents were jaguars.

Behind them the leave ruins and graves.

The wind whispers, souls in travail whisper, and fire dances in the distance.

by Alice Walker

I well remember
A time when
“Amazing Grace” was
All the rage
In the South.
“Happy” black mothers arguing
Agreement with
Illiterate sweating preachers
Hemming and hawing blessedness
Inheritance of earth, e.g.,
Mississippi cotton fields?

And in the North
Roy Hamilton singing
“What is America to me?”
Such a good question
From a nice slum
In North Philly.

My God! The songs and
The people and the lives
Started here —
Weaned on “happy” tears
Black fingers clutching black teats
On black Baptist benches —
Some mother’s troubles that everybody’s
And nobody wants to see.

I can remember the rocking of
The church
And embarrassment
At my mother’s shouts
Like it was all — “her happiness” —
Going to kill her.
My father’s snores
Punctuating eulogies
His loud singing
Into fluffy grey caskets
A sleepy tear
In his eye.

Amazing Grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
But now I’m found
Was blind
But now
I see.

Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward, Fats Waller,
Ray Charles,
Sitting here embarrassed with me
Watching the birth
Hearing the cries
Bearing witness
To the child,

SYF 200
“What does the Lord require?”
words by John Bunyan as int

What does the Lord require for praise and offering?
What sacrifice desire, or tribute bid us bring?
But only this: true justice do, love mercy too, and walk with God.

True justice always means defending of the poor,
the right of the wrong, reforming ancient law.
This is the path, true justice do, love mercy too, and walk with God.

Love mercy and be kind, befriend, forgive, always,
and welcome all who come to sing with us in praise:
And in this way, true justice do, love mercy too, and walk with God.

Yes, humbly walk that way, free from all pompous pride,
in quiet simplicity, God always at our side:
Thus evermore, true justice do, love mercy too, and walk with God.


“wednesday prayers (for those in need)
by Carla A Grosch-Miller

For the hungry and the homeless,
For the heartless and hopeless,

For the lonely and the longing,
For the overlooked and the unloving,

For the bleeding and the dying,
For the aching and the crying,

For all who need and all who plead,
For the empty hand and the asking heart,

Grant us to see, O God, it is You
Who are meeting us.

“I don’t want to be demure or respectable”
by Mary Oliver

I don’t want to be demure or respectable.

I was that way, asleep, for years.
That way, you forget too many important things.

How the little stones, even if you can’t hear them,
are singing.
How the river can’t wait to get to the ocean and
the sky, it’s been there before.
What traveling is that!

It is a joy to imagine such distances.
I could skip sleep for the next hundred years.
There is a fire in the lashes of my eyes.
It doesn’t matter where I am, it could be a small room.
The glimmer of gold Bohme saw on the kitchen pot
was missed by everyone else in the house.

Maybe the fire in my lashes is a reflection of that.
Why do I have so many thoughts, they are driving me
Why am I always going anywhere, instead of somewhere?
Listen to me or not, it hardly matters.
I’m not trying to be wise, that would be foolish.
I’m just chattering.

by William Stafford

In line at lunch I cross my fork and spoon
to ward off complicity — the ordered life
our leaders have offered us. Thin as a knife,
our chance to live depends on such a sign while others talk and the Pentagon from the
is bouncing exact commands: “Forget your faith;
be ready for whatever it takes to win: we face
annihilation unless all citizens get in line.”

I bow and cross my fork and spoon; somewhere
other citizens more fearfully bow
in a place terrorised by their kind of oppressive
Out signs both mean, “You hostages over there
will never be slaughtered by my act.” Our vows
cross: never to kill and call it fate.

“still I rise”
by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you!
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs!

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I hear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

“Let Your God Love You”
by Edwina Gateley

Be silent.
Be still.
Before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Let your God—
Love you.

SYF 15
“Brother, Sister, let me serve you”
words by Richard A.M. Gillard

Will you let me be your servant*, let me be as Christ to you,
pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey, and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other walk a mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together of Christ’s love and agony.

Will you let me be your servant*, let me be as Christ to you,
pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.

* these are the words to this hymn used in several hymnals for a more inclusive personal sense to this hymn.


what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God
Micah 6.8
Take a moment and reflect in silence
Reflect upon your week,
Who do you miss from the church?
What activities do you miss?
Is there any thing new you would like to try?
How are things with in your spirit? In your life?
What do you celebrate…..

When you are ready pray, reflect, and open your heart….

“night chant, a Navajo poem”
from Memory of Fire: Genesis
by Eduardo Galeano (South American Poet)

House made of dawn,
House made of evening light,
House made of dark cloud…

Dark cloud is at the house’s door,
The trail out of it is dark cloud,

The zigzag lightning stands high upon it…

Happily may I walk,
Happily, with abundant showers, may I walk.
Happily, with abundant plants, may I walk.
Happily, on the trail of pollen, may I walk.
Happily may I walk.

May it be beautiful before me.
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.
May it be beautiful all around me.

In beauty it is finished.


SYF 198
We’ll build a land
words by Barbara Zanotti

We’ll build a land where we bind up the broken, we’ll build a land where the captives go free, where the oil of gladness dissolves all mourning. O we’ll build a promised land that can be.

Come build a land where sisters and brothers, anointed by God may then create peace: where justice shall roll…. down….
like waters, and peace like an ever flowing stream.

We’ll build a land where we bring the good tidings to all the afflicted and all those who mourn. And we’ll give them garlands instead of ashes. O we’ll build a land where peace is born.

Come build a land where sisters and brothers, anointed by God may then create peace: where justice shall roll…. down….
like waters, and peace like an ever flowing stream.

We’ll build a land building up ancient cities, raising up devastations of old; restoring ruins of generations. O we’ll build a land of people so bold.

Come build a land where sisters and brothers, anointed by God may then create peace: where justice shall roll…. down….
like waters, and peace like an ever flowing stream.

Come, build a land where the mantles of praises resound from spirits once faint and once weak; where like oaks of righteousness stand her people. O come build the land, my people we seek.

Come build a land where sisters and brothers, anointed by God may then create peace: where justice shall roll…. down….
like waters, and peace like an ever flowing stream.

We know what is good,
so let’s get to it…
be just,
do justice,
work for just relations within all humanity, all creation.

love mercy,
do mercy,
forgive and be forgiven for the sake of all humanity and all creation.

and may we walk this good green earth in all humility and wisdom…
so that all life may have a chance to live.


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