The Art of Reinvention

Presented April 24th, 2022      Rev. Fiona Heath

We are creatures of imagination. We’ve thought up the most marvellous things – like Disney World, like espresso machines, like hot air balloons – and the most terrible – like nuclear bombs.

We imagine the world and it comes into being. It’s astonishing to think of how everything we take for granted as just the way things are –money, cars, hair dryers, chairs  – were once nothing but a moment of imagining – what if?…

One hundred and fifty years ago there no such thing as a car.

It’s astonishing what we have made up. We imagine the world and it comes into being. All of human society is constructed out of our imaginations.

There is no such thing as capitalism in nature – it’s just an economic system we made up.

Democracy, highways, health care. These systems that we have created, which have evolved and even taken a life on a life of their own, they aren’t working so well right now.

The unfettered growth of capitalism is hitting the limits of the earth’s capacity, and sinking under the weight of greed.

Democracy at large scales is hard to manage, too easily influenced by wealth, too remote to hear all the people. The sheer size of the human population is overwhelming capacity.

Overgrown and shaggy, our social systems are starting to crumble at the edges, slowly decaying back down into the earth.

And in that decay, new ways of being, new stories to tell, new things that restore, that heal, are starting to sprout. Tiny and fragile but present if you pay attention.

People everywhere are reimagining the world. That’s a good thing.

In 2014 the brilliant writer Ursula K Le Guin said: “Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope.  (Words are my Matter,  p113)

Hard times are coming, she’s right. And we’ll be wanting the voices – not just of writers, but of activists, of parents, of scientists and religious folks – who can see other ways of being.

Ways that can help heal the climate crisis, that can change economics as we know it, that can make a world more just, more inclusive.

There are real grounds for hope. Right here, right now. Seeds are sprouting.

Some of the voices, some of seeds are from people of the chalice. Our ancestors re-imagined what Christianity might look like when people read the bible for themselves, our ancestors re-imagined what a religious community might look like if we moved beyond tests of belief like creeds, we are re-imagining what worship might look like, with circle set ups and flower ceremonies.

We are a religious tradition well versed in the art of imagination.

This is a good and powerful thing, to be people willing to experiment. It can also be a challenge. In a society that puts an emphasis on perfection and professionalism, it’s hard to be enthusiastic amateurs.

Mistakes will be made and will be made by us. And they won’t be failures, just learning opportunities, ways to discover our limits, our essentials.

All we do is part of the path to becoming. If we keep trying, if we keep learning, planting seeds of our UU vision of a world of interdependence, love and justice, we will help create new ways of being, new systems of restoration and healing.

*

Wait and see, wait and see/What a world there can be/If we share, if we care, you and me.

History tells us it is true – life is better when we share what we have, when we care for each other – and our life as a chalice community shows its truth.

We are better together, especially in this time when the climate crisis is getting worse, when things are crumbling into compost. It’s not hard to be a little worried, a little fearful about the future. As the saying goes, if you aren’t worried you aren’t paying attention.

But I remind myself that making compost is a good thing. it takes time but it’s worth it –  life decays so new life can emerge.

All things come to an end, not without pain and grief and trouble, but this is the earth ecology we live within.

Products of our human imaginations also have a life cycle – they have their time in the sun and then fall away for new things. That’s good – oil and gas are giving way to wind and solar power.

I am never not grateful that corsets and foot binding are no longer the norm for women.

The old falls into compost which nourishes the new life emerging. The time of decay creates fear – we can see that so sadly all around us – the fear of change that causes people to cling even harder to the old ways – people focusing on problems and flinging blame at others.

Composting is inevitable, but we don’t have to get stuck in the dirt.

We can focus instead protecting and tending to the new sprouts rising up. they are already here, but they need care. It’s too easy to trample fragile seedlings.

In times of fear, people destroy what they don’t understand, things that signal too much change. New plantings need advocates and gardeners.

As activist and writer Adrienne Maree Brown says: “we need to be investing our energy, attention and resources in generating alternative and sustainable [systems]…Our attention is as precious and precise as sunlight. If we put it on each other’s flaws, we can burn each other out of existence. But if we put it on the best of us, on the lessons, on the children, on our practices — we will grow. https://humansandnature.org/additional-recommendations-for-us-right-now-from-a-future/

Our attention is as precious and precise as sunlight, so direct it towards the things we value, the things we cherish, and we generate the alternatives that help heal the earth. Like planting gardens that bring beauty and health, like taking care of one another in times of crisis, and raising children with love.

When we turn our attention on the best of ourselves, we grow, we flourish under that necessary sunlight.

Let us continue to put our precious attention towards generating the world we can imagine – that we know is possible – where all people are cared for, where the earth is cared for.

 

*

Movement Meditation:  Energy Flow

Instead of a quiet meditation time we are going to use our imaginations for a movement meditation.

We are going to align ourselves with the flowing energy of all that is. Get our bodies and spirit moving together. Or get into the groove.

Deep breath in.

This works just as well sitting as standing. Get yourself firm on the floor and straighten your back.

Lift your arms up and out, pulling in the energy from the air. Move your body and arms back and forth, like water flowing.

Bend down and scoop up energy from the earth, three times.

Pat your chest, bringing the energy into your heart, three times.

Deep breath, hug or hold yourself and feel the energy flowing in you and through you.

Bring your hands together and bow to your neighbours  – on the right, in the front, on the left.

(repeat three times)

All that is, all this energy is ours to share.

 

*

All our lives we are reinventing ourselves – we grow from children to adults, some of us move from being single to being part of a couple and sometimes back again, some become parents, we change careers, we move houses or cities or countries.

All of what we do changes us – life is change as Octavia Butler says. And change – or growth – can be slow at times – often unnoticeable to those in the middle of it – but clear to others.

Which is why aunts and uncles begin most conversations with younger relatives with “My, how you’ve grown.”

We take on new identities and shed old ones, trying to become ourselves, to find meaning in our lives, to find those connections that sustain us.

The compost heap of the heart breaks down all we throw at it, successes and failures, delights and hurts. All – over time – if we let it – becomes the fertile soil keeping our spirits nourished, fresh green leaves unfurling.

The Fiona of today, partnered, mother of a child now grown, UU minister is not the Fiona of eighteen, single anxious, ambitious, agnostic. And yet I am both, the one has led to the other.

Knowing that this process of compost and regeneration has happened to me over and over again in my own small life helps me accept it happening in society as well.

Decay, compost and regeneration are the norm. This may be a time of systems falling apart, which will cause chaos and pain and grief and trouble, but even now there are seedlings of new ways appearing in the cracks.

Seedlings that need the precious sunlight of our attention.

We can create the better world we imagine, if we advocate. If we share, if we care.

I have a poem written last year for Earth Day by a young poet named Jordan Sanchez that sees the possibility of now.

All we’ve known is to destroy like it’s breathing…

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

How lucky we are to live.

We are a fraction of a second

In earth’s lifetime

Yet she is our only lifeline.

Resilient, we stand on our own two feet.

I’ll tell you, reimagining the future has never tasted so sweet.

Like nectar to a bee,

Honey to a home.

We’re trying to recover ours, but

No one can do this alone.

 Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

The promise of restoration lives within us.

We see her in the hues of the youth

And she’s asking you

What will you stand for?

 Now is the time for our re-generation.

Reimagine. Recreate. Restore.

https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/recreate-reimagine-restore-poet-jordan-sanchez-calls-greener-world

 

This is the time to reimagine the future, to work together, to tend to the garden so that one day – for our children’s children’s children – a world of interdependence will flourish where all are loved, all are cared for, and the earth rejoices.

May it be so.

 

So Say We All

 

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