REMEMBRANCE OF LOST SPECIES
30th November 2020
Acknowledging loss, resolving to change and considering how you might stand between at least one species and extinction
RDLS website: https://www.lostspeciesday.org/
Tolling for the Dead: in our film “Why Celebrate Earth?” there is a record of simple service held at North Stoke Church in Wiltshire in September 2020. Watch the film – the service section starts at…….
Points here to think about:
list of lost species: taken from the Red Data Book (the IUCN list of endangered species) and Martin used English names as being references people are more likely to recognise
one voice recited the names with the church bell tolling once for each species
the congregation were invited to use the time for meditation, not necessarily on the named individual species but on our communal relationship with the world that lead to this situation and on their own personal circumstances
An outdoor version
A group I was working with did a similar event as a ceremony a few years ago. There were 8 of us sitting in a circle in a wood, each with a list of lost species. We took it in turns to read a name from our list (everyone had different lists), a ripple of names running round the circle. But one by one we fell silent: the recitations became a mantra moving each of us into silence and as the stillness claimed each of us we stopped reading and the next person waited before speaking so that each person’s reading space became a silent pause. This continued, with the silence growing as we all slowly stopped until at last there was only silence (and several people sitting in tears). That same principle of acknowledgement and resolution was there for all of us share afterwards (Gordon MacLellan, CE! arts coordinator)
Other resources to think about
You might look at the wonderful artwork of Ruth Evan’s “Extinction Files” – not speaking of lost species so much as those we should stand beside and protect
Loving Earth: this Quaker textile project invites people to reflect on their relationship with nature. You might create your own lost species quilt as a group or community project
Work locally: rather than drawing on a list of species from far-flung corners, you might like to assemble a list of more local losses and risks. This is especially good for challenging people to act on behalf of the animals and plants that live down the road or over the hill
You might also look at the work of the Peace Mantra groups to think about your own prayer or mantra or if you search for “nature prayers” lots of possibilities turn up, you might add your own particular faith to fine tune that a bit more)
Species champions: as one of the outcomes of your Lost Species event, people might become Species Champions. Scottish Environment Link’s Species Champions campaign challenged MSPs to become champions for individual species and to be prepared to campaign on behalf of that species. If that feels a bit too focussed, you might initiate a series of Habitat Champions and as an individual you might decide to work for the good of a local woodland, a marsh, a rocky outcrop
The extinked project has finished now but it picked up that same champion thread, this time inviting champions to be tattooed with an image of the species on whose behalf they pledged to act
Overall, RDLS, should allow you to pause, to reflect on environmental change and loss, to acknowledge grief and find your own paths forward. You might not champion an individual species, or be tattooed with a hairy wood ant, you may not feel the need to champion a particular habitat, and a Lost Species event may help you share an awareness of the consequences of our actions in a profound and moving way with other people
Tell us about it: as a whole service or event, or as a reflective prayer, poem or thought
APPLE DAY IDEAS
celebrate the richness of local orchards
Originally designated 21st October when it was founded by Common Ground in 1990, Apple Day has grown to be one of the most successful of the “new” environmental festival days. Combining a sense of harvest richness with autumn fires, roasted apples, apple games and just having a good time outdoors in the autumn, Apple Days happen all over the UK through mid-October. Specific dates depend on local circumstances, but Apple Days offer ideal opportunities for CelebrationEarth! events: opportunities to share, reflect and respond to how we feel about the world around us.
Apple Day activities might include:
food – apple cakes and recipes are always well received
advice -on old fruit varieties, on cultivating apples or any garden fruit
new initiatives – working on, for or towards community orchards
tasting traditional varieties: revelling in wonderful names and rainbows of flavours
juicing: increasingly there re community presses that can be borrowed or rented for Apple Days and allow people to bring their garden apples for juicing
a wassail: a traditional procession to and through an orchard, with toasting trees to thank them for their bounty, singing wassail songs and possibly making lots of noise to scare away any evil spirits or mischance loitering among the autumn leaves
In 2020, there will probably be few Apple Days happening but we would love to hear of any that are taking place
The Common Ground book of Orchards, ISBN: 9781870364218, published in 2000 it is out of print but turns up in second hand lists fairly regularly
The Common Ground team also wrote: Community Orchards Handbook by Clifford and King, ISBN: 9781900322928
Then there are lots of websites and books about orchards and old fruit varieties while folklore and tradition sites will provide descriptions of wassails and their songs
The essence of this, however, is celebrating your own fruit trees in a way that suits your selves as individuals and as a community and supports your work and your trees so research, explore and improvise!
And tell us what you are doing!
A CREATION LITURGY
Adapted from The Advent Creation Liturgy first used at St George's Chapel, Windsor, in 1987
This is part of the Creation Liturgy that would have been used during CelebrationEarth! festival at St Albans Cathedral. Here is an extract; to download the entire liturgy, click the button below.
1. Listen now,
Be still and hear.
For Creation takes up its Maker’s call.
All Creation draws near to God,
Seeking light and warmth to dispel
The winter of our destruction.
Hear the voices of the world speaking
FINDING HOPE FOR THE WHOLE OF CREATION
This study pack has been designed to help churches and church organisations to reflect on our place within the whole of God’s Creation and to celebrate the hope that comes from engaging deeply with our faiths and with the rest of Nature. It draws upon key documents from the Orthodox Church., from the Pope’s environmental encyclical Laudato Si, from World Council of Churches materials and from the personal experience of its writer who has worked with the major faiths and Christian traditions worldwide for over thirty years. Its heart is the Bible and Christian tradition down the centuries.