The Interfaith Contact Group

The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group


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Heralding Hope for Planet Earth

January 27, 2021

With a change in world leadership came a great wave of hope, tinged with uncertainty. Whatever one’s views on the post-election activity on the other side of the Atlantic, one change for the better cannot be denied – the hope for The Earth. As the regime of the past drifts away in time, the return to a commitment to care for our planet brings newfound hope. With this in mind this week’s Words of Connection celebrates The Earth, and our love for our planet… and the happiness that nature, and honouring nature brings to all of us.

We open with A Wish, Prayer and Blessing for 2021 by the great pagan activist and writer — Starhawk. This was sent to Words of Connection by Penny Cloutte via Sheila Boyer, thank you both. In total contrast to this we have a selection of sacred readings, from the Psalms, Chief Seathl and Rabindranath Tagore. This is followed by a variety of writings in praise of the earth. We close with a dazzling poem by Mary Oliver.

The link we are offering today shows five hours of astonishing nature footage, which does seem a little long, but is definitely worth a look.

Please look after yourself at this most difficult and demanding moment in time. The gifts of nature are definitely worth contemplating, even if the weather is not as lovely as we might wish.

Very best wishes

IFCG Chair


May the isolation, fear and loss we have suffered in this past year make us more appreciative our friends, loved ones and co-workers; and make us more aware of how vitally we need community.
May the callousness, irresponsibility and corruption we have seen in power holders make us appreciate the value of truth, integrity and caring in our leaders.
May the barrage of lies, disinformation and conspiracy theories that flood the internet inspire us to hone our critical thinking and strengthen our capacity for good judgement.
May the injustices we have witnessed and suffered deepen our commitment to dismantle the systems of oppression.
May the fires, floods, hurricanes and disasters of this last year make us more aware that we are subject to Nature’s laws, and more determined to bring us into balance.
May this coming year be a turning-point – towards a world of more compassion, more caring, more integrity, more courage, more health, more regeneration, and more joy in being agents of justice and renewal!



From Psalm 24

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness;
The world, and they that dwell therein.
For he has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.
Who shall ascend into the hills of the Lord?
Or who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands, and a pure heart;
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive the blessing from the Lord,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.


The Beauty of Nature
Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918)

O God, we thank you for this earth, our home;
For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendour of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thorn bush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns forever and ever.


A Hawaiian Prayer

Let us give thanks for the world around us.
Thanks for all the creatures, stones and plants
Let us learn their lessons and seek their truths,
So that their path might be ours,
And we might live in harmony, a better life.

May the Earth continue to live,
May the heavens above continue to live,
May the rains continue to dampen the land,
May the wet forests continue to grow,
Then the flowers shall bloom
And we people shall live again.


Chinook Psalter

The garden is rich with diversity
With plants of a hundred families
In the space between the trees
With all the colours and fragrances.
Basil, mint and lavender,
Great Mystery keep my remembrance pure,
Raspberry, Apple, Rose,
Great Mystery fill my heart with love,
Dill, anise, tansy,
Holy winds blow in me.
Rhododendron, zinnia,
May my prayer be beautiful
May my remembrance O Great Mystery
Be as incense to thee
In the sacred grove of eternity
As I smell and remember
The ancient forests of earth.



Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)


Your light, my light, world-filling light, the dancing centre of my life,
the sky breaks forth, the wind runs wild, and laughter passes over the earth.

The butterflies have spread their sails to glide upon the seas of light;
the lilies and the jasmine flowers search on the crest of waves of light.

Now heaven’s river drowns its banks, and floods of joy have run abroad;
now mirth has spread from leaf to leaf, and gladness without measure comes.




Chief Seathl (1786 – 1866)

Every part of this soil is sacred to the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plane and grove, has been made holy by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be voiceless and dead as they swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people. And the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than to yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch.


Mary Oliver (1935-2019)


Needing one, I invented her – – –
the great-great-aunt dark as hickory
called Shining-Leaf, or Drifting-Cloud
or The-Beauty-of-the-Night.

Dear aunt, I’d call into the leaves,
and she’d rise up, like an old log in a pool,
and whisper in a language only the two of us knew
the word that meant follow,

and we’d travel
cheerful as birds
out of the dusty town and into the trees
where she would change us both into something quicker – – –
two foxes with black feet,
two snakes green as ribbons,
two shimmering fish – – – and all day we’d travel.

At day’s end she’d leave me back at my own door
with the rest of my family,
who were kind, but solid as wood
and rarely wandered. While she,
old twist of feathers and birch bark,
would walk in circles wide as rain and then
float back

scattering the rags of twilight
on fluttering moth wings;

or she’d slouch from the barn like a grey opossum;

or she’d hang in the milky moonlight
burning like a medallion,

this bone dream, this friend I had to have,
this old woman made out of leaves.