Thoughts on Giving

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This temple talk was written and voiced by Pilgrim Bree Lloyd November 1, 2009

There is a dogwood tree planted in Lawton, MI in honor of my grandpa who passed away this summer. My grandpa was no environmentalist. It would perhaps be accurate to say any stewarding he did of the earth was accidental, though I don’t know for sure. But I know up until the end of his life, he was still getting speeding tickets, and family stories of him include his using dynamite to uproot a tree trunk in his back yard, among other things.

Still, he loved wild spaces and spent much of his life on one wild adventure or another—on horseback in Wyoming or fishing in Canada. It is a love that I inherited from him, however muted. I have had the opportunity to experience glorious vistas of Lake Superior on Isle Royale and to experience on various trips through Minnesota’s waters, utter silence broken by the haunting depth of a loon’s cry.  

In moments and places like these when I can fully experience being surrounded by so much life that will outlive me, such beauty that reflects my quite small place on this planet, and even the absurd precariousness of life, I seem so often filled to bursting with awe and gratitude. Evoked is a deep response of “thank you.” I suspect my grandpa was drawn to wild places for some of the same reasons. The stewardship I do of the life around me including at Pilgrim, I know to be deeply connected to this gratitude.

At times, held by the brilliant colors of fall leaves, I remember why I might buy one less plastic container. And at times, held by the same spirit at a Celtic or Nordic Service, I remember why I might give another night of ushering or offer a few more sustaining dollars. 

In the same way that I, my Grandpa, and others experience the soil and sky that outlive us and the beauty that reminds us of our finiteness, I experience the longevity and wonder in the Life that infuses Pilgrim. Like trees and rocks hold stories that have and will far outlive me, I understand that so, too, does the living community that includes Pilgrim. I am held in amazement and respond to the Life that gives by giving, though always in process. And so it is, for example, that a renewed worship space for us, for younger others and yet unborn is like the beauty and shade during hotter days of a mutured dogwood.

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