An Oasis in the Desert

© by Rev. Alison Wilbur Eskildsen

Centering Thoughts:

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? Psalm 42:1-2

What is agony of the spirit? To advance toward death without seizing hold of the Water of Life. Jalal al-Din Rumi

Don’t drink at the water’s edge. Throw yourself in, become the water. Only then will your thirst be quenched. Jeanette Berson

An approximation of shared remarks:

Lighting the Chalice

We come together as one community each Sunday.

Some come for healing and comfort after a week of great difficulty, such as the sorrowful week just passed.

Some come to remember we are not alone, that here we have companions for our life journeys.

Some come to affirm the worth of every person, no matter their citizenship status, religious beliefs, racial identity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other label that may divide us.

Let us light our chalice this morning. May its flame guide us on our journey towards the beloved community.

I now invite you to either come forward to drop a pebble in water for a silent prayer, intention, memory or hope you hold in your heart today. If you prefer, you may remain seated and center yourself where you are, as we enter further into our worship this morning.

Call to Shape Things of Worth (or Worship)

  • Days turn cooler, summer fun left behind as more serious work begins
  • UUFA new year starts with academic starts
  • We begin a new year, too, and an all-Fellowship theme: Fulfilling Our Promise
  • We UUs make implicit and explicit promises
    • We promise to be a beacon of liberal religion,
    • offering our house as a sanctuary for those with more questions than answers about this life we find ourselves living.
    • We promise to care about one another, to celebrate our joys together and hold us up when sorrow knocks us down.
    • And we promise to work together to make all our lives better, more fair, more just, even happier.

We’ll explore these promises and how we fulfill them throughout the year. This month we focus on Welcoming. So welcome, everyone! It is good to be together.

Opening Words

We traditionally begin our new year with a unique UU water ceremony, symbolic of our coming together as one. This ceremony will be experienced by UU congregations across the nation, if not today, then in the next few weeks as we all return, or gather in after what may have been a summer break for many.

  • Water is essential for life. Without it there would be no life on earth as we know it
  • Water revitalizes, refreshes, cleanses, and heals us
  • Yet despite our dependence on water, many may feel they are in a metaphorical desert
  • A geographical desert is barren of life, dry, lonely, desolate; wherever we look across the desert sands we may feel an absence of life
  • A metaphorical desert is one devoid of meaning, purpose, or community. It is a place where we thirst or yearn for what is missing in our lives.
  • Even in a desert, we can find an oasis. A refuge or sanctuary for what we most need or can find no other place. Perhaps friends, comfort, and understanding. Perhaps a place to serve something greater than ourselves.
  • May this Fellowship be such an oasis in a world that often seems devoid of love, meaning, even sanity. May this Fellowship be your place of connection, renewal, and sanctuary.

Closing Words

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of driving from Phoenix to Sedona, AZ. Late winter rains had just ended and the desert was in glorious, miraculous bloom. Bright orange poppies and hot purple verbena appeared everywhere, clear evidence that life will rise, even from a bone-dry desert. It simply needs the arrival of life-giving water to blossom into a riot of beautiful color.

May you be similarly showered by what you most need to blossom. And may some of that life-giving rain be found in this community.  Go in peace and Blessed Be.

Questions for Reflection or Discussion:

  1. When do you most feel as if you are alone in a desert? Is it a sense of loss or something missing in your life that places you there? How do you get out of this metaphorical desert, your thirst quenched?
  2. Does coming to the Fellowship feel more like going into a dry desert or finding a refreshing oasis? Share.
  3. What change, if any, do you most long for in your life? What might hold you back from making any change?