Alternate Activity 1: Spiritual Circle - Song, Story and Seed
Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of Singing the Journey, supplement to the Unitarian Universalist hymnbook, Singing the Living Tradition
- Optional: A recording of "Blue Boat Home"
- Seeds for butterfly gardens
Preparation for Activity
- Decide whether you will teach, perform or listen to the song, "Blue Boat Home", Hymn 1064 in Singing the Journey. The CD Earth Town Square by Peter Mayer has "Blue Boat Home."
- Consider inviting a guitarist or other musician to join you.
- Obtain seeds for all participants well in advance of this workshop, from a local garden shop or an online vendor; some offer combination seed packets specifically to grow flowers that attract butterflies, or hummingbirds.
Description of Activity
Consider this activity to conclude the Gather the Spirit program. Participants enjoy and perhaps move to a song, hear a story about planting seeds and receive seeds to continue their stewardship of Earth's resources.
Begin by asking the group to hear or sing the song "Blue Boat Home." Invite those who are willing and able to rise in body or spirit and move with the music in any way they like. The upbeat music suggests easy motion, and the movement may be a welcome break for people who have been sitting quietly.
Segue from the song with thoughts like these:
The song leads us to imagine that we are all boats, sailing around on our blue boat home, the earth. This is a beautiful idea and it certainly makes us want to take good care of the earth, its lands, and its waters. That's a big job, and we can't do it all at once or all by ourselves. But we can do our best and we can do a whole lot of little things to help. Now let's share a story that can help us think about what we can do.
Tell the story of God and the seeds. Here's a version included by Anthony de Mello in the book Taking Flight: A Book of Story Meditations (New York: Doubleday, 1990):
A woman dreamed she walked into a brand-new shop in the marketplace and, to her surprise, found God behind the counter.
"What do you sell here?" she asked.
"Everything your heart desires," said God.
Hardly daring to believe what she was hearing, the woman decided to ask for the best things a human being could wish for. "I want peace of mind and love and happiness and wisdom and freedom from fear," she said. Then as an afterthought, she added, "Not just for me. For everyone on Earth."
God smiled, "I think you've got me wrong, my dear," God said. "We don't sell fruits here. Only seeds.''
Ask group members what the story means to them. Help them understand ideas like these:
We can't always do everything we want. And we can't always be sure what our actions can accomplish. But we can do our best to take actions that will grow into good results. All our lives we can keep planting seeds to help make the world a better place. And sometime we will see that the results are good.
Ask participants to sit quietly for a minute and think about this. If it seems appropriate, quietly hum a bit more of "Blue Boat Home," and let others join in with you.
Move into the final part of the activity with words like these:
As we have gone through Gather the Spirit together, we have talked a lot about the stewardship of the Earth, about taking care of the Earth and all its resources, and doing what we can to make sure Earth's resources are protected and shared fairly with everyone. And we have talked about different ways that we can help. Today we're going to talk about a new way: planting butterfly gardens. Everyone can take some seeds with them to plant whenever and wherever you can.
Lead a brief discussion about butterfly gardens. Explain that these are gardens with flowers that attract butterflies. "But why do we want to do that? Are butterflies good for the Earth? Why?"
Say that in the web of all existence, anything we do for one part can help other parts as well. Plants help keep the soil from eroding. They provide shade that helps small forms of life to exist. They play a part in the water cycle. Butterflies are important in pollinating plants; when flowers attract butterflies, we will eventually have more flowers.
Give each participant a packet of butterfly plant seeds, and say you hope everybody will plant them, whenever and wherever they can. That can be outdoors when the weather is good. It can be indoors if people have a sunny place where plants can grow.
The seeds you offer should be for plants that will attract butterflies and that can be easily and successfully grown in your area. Some possibilities are aster, black-eyed Susans, daylilies, marigolds, and phlox. Googling "butterfly gardens" will lead to websites that can help you identify good plants for your own geographic area. See Resources for one good Internet possibility. The staff of any good, local garden store should also be able and willing to offer information.
Including All Participants
If any participants have limitations which could prevent their planting seeds and raising flowers, create partnerships of people who can assist each other with the project.