Celebrating the Journey — Stories from the Road

Tuesday evening, September 1st
The participatory live-on-Zoom is from 7:00 -8:00 PM, Eastern. 
We will be open for tech checks and reviews beginning at 6:45.  If you will be joining from a less-familiar device, we recommend popping in early!

 

Please join PA IPL and the Stories from the Road team for a live-on-Zoom celebration with 

  • live song
  • prayers
  • storytelling and storyweaving
  • gratitude, and a glimpse forward
  • a chance toast to the road we have traveled and the spirit and community that continues to support and inspire our work together.

Our brand new Executive Director, David Heayn-Menendez will join us and offer an opening prayer.   Those who have donated to the Stories from the Road campaign have received invitations, and will receive the link on Tuesday morning, the day of the evening event.   We would love to have you there!

If you are a Stories from the Road donor, and did not get an invitation, please reach out to info@paipl.org right away.  If you have been meaning to donate, but haven’t yet— there is still time!

We will be checking email through 4PM on Tuesday 9/1.

Trees, Justice, and Faithful Learning

Bill Hemmerling, Friendship Trees

Our traditions refer to trees as rooted-and-reaching symbols, as wise teachers, or as important and respected resources. We have so much to learn from them.  In this post you will find several tree resources.  We’d like to do an additional post around our secular arbor day, so please share your favorite tree poems or stories (even if you’re sure we must have them!)

We begin with a poem we shared as the meditation at the end or our Sustained Advocacy call near Tu B’Shvat 2019, and continue with hands-on work PA IPL groups are leading, and two learning and worship resources.

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.
Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.
Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.
After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.
                                —Wendell Berry

In several collections including This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems

Tu B’Shvat is a minor Jewish holy day that, in Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s words, “celebrates the bare beginnings pf the reawakening  of trees in mid-winter, and was seen by the 16th-century Kabbalists as the rebirth of that Tree of Life that has its roots in Heaven and its fruit in the existence and creativity of us — the whole of life.”

The festival itself and its amazing Seder come at the full moon on the 15th day of the Jewish lunar “moonth” of Shvat, this year from Sunday evening January 20 through sundown Monday January 21. That means it falls this year on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday.

Consider registering for the Shalom Center’s Tu B’Shvat webinar (webinar on January 9, 2019; Tu B’Shvat begins the evening of January 20, and is January 21this year — there are also webinars preparing for earth-climate-justice rooted Passover celebrations as part of their Sacred Seasons for Sacred Earth series.  The webinars include tools for holding your own celebration.

image source

Martin Luther King’s birthday (and birthday-as-observed) are always close to Tu B’Shvat on the calendar, but in 2019, they fall together.  While we focus on the struggle for civil rights for people of all races in our celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King and his work, in fact, the larger trajectory of his work was justice.  In 2014, Rabbi Daniel Swartz, then a board member of PA IPL, wrote this piece about the connections between the two holidays.

The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade left Pennsylvania when she took a job teaching at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky, but we remember her well, and are pleased to share this 8-week devotional connecting trees and faith “Healthy Trees, Healthy People, Healthy Faith”

intro   week 1   week 2   week 3   week 4
week 5  week 6  week 7  week 8

Each spring and fall, the Germantown Tree Tenders plant and tend urban trees in publicly-available space from sidewalks to houses of worship.  They do so in community, and often include opportunities to offer blessings and dedications (and sometimes chances for shared food together)

In Central Pennsylvania, under the energetic leadership of Greg Williams, groups of community members, the 3rd Way Collective from Penn State, congregants, and Central PA IPL regulars have been joining for work parties  to clear space for native trees and tender plants to thrive, adding diversity and resilience to our forest systems.  Much of this work has been removing invasive plants and staking out the beginnings of the native seedlings, but the have also done successful bareroot tree plantings, live staking (along the Juniata River), (over 600 trees in 2018!), as well as native wildflower meadow plantings.  Over time, inspired by a Joanna Macy practice called Honoring our Adversaries, they have challenged themselves to recognize and honor the tenacious and exuberant qualities of the very invasives they are working so hard to hold back so the diverse native plants can thrive.

We’ll close with this browsing link on tree writings over at Baha’i Teachings. 

links and resources from Facing the Climate Crisis: Called to Save our Sacred Home.

Our 2018 statewide Annual Conference Facing the Climate Crisis: Called to Save our Sacred Common Home was a wonderful conference, beautifully planned, filled with deeply generous leadership and participation.  It was also in Pittsburgh, on October 27, 2018, the day of the hate-motivated killings at Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill.  The terrible news broke just as the first people were arriving. Most people heard the news at the conference. We made space for prayers together, and songs and prayers already planned took on different significance.  A few were unable to be there. Those who were gathered found comfort in the chance to be in a community of caring.  By the time we adjourned, thanks to the strength of the Pittsburgh networks present, people left with times and places for multiple vigils and services over the next three days.

We will continue to share resources from the day here as they are shared with us.  We are so grateful to the volunteers, leaders, speakers, musicians,  sponsors and attendees who made it all possible.

opening

Rev. David Carlisle had to miss the conference to be fully present for a family emergency; Rabbi Ron Symons was called to respond to the shootings.

workshops and workshop leaders

Workshops and workshop leaders are all cross-linked on our Annual Conference page.  When “portable” materials are generously shared with us, we will share them with you — though they certainly will be pale compared to the richness of the interaction, leadership, and community of the in-person workshops.

PA IPL’s 2018 Visionary Award to Dr. Patricia DeMarco was beautifully received by Mark Dixon and Kirsi Jansa, who delivered the plaque and award citation to her after the conference.  We are delighted that Patty’s treatments have been successful, and she is now focused on regaining her remarkable energy.

These sponsors helped make the day possible
business sponsors

faith community sponsors

Gathering and break times were enriched by the presence of many allies at information tables.

Our delicious vegetarian lunch was from Baby Loves Tacos, and the amazing apples we snacked on were Stayman Winesaps from Penns Corner Farm Alliance.

Program book ads also helped underwrite the conference, and lift up the work of friends and allies.  Thank you.

 

Return to the home of your soul.

PA IPL’s 2018 Annual Conference was in Pittsburgh, on Saturday, October 27th, across the river from Squirrel Hill.  The terrible news broke just as the first people were arriving.  Most people heard the news at the conference.  We made space for prayers together, and songs and prayers already planned took on different significance.

Filmmaker Kirsi Jansa was there, and captured the audio from the song “Return Again” by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, led by Barb Ballenger, and sung by all present.  She set the audio to scenes from the following hours and days.  Despite what the screen below says, the video link will work well, it just will take you to Kirsi’s vimeo page.

Return Again from Kirsi Jansa on Vimeo.
Return again, return again
Return to the home of your soul
Return to who you are
Return to what you are
Return to where you are
Born and reborn again.

The song followed a shared litany that had the repeated line “We have forgotten who we are.”

Comments by the president of the national IPL network, the Rev. Susan Hendershot, and some further reflection about connections can be found on our Facebook page, where you are welcome to join in the conversation.

the power of song

At PA IPL’s 2014 Annual Conference, Climate Justice: Faith in Action  the Rev. Rhetta Morgan of the Ecclesia Spiritual Center drew participants in to the sanctuary for the keynote session by beginning her music in the sanctuary at Summit Presbyterian Church.  After a few announcements, she re-centered us and drew us close in Spirit for an excellent entry into our ably-moderated keynote panel.   Following the panel, Rhetta again led us in inspiring and energizing song, sending us forth from the keynote to the rest of the workshops.  Thanks to Peter Handler, you can get a taste of that here:

Prior to the workshops, participants enjoyed really fabulous refreshments from Weaver’s Way Co-op (with support from the Rock Ethics Institute), and fellowship and conversation with our Green Resources exhibitors.