Bowing to Our Adversaries

Coleen O'Connell

Coleen O’Connell

Sunday Message by Guest Speaker Coleen O’Connell

Message from Rev. Pat Bessey:

Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day? If so, you will relate to this. It seems every week I start this writing with a similar phrase – “it is a rainy, gloomy day” (Monday). Yikes… will this ever end?!

In spite of the rain today, Sunday was quite a nice day. We had a great speaker, Coleen O’Connell. Coleen shared the deep concern she has for our planet from her perspective as an ecological and environmental educator. Considering the factual data she has gleaned over the years, the decision made by the current administration to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement was very disheartening to her — as it was to many of us. So, what do we do with our feelings of frustration, anger, pain? She led us through a beautiful practice, called “Bowing to Our Adversaries” that can shift not only our own experience but place positive energy into the space. It is a gratitude exercise. It is done easily and comes from a Buddhist tradition.

You begin with celebration and gratitude for those who have impacted you in a positive way. It starts with the carrier phrase — either “I bow to” or “we bow to” — then you complete the phrase, ending with a bow:

We will begin by bowing to the Earth, in gratitude for life itself.

  • We bow to our ancestors who have paved the way and set us on our path.
  • We bow to our teachers and mentors who have guided us and been with us on our journey.
  • We bow to each other, our faith community, for showing up and being present for each other.
  • We bow to future generations who will inherit the good work, and the work left undone by our generation.
  • We honor you for the hope you give us in hard times.  We bow to you in gratitude.

Next, we bow to our Adversaries:

  • You who destroy the natural world for profit, you show me how much I respect and honor our abundant and beautiful planet home.  I bow to you in gratitude.
  • You bring forth in me the love I feel for this life-bearing land – its soil, air and waters – and for the community that rises in its defense.  Because of the strength with which I resist your actions, I learn how strong my love really is.  I bow to you in gratitude.
  • Because the pain I feel when I witness the pain of the world is no less than your pain – you who perpetuate destruction by cutting yourself off from the web of life, I bow to you in compassion.
  • Because the pain of greed, alienation and fear is not less than the pain of sorrow for what is lost, I bow to you in compassion.
  • For the power of my anger, arising from my passion for justice, justice for refugees that have suffered war and climate disasters, for immigrants who are treated as second class citizens or worse, I bow to you in gratitude.
  • Because we all want to feel happy, to feel intact and part of a single whole, for that shared longing of community and contribution, I bow to you in compassion.
  • Because your actions challenge me to see the limits to my own understandings, and free me from holding my view as the only correct one, I bow to you in gratitude.
  • You who teach me that the mind is a miracle, capable of manifesting as love, as forgiveness, as greed, as fear, as clarity or delusion, you who show me what I myself am capable of when I am governed by fear and greed – O Great Awesome teachers, I bow to you in gratitude.
  • Understanding that we all belong to the web of life, whether we believe it or not, and with love in my heart, I bow to you in gratitude.

Done as a congregation on Sunday, this was an incredibly powerful exercise. Should you choose to hear the whole message, use the player above.

Have a blessed week!

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey

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