Ground of being, ground of love:
Prayer means attention. That to which our hearts attend directs our energies. Let us then pause from usual cacophony of demands upon our attention and direct our heart on purpose. Let us bring intention to our attention.
Let us attend to our ultimate aspiration: to be people of compassion, living in connection, sensitive and responsive to pain even as we are bathed in wellsprings of peace and joy.
We remember today the more than 700 muslim pilgrims on Hajj near Mecca who died in a stampede Thursday.
Let us remember when thoughts of judgment arise because others are not like us that this is often in their favor -- though we find that hard to believe. This week bombs in a Sanaa, Yemen mosque killed worshippers celebrating Eidh-al-Adha. Bangladeshi bloggers were killed because they expressed ideas contrary to fundamentalist Muslims; and so with ISIL in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Nigeria. Judgment of others as not like oneself is a violence, and every country, every heart, has known this violence. It may kill bodies or may seek to wound spirits by marginalizing, ignoring, humiliating, and otherwise denying others' intrinsic worth and beauty. Let our hearts open in compassion.
Let our hearts hold the suffering of so many in Sumatra, due to fires which have been raging for several months, causing high levels of air pollution in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
Let our hearts hold the people of California affected by the fires there -- and gratitude for the firefighters, including some prisoners used as volunteer firefighters, helping others and perhaps finding a new purpose in life.
Let us be a people who turn toward, not away from tragedy, and are keen to turn tragedy into opportunities for new cooperation, connection, and the fostering of beloved community.
This week we learned about corrupt practices of many multi-national companies and governments – from German car manufacturer Volkswagen to various governments in recent history including Germany, the US, France, Panama and the United Kingdom teaching how to interrogate with torture methods that leave no physical trace. In Kenya, 500 police officers have been charged with crimes including murder. These are our siblings wreaking harm upon our siblings.
Let our hearts attend and seek ways to mend.
Let our hearts hold in gratitude the people of Europe who have opened their homes to refugee families. Particularly in Greece, people struggling themselves to survive are caring, feeding, and providing tents to arriving refugees. May we heed their model. Let our hearts hold in gratitude the high-tech work towards helping those paralyzed to have the hope of walking again -- and low-tech ways of improving agriculture in countries struggling with hunger and declining water supplies.
Let our hearts find inspiration from Pope Francis visiting among us. Some Catholic doctrine we do not share -- we are conscious of the harm wrought -- yet here, too, our Unitarian heritage reminds us that we need not think alike to love alike. Let us actively encourage the good this Pope represents and manifests. Let our hearts open to his call to care lovingly for this planet and for the people which populate it. Let our hearts hear his call for mercy and justice.
That to which our hearts attend directs our energies. Let our hearts and our energies be directed -- ever more gently, ever more strongly -- toward love.