Sacred Grounds Blog

Respect for the Interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Our seventh Principle may be our Unitarian Universalist way of coming to fully embrace something greater than ourselves. The interdependent web—expressed as the spirit of life, the ground of all being, the oneness of all existence, the community-forming power, the process of life, the creative force, even God—can help us develop that social understanding of ourselves that we and our culture so desperately need. It is a source of meaning to which we can dedicate our lives.”

~ Rev. Forrest Gilmore

Impetus for the Sacred Grounds – Our 7th Principle Writ Large

as interpreted by Rod Belshee

Connection to something greater than ourselves

Humans need connection to something larger than ourselves. For me it is nature. Over a thousand nights in the wilderness have generated great awe and respect. Nature is simultaneously non-caring and supportive and healing. The thunderstorm will bear down with no concern, and the ocean waves will restore your equanimity like no therapist ever could. I feel both insignificant and magnificently sufficient as a small part in a much more powerful universe. I can’t really explain it but it provides strength, comfort and a compass.

Nature is not something separate from us. Separation from nature leaves a large void in our soul. Individualism leaves us empty and rudderless. Buddhism teaches that connection to the larger world comes with diminishing our narrow view of self. Buddhism gives radically a different view of self than that of Western philosophy. It teaches that one encounters fear, pain and anxiety when a strong self-view separates us from the interdependent web of life. To live securely in the present moment means to live without ego, and not to strive to with individual ambition. The duelist belief of self being separate from others and from nature is the ultimate cause of human suffering.

A Cahuilla Concept of Nature

Dr. Gordon Clarke Jr., a UCR professor and Cahuilla tribal leader, shares some perspective. Nature is not a resource to exploit for gain. That pervasive concept is individualistic, short-term, and disconnected from meaningful relationship. It is about extracting wealth and ignoring the interconnected consequences. Dr. Gordon Clarke’s concept is that we are part of nature, one species among many though perhaps unique in our ability to sustain or to destroy the others.

He describes our reciprocal relationship and obligation. Humans are just one part of a larger interactive system composed of cooperating entities that share responsibility in the workings of plant life, animal life and the environment. Humans are not the center. He points out that Cahuilla language doesn’t have a word for nature, since it is so overarching. Our role is to tend to nature, make a blessing of thanks, nurture some seedlings, or pick up trash.

Leave No Trace

I am profoundly influenced by the Leave No Trace principles. We need to tread lightly on the land. “Take only pictures/memories, leave only footprints” has been attributed to Chief Seattle, John Muir, and Robert Baden-Powell.

It drives much of my relationship to the land. Everything that supports us comes from the land, whether copper and lithium for our electronics, oil for our plastic, or water for our gardens. There is no material thing that we created out of thin air. Every material item that you have ever possessed came at a price to the natural world. Every material item you purchase had an impact on the land.

It’s not about recycle, or even reuse. It is about reduce. Minimize your footprint. And it certainly negates the concept of “leave your mark”.

Connection with Nature

Some of us have experienced a deep connection to nature. I have been fortunate to spend a thousand nights in the wilderness, many months at a time. It is there that I both feel minuscule and sufficient. There is no striving, no fighting nature, no need to make my mark. Instead there is just being united with nature.

Being in the wilderness has granted huge gifts. I have watched a wolverine strolling up the path ahead of me. I have seen a dominate male gray wolf chase the juvenile male out of the territory. I have followed the track of a snow leopard. I have had mountain lions stalk me in the day and scream at me at night. None of these derive from pursuit or desire; they come from simply being still and observant in the wilderness.

Prior Posts

Earth Day Worship Service

Earth Day Worship Service

First, a huge thank you to Katie Barrows. The Barrows family of Katie, Cameron, and Colin is the undisputed First Family of our local natural lands. The family business has been protecting our native lands, being stewards, listening to and understanding interconnection of the other species, and inspiring more stewards. Please let’s acknowledge our gratitude to Katie and her family.

Our beautiful area is hurting. The eastern valley

read more
Sacred Grounds Update

Sacred Grounds Update

Remember the Sacred Grounds Initiative? After a long Covid hiatus, the Initiative will be starting back up.

History
Oh, didn’t Covid change everything? By March 2020 a large group of congregants had formed the Sacred Grounds Initiative, a vision for our amazing grounds that included support for the native plants and critters, plus nourishing human souls with places for meditation, connection and reflection. The minister spoke from the pulpit, a couple of congregation-wide meetings were held, and a Love-the-Land work party

read more

Sacred Grounds Blog Posts

Earth Day Worship Service

First, a huge thank you to Katie Barrows. The Barrows family of Katie, Cameron, and Colin is the undisputed First Family of our local natural lands. The family business has been protecting our native lands, being stewards, listening to and understanding interconnection of the other species, and inspiring more stewards. Please let’s acknowledge our gratitude to Katie and her family.

Our beautiful area is hurting. The eastern valley

Sacred Grounds Update

Remember the Sacred Grounds Initiative? After a long Covid hiatus, the Initiative will be starting back up.

History
Oh, didn’t Covid change everything? By March 2020 a large group of congregants had formed the Sacred Grounds Initiative, a vision for our amazing grounds that included support for the native plants and critters, plus nourishing human souls with places for meditation, connection and reflection. The minister spoke from the pulpit, a couple of congregation-wide meetings were held, and a Love-the-Land work party

Our Lovely Desert Iguanas

With the warming temperatures, our three pairs of Desert Iguanas should soon be making an appearance on our Sacred Grounds. First will be the youngsters who hatched last fall and should come out of their burrows for the first time this next week or so. Soon after, as the sand becomes reliably warm, the adults will appear. The Desert Iguanas are one of the last lizards to emerge because they are unable to digest their

Our endangered species re-emerges!

Our grounds are one of the few spots supporting the endangered Coachella Valley Milkvetch, which was once prominent on the vast sand dunes before we all built our houses. Our Sacred Grounds provides critical habit for this federally listed species. Most years we get a Fall crop but alas Fall was so dry that nothing sprouted. And with the dry January and February, it appeared this would be our first year with no germination. But those rains a few weeks triggered the milkvetch! We now have perhaps a dozen little tiny plants and one bigger one that is blooming. Blessed be our Sacred Grounds.

Our Lovely grounds

Our grounds are one of the few spots supporting the endangered Coachella Valley Milkvetch, which was once prominent on the vast sand dunes before we all built our houses. Our Sacred Grounds provides critical habit for this federally listed species. Most years we get a Fall crop but alas Fall was so dry that nothing sprouted. And with the dry January and February, it appeared this would be our first year with no germination. But those rains a few weeks triggered the milkvetch! We now have perhaps a dozen little tiny plants and one bigger one that is blooming. Blessed be our Sacred Grounds.

Rescuing Our Trees

Our gorgeous Palo Verde trees suffer from years of neglect. But the rescue has begun! The dead and diseased wood was trimmed out this Tuesday and Wednesday. Upgrading the irrigation for the trees continues into next week, followed by treatment for disease.

Our endangered species re-emerges!

Our endangered species re-emerges!

Our grounds are one of the few spots supporting the endangered Coachella Valley Milkvetch, which was once prominent on the vast sand dunes before we all built our houses. Our Sacred Grounds provides critical habit for this federally listed species. Most years we get a Fall crop but alas Fall was so dry that nothing sprouted. And with the dry January and February, it appeared this would be our first year with no germination. But those rains a few weeks triggered the milkvetch! We now have perhaps a dozen little tiny plants and one bigger one that is blooming. Blessed be our Sacred Grounds.

read more
Our Lovely grounds

Our Lovely grounds

Our grounds are one of the few spots supporting the endangered Coachella Valley Milkvetch, which was once prominent on the vast sand dunes before we all built our houses. Our Sacred Grounds provides critical habit for this federally listed species. Most years we get a Fall crop but alas Fall was so dry that nothing sprouted. And with the dry January and February, it appeared this would be our first year with no germination. But those rains a few weeks triggered the milkvetch! We now have perhaps a dozen little tiny plants and one bigger one that is blooming. Blessed be our Sacred Grounds.

read more