Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 and Excerpts from Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
September 4th, 2022 10:30 a.m.
TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
By Rev. Nicole M. Lamarche
Good morning and happy Sunday on this Labor Day weekend, on what is for some, a holiday weekend. And we have a special guest with us too that we will hear from on Labor Day!
It’s good to be with you! I invite you now as we come to this part of our worship to take some deeper breaths and to let yourself arrive a little more fully. The hope is that we tune in deeper, to hear something beyond the surface and whatever it is we need to hear today.
Gracious God, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
She was running loose in a field- an adorable, little black bulldog, running loose, because she was abandoned by her breeder. Abandoned, because of the look of her face. You see, Baby, that’s her name, Baby, my brother’s dog, has a cleft palate. You might know that is a craniofacial anomaly where there is an incomplete fusion of the structures of the upper lip. It’s not entirely clear what causes this in humans or in dogs. And when my brother found Baby and brought her back to the breeder, and he asked why the puppy was discovered where she was, it was clear that Baby was left there, on purpose, Because from the breeder’s perspective Baby’s condition meant that she didn’t look well-made, , and from the profit point of view, Baby would never be able to be sold, therefore she was unworthy.
My brother told me that hit him hard when he heard that and while he really didn’t need a dog, he brought her home and I met Baby for the first time this summer.
Baby is healthy and beautiful inside and out. She is happy and sensitive to the energy and hurts of humans. When there is a scraped knee among any one of the five kids, she will be among the first to notice. Or when there is an invisible hurt, she finds her way there too, somehow sensing the need. Sitting there, as if in an act of solidarity, letting you know she has been through hurt too.
As many of you know, for the last few weeks, we have been exploring what we can learn from plants and fungi and thank you for all of the quotes and pictures and book recommendations you have sent my way! Over this month into the first week of October when we will also bless them, we will shift our exploration to what we can learn from the animals. What lessons do they have for us if we are open to them?
And today, as we consider these texts and these questions, I think one of the first lessons that we can learn is: unconditional love. Animals offer that both to other creatures and to humans and also to themselves.
To be clear, I don’t mean being able to think highly of oneself as in focusing on self-esteem. Rather, I mean a kind of unshakable feeling of worth, what I mean is living without a doubt, that how you showed up here on planet Earth is beautiful, and that your life and presence here at this time, in this place, matters.
Or in the way that the Psalmist says it, living as if, we are, without question, wonderfully made. Do you feel that way? No yes. I know I struggle to feel that way sometimes.
To me, believing we are wonderfully made doesn’t mean that we believe we are without limitations, God knows that isn’t true for any of us. But what if the combination that makes up each of us, really is special? Really is beautiful just as we are? What if our set of cells in this arrangement might not ever exist like this again? What if there will never be another you in the history of the Cosmos? Does that make a difference to you? What if your special combination of cells is meant for here and now?
Would it change anything, would we live differently, if we saw ourselves as something like God’s art? As wonderfully made, intentional pieces- literal creations of a Force that wanted you here, just as you are right now? Would we treat ourselves differently? Would we treat one another differently? Look around the room. What if everyone here is God’s art?
I understand that it probably isn’t possible to get out of bed each day with one of our first thoughts being “I am fearfully made!” But I bet it would change things?
Would it change anything for you, if you saw yourself as something the Divine Force wanted here now, like this? What if there is a purpose that comes with your unique combination of you? And what if when we collectively, all of us are living our purpose, living out whoever we came here to be, what if that helps all of us find the thing we came to live for? Thomas Merton wrote, “If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.”
Are you living without a doubt, that how you showed up here, as you are, as a beautiful creation of God? Are you living as wonderfully made?
I know that the world sends messages that not all of how we are made is wonderful or beautiful, but what would it look like if each of us held and harnessed unconditional love for ourselves just as we are? I have struggled with that for myself, but I see with time and intention a peace that comes, when we find that love that is totally immovable by whatever is going on in the world.
I think of Baby and all of the creatures and communities that we humans have decided are not in fact wonderfully made. But that’s wrong and I love that part of the gift we give one another as being a part of a spiritual community is reminding each one of us: you are wonderfully made!
We are told and sold and made to feel like we can buy our way out of not feeling wonderfully made, but it is internal- that joy that cannot be taken away. And here we remember that each of us are wonderfully made and as we heard from Cheryl Strayed, we ‘Put ourselves in the way of beauty,” living deeper into whoever it is we are called to be with our own lives. Beloved of God, know that you are loved as you are, that you are beautifully, fearfully, wonderfully made. You are mysterious, irrevocable and sacred. May this be true for each of us. Amen.
© Rev. Nicole M. Lamarche