“Renewal” Homily for Sunday March 22, 2020

Sunday March 22, 2020

UU Fellowship of Madison County


Carol Sommer



  • Good morning, everyone. As the events of these times unfold before me on a daily basis, I often find myself wishing there was something I could do. One small thing that occurred to me is that I could share a little about the topic of renewal on which I was going to speak this Sunday. So, I invite you to join with me in spirit and read these few pages if you wish.


  • I imagine that we would have started with some lovely music by Joan. Instead, I’ve had the song “There is a Balm in Gilead” on my mind. So, if you can, it would be good to copy and paste the link below to your browser and listen to this lovely choral performance before going on with the rest of this document.




  • Next the service includes time for joys and concerns. One joy I have had this semester is that I was teaching a new class on mindfulness that I developed last year. It was a great pleasure for me and well-received by students. One concern of course relates to all the changes our students, the EKU community, Richmond, Kentucky, and the whole world are going through right now. Additionally, all of you know of fellowship members who have been on our minds because of challenges that they or their families are experiencing. I would like to share something from my mindfulness class that I have been teaching the students and that is loving-kindness meditation. So take a moment to just focus on your breath … taking a few slow, easy breaths…. Just paying attention to your breath as it enters the body … and as it leaves the body…. Now while you continue to breath slowly and mindfully, allow your mind to take in the following statements:


May I be safe …

May I be peaceful …

May I be healthy …

May I live with ease.


Now bring an image to mind of someone you care about and to whom you would like to send a little love. Keep breathing slowly with an awareness of your loved one and allow your mind to take in the following statements:


May you be safe …

May you be peaceful …

May you be healthy …

May you live with ease.


Finally, bring an image of some group to mind. It might be the UU fellowship, or everyone in Madison County, or everyone in Kentucky. Continue to breathe slowly with awareness and while focusing on your chosen group, allow your mind to take in the following statements:


May you be safe …

May you be peaceful …

May you be healthy …

May you live with ease.


  • When I have spoken before, I have turned to esoteric Christianity to share a little bit about my search for spiritual renewal, but today for my homily on renewal, I thought I would talk about the same thing from a different perspective: the poetry of the Sufi mystic Rumi. He was born in the early 13th century in Afghanistan and then later lived in Turkey. He is a very interesting figure. His poems have often moved me to consider the multi-layered meaning in his verses.


As we have just passed through the vernal equinox and spring flowers

are once again emerging, it is easy to think about renewal, and the

source, and the cycles. In The Essential Rumi (translations by Coleman

Barks, Castle Books, 1995), Rumi provides a point of departure for us to

consider renewal. Take a look at the following poem.




Again, the violet bows to the lily.

Again, the rose is tearing off her gown!


The green ones have come from the other world,

Tipsy like the breeze up to some new foolishness.


Again, near the top of the mountain

The anemone’s sweet features appear.


The hyacinth speaks formally to the jasmine,

“Peace be with you.” “And peace to you, lad!

Come walk with me in this meadow.”


Again, there are Sufis everywhere!


The bud is shy, but the wind removes

Her veil suddenly, “My friend!”


The Friend is here like water in the stream,

Like a lotus on the water.


The narcissus winks at the wisteria,

“Whenever you say.”


And the clove to the willow, “You are the one

I hope for.” The willow replies, “Consider

These chambers of mine yours. Welcome!”


The apple, “Orange, why the frown?”

“So that those who mean harm

Will not see my beauty.”


The ringdove comes asking, “Where,

Where is the Friend?”


With one note the nightingale

Indicates the rose.


Again, the season of Spring has come

And a spring-source rises under everything,

A moon sliding from the shadows.


Many things must left unsaid, because it’s late,

But whatever conversation we haven’t had

Tonight, we’ll have tomorrow.





I just love this poem. I see each of the flowers reaching out to others

with the joy of the life force once again surging through them. The

Friend of whom Rumi speaks present in all. After a long dark winter or a

long dark night of the soul, we naturally want to turn toward the

renewal of spring. If we were together this morning, this is the part

where I would have asked each of you to share what this poem brought

to your minds. So maybe you could just sit quietly and think about this

for a moment. We will miss the beauty of the community dialogue as

each of you would have shared with one another, but as Rumi said, “…

whatever conversation we haven’t had tonight, we’ll have tomorrow.”


  • Be kind to one another. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones. If you pray or meditate or visualize, the whole world could use a little extra TLC right now. I’ll leave you with a single verse from Rumi’s longer poem entitled, “The Wagon.”


Today, like every other day, we wake up empty

And frightened. Don’t open the door to the study

And begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.


Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.