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Autumn Equinox Celebration

Autumn Equinox Celebration 2020

This year the moment of equal day and night happens on Tuesday, September 22. It will signal autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern.  Although climate chaos has altered weather patterns everywhere, the seasons — if not the expected weather — remain consistent. The following applies to Autumn Equinox. (For those entering Spring, please check out sites (including this one) for spring celebrations, or adapt this one
This image gives the general idea, but is  vastly out of proportion. See the image below for a better idea of Earth’s size compared to the Sun’s.

BACKGROUND: ANCIENT AWARENESS

The word equinox dates to the 14th century. Celebrations of this event can be traced to the Romans, Mayans, Egyptians, and Saxons.

Records of sky observations exist from about 8,000 years ago, yet some humans must have noticed the changes even before these formal breakthroughs. How awesome to imagine someone’s early “Aha”! What an awakening and cause for celebration! One wonders if early celebrations had any religious or spiritual significance.

WHAT’S REALLY HAPPENING

Our early ancestors could not have pictured what we know is really happening: our sphere, rotating to create day and night, is also hurling around the sun, 90 million miles away. Earth revolves around the Sun — which is our star — at a speed of about 18.5 miles, or 30 km, a second. It was happening aeons before humans evolved to observe it.

Some definitions of the equinox incorrectly imply that it is the sun that crosses the plane of the Earth’s equator resulting in equal parts of light and dark. Our awareness shifts when we realize that Earth has reached the point in its journey around the sun when its equator is in line with the Sun. We’ve known that fact for centuries, yet it is still a hard concept to grasp. We even persist in saying “sunrise” and “sunset,” terms that have been obsolete for many generations!

The white dot on the image shows Earth’s size relative to our star. The light we see and feel left that star eight minutes before we can see and feel it.

CELEBRATION

The Spring Equinox provides opportunities to celebrate new and increasing life and light. The Autumn Equinox invites us to to pause and ponder the essential other half of life: the transition to, and the experience of, death and darkness. 

The initiator of the following celebration might choose to create a lovely fall display for a center table. Arrange to have technology prepared on which to show the suggested video www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qyHuwy0bgw.

Leader: 

Welcome to this celebration of the Autumn Equinox and the beginning of a new season in the evolution of Planet Earth.

Reader 1: Let us celebrate the transformation of leaves from green hues to brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds as each leaf’s chlorophyll is depleted. Even the browns that follow are rich in beauty!

2. Let us celebrate harvests and pumpkins. Let us celebrate crisp air and compost, the combination of food scraps and brown and green matter — decomposed organic material that seems dead and yet will soon vibrate with life and become rich humus for enriching soil. 

3. Let us celebrate darkness, which fosters thought, gives candlelight it opportunity to shine, provides respite for animals (including humans). 

4. What else shall we celebrate? (Participants share.)

5. As we begin, deepen your awareness that we are held by gravity whether sitting, standing, or lying down. Imagine your place in your bioregion and its size. Continue extending awareness of your place until you feel embedded in your hemisphere and this entire planet. Our spherical home is relentlessly rotating East. Try to sense that movement. If you can see our star, remember that it is not moving; you, with Earth, are circling her. Imagine yourself where you belong on the image above as we journey around our star.

6. Ease yourself into this new season by watching the 6 minute video “The Autumn Soothing”: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qyHuwy0bgw

7. Optional: Share thoughts and/or feelings you experienced as you watched the video.

8. Say together: “For all that has been, Thank you. For all that is to come, Yes!”
(Dag Hammarskjold)

End this memorial with socializing including, if possible, refreshments appropriate for this season — using apples? pumpkins? squash?

Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource is here!

Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource: On Care for Our Common Home is now available at:

Laudato Si’ 11:18

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Goals of Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource

Pope Francis writes: I would like to enter into dialog with all people about our common home. (par. 3) That dialog is one goal of Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource. Others include gathering for prayerful reflection on this document, and deepening our appreciation of integral ecology and our call to care for our common home.

Advantages of Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource

  • Reading, praying, and discussing quotes from the Encyclical together provide a powerful experience and motivate further study;
  • Devoting the first of five sessions to the encyclical’s Introduction establishes a solid foundation for accepting the full document;
  • Scripture excerpts are useful now or any time, including Lent;
  • Pertinent videos and hymns enrich the sessions;
  • Practical weekly action suggestions lead to lasting commitments;
  • Material is free and 5-sessions are manageable.

home-planet-earth-1-638Reactions to Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource

The enthusiasm of pilot participants convinced me to change this resource from being a Lent resource to one of use now or any time (though it can be useful for Lent).

Here is an unsolicited response to this resource from Loreta N. Castro, Executive Director of the Center for Peace Education and a Professor at Miriam College, Quezon City, Philippines:

I love both the content and process! I think it gives a great balance between knowing about Laudato Si  and its core messages and feeling the love, empathy and connectedness with Mother Earth. I also appreciated the last section on “Suggested Actions…” 

Continuity of Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource

For over ten years I have provided resources that integrate Scripture, Christian faith, and care of Earth in the setting of the Universe Story, our resulting interconnectedness, and their connections to poverty, peace and justice in our world imbued with divinity. Past programs have focused on Air, Water, Soil, Energy/Light, Peace, Species/Habitats, and Ecospirituality. Laudato Si’ Reflection was originally intended for Lent (and its Scripture excerpts are from Lent’s readings, so it will be useful then), but pilot groups proved that it is effective now.     Some of the pilot participants:

Gather a group — family, friends, students, parishioners, neighbors, whomever — and experience the inspiration and transformation that Pope Francis’ words can bring.

Our Father in Aramaic

I confess: my least favorite English prayer-phrase — Our Father who art in heaven — is from the very prayer that Jesus taught us: the Our Father. But I would have liked the Aramaic version Jesus undoubtedly used. The English translation comes from a time when people did not question patriarchy or a three-tiered world, and I don’t live there any more. In my experience, people can KNOW that “God is everywhere,” but they still look up when they refer to “him” because we are conditioned to picture a man in the sky. Keeping God above creation makes it harder for people, e.g., to understand Pope Francis’ words in Laudato Si’: “We do not only exist by God’s mighty power; we also live with him and beside him.” (72)

About the language Jesus used 

UnknownFortunately for me and others like Shirley Favot,* who delight in knowing that the language Jesus used harmonizes with the world as science now understands it, Neil Douglas-Klotz published Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus (Harper & Row, 1990). He not only explains what the original Aramaic words mean, but explains the levels of meaning in the Aramaic language itself. He lets readers see the words written in Aramaic, he gives directions for saying them, and he offers suggestions for appropriate body prayers.

Douglas-Klotz tells us that each statement of sacred teaching must be examined from at least three points of view: the intellectual, the metaphorical, and the universal (or mystical). His phrase by phrase commentaries on the Our Father and the Beatitudes provide this rich fare. A very new question for me, when I read it shortly after its publication, was “What feelings do the sounds evoke?” He explains that body-resonance was important for those who first heard Jesus’ words.

“Heaven”

I was/am especially grateful for his explanation of “heaven” (which I included in Tuning to the  Divine: https://ecospiritualityresources.com/media/). “ ‘Heaven’ ” in Aramaic ceases to be a metaphysical concept  and presents the image of ‘light and sound shining through all creation.’ ” Wow!

“Father”

abwoon01aSo, if that’s what “heaven” meant to Jesus and his followers, what about the “Father” to whom he prayed? As he does with the others phrases, Douglas-Klotz offers a litany of possible translations. I appreciate them because I have long believed that, despite the advantages of using the metaphor “Father” for the un-nameable Mystery, its exclusive use contributes to anthropocentrism and to patriarchy/male dominance.

Additionally, using any one word exclusively for the unknowable can fool believers into thinking that they have captured the essence of the Mystery we also call God. This deprives believers of many other possibilities. Douglas-Klotz uses the following when translating Abwoon from the  Aramaic: Birther, Mother-Father, The Breathing Life of All, Source of Sound, Radiant One, Name of Names, Wordless Action, Silent Potency. While this list might not immediately appeal, trying other names — either to balance “Father” or to replace it temporarily — is sure to expand one’s understanding of the Holy One.

One Aramaic translation of the Our Father

What follows is the translation of the Our Father (KJV ) as found in Neil Douglas-Klotz’ Desert Wisdom: A Nomad’s Guide to Life’s Big Questions from the Heart of the Native Middle East (2010, ARC Books, www.abwoon.org), with gracious permission from the author:

O Breathing Life (Aramaic)

(an expanded, then condensed translation of Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 from the Peshitta version of the Gospels)

O Breathing Life, your name shines everywhere!
Release a space to plant your presence here.
Envision your “I Can” now.
Embody your desire in every light and form.
Grow through us this moment’s bread and wisdom.
Untie the knots of failure binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ faults.
Help us not forget our source,
yet free us from not being in the present.
From you arises every vision, power and song
from gathering to gathering.
Amen—May our future actions grow from here!

 

aramaic

*Shirley Favot, who lives in Canada, wrote: “I thought your website would be the perfect place to honour the deep story and to reclaim the “Aramaic Our Father” for us and for future generations . . . Jesus’ message of ‘The Companionship of Empowerment’ is so clear and hope-filled.” Since July 1st is Canada Day, I decided to post this for Shirley on that date.

Shirley first read the Aramaic Our Father on Diamuid O’Murchu’s web site under “Prayers”: http://www.diarmuid13.com/special-prayers. Neil Douglas-Klotz’ site is http://l.facebook.com/l/KAQHekVw4AQFX17J2pkuxfWJmCGZ5BeApUiwDsTlSk5d3Lg/www.abwoon.com