WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Kinship with the World

By Lindasusan Ulrich

“We can believe something to be true without it making much difference to us, but we place our faith only in something that is vital for the way we live.”
—Harvey Cox

Last spring, whenever I drove home from work, I’d keep an eye out for the being I came to call My Bird Friend. The lake I pass daily has part of a submerged tree—it barely sticks up out of the water, visible for a few seconds during a break in the shrubs and trees. And almost every day, I’d see a heron hanging out on this piece of wood, folded in on itself like an origami puzzle. Nature’s persistence in the midst of the city always makes me feel more connected to the world beyond my skin.

From behind, a child holds a camera at the edge of a river. In the distance, and through the camera screen, there's a heron faintly visible.

As spring turned to summer and summer turned to fall, I didn’t always see the bird. At some point, I realized it must have headed south for the winter. Yet I kept looking. For those few moments edging around the curve with a clear view, I’d search for My Bird Friend. Even after the weather turned cold. Even after the lake was topped with ice. Even after my logical brain knew for sure I wouldn’t see it. I kept searching as an act of faith.

Then one late winter day, I came around the corner and saw birds in the lake! But they were a pair of swans, far in the distance. A few days later, more birds appeared! Alas, this time it was a family of geese sitting atop a frozen sheet of ice where the edge met open water.

I have no idea whether My Bird Friend will be back. Perhaps it found a mate and happily settled down to raise a family by some other body of water. Perhaps something happened to it during migration. Perhaps another bird has taken over the territory. In the midst of all of these uncertainties, I keep searching for My Bird Friend—my kin—knowing we belong to each other and to this beautiful world.


May we feel our interrelatedness with all beings on earth, both human and non-human. May we remember always the belonging that is ours simply because we were born. May we place our faith in the strength of those connections. Blessed be.

About the Author

Lindasusan Ulrich

Rev. Lindasusan V. Ulrich (they/them) is a minister, writer, musician, and activist dedicated to radical inclusion, deep collaboration, and courageous kindness. Lindasusan has served congregations in Connecticut, Michigan, and Minnesota; is a certified spiritual director; and identifies as a...


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