This hands-on ritual could be used to celebrate Earth Day, a Solstice, or an Equinox.
Before the service begins, set up a table or two (or more) with several stations for people to plant seeds. (The number of planting stations will depend on your congregation, but one station for every 10-20 people will make for a 5-10 minute ritual.) Make sure that stations are positioned so that two people can work at each bowl of soil at the same time. You probably don’t want to have more than 20 people for each station, although if someone is playing a song people know and can sing with while they’re waiting to get to the planting stations, you can have more people for each station. If you have the materials to do this, using a circular table where you can place a bowl of soil at each of the cardinal directions with a symbolic item for that direction will add additional meaning for some members of your congregation.
Each planting station should have:
- a bowl of soil that’s supplemented with compost (available at garden shops; products labeled “organic” or OMRI are preferable)
- a spoon or a spade
- cups for planting seeds (e.g., yogurt or similar containers otherwise headed for the recycling bin, paper planting pots, or medium-sized paper drinking cups)
- a small dish with sugar snap pea seeds (have 2 seeds for each attendee), which are large and easy to handle. Other options: chard, kale, or spinach seeds. (Recommended: a variety that matures more quickly and has shorter vines.)
- one or two pitchers of water in a location that people can circle by on their way back to their seats.
- If you plan to keep the plants at the church so people can watch them grow, you may want to have wooden or cardboard flat popsicle-type sticks that people can write their name on.]
One way of reconnecting to Earth, in all her glory, is through the green growing things of this earth. Another way of reconnecting is through the food we eat. Instead of centering our worship around a sermon, today I invite you to plant a seed to honor our connections with Earth and with communities around the world.
[As you speak, demonstrate each of the steps to planting ritual:]
For this ritual, first take a paper cup and fill it with soil. This soil is Earth, nourishing our seeds, our life.
Compost is mixed in with this soil, because what is dead is still part of our world and nourishes new life. Nothing can live without all that came before it, without being part of the cycle of life.
In this way, the legacy of the past comes into today to nourish our dreams and our future.
Once you fill your cup with soil, make a little hole about half an inch deep.
We must create safe places, containers to honor the deep work that we each must do, to grieve, to hope, to connect. This hole represents what holds us. We know that we must grow out of it, and we need this place.
Take a pea seed and place it in the hole. Plant a second pea seed next to the first. This is because we cannot do this work alone. None of us can; we're all are in this together.
Cover your seeds and sprinkle a little water over the dirt. This is the water of life. While you are pouring a small amount of water on your planted seed, I invite you to think of all the blessings water brings to your life, the sacredness of water, and water justice as you do this. For Water Is Life.
You may take your planted seeds home with you [or tell people where they can place them to be kept at the church]. Keep watering them a little, place them in an area where they will have sunlight and, when you begin to see flowers, where bees can get to them, and see what grows. Hopefully in a few months you will have peas you can eat.
[Cue music director/musician and choir to begin music/anthem. If the choir is singing an anthem during the ritual, as I recommend, then ask the music director/musician to continue playing after the choir finishes so that the choir can participate in the ritual, too.]