(With guest musician Pamela Schenk)
Introduction to Our New Joys and Cares Ritual
One of the things I’ve always found kind of sad about the candles we light on Sundays to make manifest our joys and cares is that at the end of the service, we just kind of blow them out. When I do it, I try to do it reverentially, knowing what they mean to people, but still, I’m just blowing them out. Afterward, it’s almost like they were never lit.
Now, much to the happiness of the fire marshall and the insurance company, and the few people who find it difficult to breathe amidst all those candles, we’re going to be doing some thing a bit different, something that ultimately will be a little more permanent than the flames.
You took a stone from the basket by the joys and cares book as you came in. Did anyone miss it? Do you need one? [Direct the ushers to distribute while I talk.]
I’m going to ask you to hold on tightly to your stones during the silence, and kind of infuse them with all of your joys and cares, the intentions with which you’ve lit candles in the past.
The stone can be the container your joys and cares, or the simple act of doing something together can be the vehicle for them.
You can think of this as profoundly spiritual, and be very intentional it, so that stone really is a manifestation of your prayers for everything and everyone that matters to you.
If that feels too wiggy woo woo for you, you can think of this as a symbolic gesture of your hopes for your loved ones and the world.
You can come up and put your stone into this bowl, or you can take it home with you. Forever. Or for the week, and put it into the basket next Sunday. Or, you can just put it back in the basket in the narthex on your way out.
There is no wrong way to do this.
I’m going to start by using this stone. When my husband and I first met, we lived more than a thousand miles apart. We’d only see each other every couple of months for a few days at a time, so we got these heart shaped stones. We’d each carry one for the whole time we were apart, then, just before parting ways until our next time together, we’d trade stones. It was a little thing, but it was a nice way of always feeling like we had a little piece of each other in our company, wherever we went.
When the bowl gets full, instead of just dumping it out somewhere, or putting the stones back into the basket to be recycled, we’ll put them into the yard by the front doors, so that as we come into the building, we are surrounded by the accumulated joys and cares of the months and years.
And one of the heart shape stones Joe and I exchanged will be part of that history.