This prayer was written on October 24, 2007, by Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh, minister of Tapestry, a Unitarian Universalist (UU) Congregation in Mission Viejo, California, and Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh, Adult Programs Director for the Unitarian Universalist Association. The Santiago fire, which had burned almost 20,000 acres that night, came within four miles of the Tapestry congregation’s building and rained ash upon it. Several families in the congregation (and Rev. John Millspaugh’s parents) were evacuated from their homes; many more families opened their homes to the evacuated.
Copyright: The author has given Unitarian Universalist Association member congregations permission to reprint this piece for use in public worship. Any reprints must acknowledge the name of the author.
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In These Days of Fire
Let us pause, and breathe, and be in touch
with the sacred presence that permeates all, including this room, now.
Web of All…of life, death, and renewal:
We open our hearts to those who suffer as a result of the California wildfires.
We have seen–on our televisions, in our newspapers, outside our windows–
the pillars of smoke rising by day,
the flames–tall as buildings–illuminating the sky at night.
Landscapes once familiar have turned alien.
The sun has turned red as blood, the earth and the plants turned black,
the air filled with ash that drifts like snow.
We have lost our homes and ecosystems, human and animal life,
And our sense of stability.
We have been reminded that all earth’s creatures
must one day succumb to death’s patient insistence.
Spirit of Life and Love,
In testing times like these we stand in awe before the mystery.
In these days of fire some of us have fled our houses in great haste,
And some of us, as quickly, have opened our homes to the stranger.
We have seen death sweep the landscape,
but we know life will renew itself, that the forests will rise again,
ecosystems will fill with life, and future homes will fill with love.
We know life renews itself even now,
as human good springs up in the face of disaster,
and women and men reach out to one another
within neighborhoods and across the continent, serving one another across every difference.
Web of all… of life, death, and renewal,
Through all the seasons of our lives,
May we find the courage to reach out in sympathy or need.
May we feel within us
the life force that stirs under the embers, waiting to be reborn.
May the compassion and care we have found amidst the flames
carry us now and remain with us as we move into those times and places
where we might more easily close our hearts.
We pray for strength, and finally we pray for gratitude:
for all that is not lost, and all that we can rebuild.
May we be the rebuilders.
Shalom, Salaam, Namaste, Blessed Be, and Amen.