Lament with Earth

Five seasonal events honoring the pain of loss through the liturgical year

“We know and feel in our bones that something primal is amiss. Our extended home is being eroded. It is essential that we stop and recognize these respond with sorrow, outrage and apology at these places touched by so much loss.”
— Francis Weller

So many of us know this truth voiced by Francis Weller. And yet, we have so few opportunities to express our sorrow, fear, sadness and yes, even despair about a future of life in a climate-changed world. It takes courage to touch the places inside ourselves where these truths live — those thoughts and feelings that likely keep many of us up at night, but are too often held inside us, in a space both alone, and lonely.

To create space for these feelings, The BTS Center had teamed up with The Many, an extraordinary group of songwriters, spoken word artists and liturgists to create Lament with Earth — five seasonal events which included original music, poetry, rituals, images, scripture and videos to reflect different seasons of loss through the liturgical year. These events were interactive, inviting you to pray and sing along. You were invited to bring your own sense of loss and sadness. We lamented together, and also shared that which has been a balm to our grief, strengthening us for the work we know awaits us.  

Meet The Many

The Many
is "an uncommon, intentionally diverse collective making music for people to sing together about peace and justice and a world where all belong."
Drawing on indie pop and gospel influences, The Many makes music to help give voice to faith and doubt, questions and fears, laments and longings, music that speaks to a non-violent God, a Jesus who is with us and for us, and to a Spirit that can't be easily defined or controlled.  
It's music for a movement of resistance to hatred and division, for reconciliation and restoration, and music that always reminds us "we are on this earth to love." 
Lead singers Darren Calhoun, Leslie Michelle and Hannah Rand came together around their shared love of music and commitment to honest expressions of faith, peace-making, economic and racial justice, and LGBTQ+ inclusion.

The Many are equally at home at a house concert, festival, conference or a faith-and-justice-grounded gathering of any kind. They do more than simply concerts — they create experiences in which they weave together music, words, images and liturgy into an engaging, participatory, transformational event.  

Past Lament with Earth Events

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Fall Event: Via Negativa, with the Element of Air
In the Fall, as the natural world becomes more still, and stark, we, too are invited to let go - to, in the words of Matthew Fox, "embrace the lonely, quiet moments in our lives when we are asked to sink into nothingness, to let pain be pain, and accept the mysteries of life." When the trees lose their leaves, spaces open up - and we can see things differently. We see the world starkly, as it really can be, absent the robust greenery that hides the structures of the trees’ branches and trunks - and, in the cities, can also hide the angularity of the built environment. 
In the same way, when we are stripped of our illusions - the false sense that the climate isn’t really changing, it was just a particularly hot, or wet, or fiery, summer this year - we can see things differently. We need to have our illusions peeled away, to face the hard truths of our times.  It is better to live in the truth. But we need to have real, loving company in order to do that... otherwise, in our isolation, we are far more subject to despair.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Winter Event: Festivals, with the Element of Fire
“The holidays... invite us not so much to dispel the darkness with light, but to enter the darkness with whatever light our consciousness brings. It is there in the darkness, as frightening as that might be, where we truly meet our spiritual selves. It is within the darkness, the unknown, that our creativity and our hope and our promise take root and have their home.” (Charles Blustein Ortman)
Festivals are times of miracles. Both the Christian story of the birth of Jesus and the Hanukkah story of the oil for the lamp point to unanticipated, and unplanned, miracles. And so many of the festivals involve candles or lights of some kind. How might we, even in our lament, make room for the inbreaking of the miraculous? What is illuminated differently by the candles of the advent wreath, or menorahs, or by solstice bonfires?

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Heart of Winter Event: Via Creativa, with the Element of Earth
In the winter, even as the natural world looks so lifeless, there is also the reality that creative things are going on which we cannot see.  Sap is rising in the trees which look dead, and bulbs and seeds are swelling under the ground which looks barren. We, too, are invited to seek, in the words of Matthew Fox, "the fertile moments in our lives when we find creative expression, and put words to our joy and suffering of our existence. Freeing creativity helps us to move beyond our sorrow or stagnation." Right now, the climate crisis certainly looks bleak - the damage which has been done is “baked in” to the future - this is true. And yet, there is an extraordinary amount of creativity, and life force, alive and working to save what can be saved, and to mitigate the effects of rising temperatures, sea level rise, massive migrations, and other profound effects of the climate crisis.  
Considering the element of earth, we are reminded this element is both something which contributes to climate change - because of the way it has been treated,  in extractive and exploitative ways - and yet also holds great potential to be a factor in addressing climate change, when understood and treated with respect.  

Together, we hold the space for both mourning and discovery, sorrow and inspiration.  

Thursday, April 21, 2022 

Spring Event: Via Transformativa, with the Element of Water

The shattered water made a misty din.
Great waves looked over others coming in,
And thought of doing something to the shore
That water never did to land before.
—Robert Frost, Once by the Pacific

Spring in the northern hemisphere is filled with holidays that draw us into the forces of transformation: the resurrection of Easter, the liberation of Passover, and Beltane, the ancient springtime festival of optimism and fertility. In Matthew Fox's words, "these are the prophetic moments in our lives when we are called to use our talents and gifts with the hurting, fractured, dysfunctional aspects of our society." What better element to guide us through the themes of transformation than water, itself a shape-shifter? Water, in all its varied forms, stirs our imaginations even as it gives — and takes away — life. Water is intimately connected to our climate-changed world — as storm and drought, as acidification of the ocean and rain, as sea level rise and rising saline levels of fresh water sources. And, water moves turbines, grows food hydroponically, cools desert-like air, and bears life into the future.  

Together, we lament, and celebrate, the transformative power of water, holding space for mourning and discovery, sorrow and inspiration.

Thursday, June 23, 2022 

The Season of Via Positiva, featuring All Beings

“In a healthy environment, our first spiritual moments are moments of awe and wonder, and delight. The mystics call this the Via Positiva. When we allow these gifts to penetrate our souls the organic response includes: gratitude, reverence, and joy.”
Matthew Fox

As days lengthen and temperatures warm, many of us are drawn outside to first-hand experiences of awe and wonder, and delight — the characteristics of creation spirituality's via positiva. Our creatureliness awakens and is enlivened by the blooming, burgeoning, bountiful world. Yet the more we are aware and alive, the more keenly we feel the threats to our fellow beings — the extinction of species, their loss of habitat, and the despoiling of dwelling places by powerful forces which threaten the extraordinarily diverse and resplendent world which we share with all that lives and breathes along with us. We welcomed you to join us as we celebrated and mourned, awakened and grieved, loved and despaired. Coming to be together, to share these feelings, thoughts, and sadnesses is the key to moving towards life.