Even though I did little walking today, I count it as the symbolic start of my WALK. I visited the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston where my sister is a member, and was invited by the minister to deliver the benediction at the end of the service - an amazing service that started with a song about our love of nature, moved through a sermon that spoke of how fear constricts and grace surprises and lets us move ahead, and a song that proclaimed "When the Spirit says Go, I Go." I felt that the service had been designed to help me on my way.
These were the words of my benediction: "I bring you a blessing of love and gratitude for our Earth, for its beauty, its fierceness and its mystery; and I take from you the blessing of your strength and commitment to creating a better future. May we go from this place of worship in peace; may we walk gently on the Earth. Amen."
In the afternoon my sister and I drove down to Galveston, past the huge refineries, over great bridges and causeways, and into a city that has suffered two big hurricanes in the past years: Rita, in 2005, and Ike in September of last year. I needed to go to Galveston because the Gulf Coast from Galveston to New Orleans has become the beacon symbolizing the vulnerability of the land, the people and animals, and the plants in face of global warming.
A small but wonderful group of members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Galveston County met with us in front of their church at the eastern end of the island. I was glad that one of them brought her dog, Collie, to represent all the pets and other animals. I told them about my walk, why I was doing it and when and where, then we went down to the beach along the Gulf Coast for a sounding. We stood in a circle to listen to the sounds around us - silently for a full minute - then shared our sense of the power of the waves, the strength of the gulls, the vulnerability of the people. I asked them to share with me their stories of hurricanes, the evacuations, the losses, the starting over - waiting in lines, eating Red Cross meals in the streets when there was no electricity, deciding to stay on in Galveston despite the belief that there will be another big storm, and another... I am grateful to them for helping me understand a little of what it's like to live through a hurricane and its aftermath, and to love the land and their community.
I'd hoped to take the ferry across to Port Bolivar after the meeting in Galveston, to begin my trek along the coast to New Orleans, but I had to come back to my sister's in Baytown to deal with a couple of problems that emerged with the motor home on the trip down from Pennsylvania. I'll tell you about that tomorrow.