Monday, March 12, 2012

Celebrating Cranes: Deepening our Wonder

Right now, the Platte valley in central Nebraska is filled with migrating birds and the sounds they make. This St. Patrick’s Day, the Green Team at St. Stephen’s invites you not only to wear green, but to be green and join us for our Sandhill crane celebration March 17 and 18.

St. Stephen’s in Grand Island designates one Sunday during Lent as Crane Sunday, a time to highlight the wonder people experience when they stand at the river at sunrise or sunset watching and hearing the cranes take off for the fields or return to the river for the night. That sense of wonder is spiritual; the wonder we experience at the river is connected to what we do and say in church on Sunday morning. Crane Sunday is meant to make that connection explicit and to provide a time and place for mutual reflection on this and other connections between the church and the wider world.

Along with our Sunday morning celebration this year, we will be gathering at the Nebraska Nature and Visitor Center  on March 17 to experience the wonder together outdoors and to participate in some activities to help deepen our sense of wonder. You’re welcome to join us for any one of our weekend activities or for the entire experience.

The Nebraska Nature and Visitor Center is hosting ornithologist, author, and photograper Paul Johnsgard for a 2:00 program, “Winter and Early Spring Birds of Nebraska”. The more we learn about birds, the more we wonder at their habits, their beauty, and their role in our ecosystem. After the program, St. Stephen’s will have the conference room available for people to rest or gather to talk or reflect, but with good weather forecasted, most of us will walk or sit outside to soak up the sights and sounds of early spring.

We plan to gather for Evening Prayer at 4:00, either in the conference room or a quiet place outdoors. Gathering for prayer allows us to share our interior prayerful response to the joy of spring and the return of the birds, and brings us back to the connection between our joy and wonder in God and our joy and wonder in God’s creation.

For those who want to see the sunset wonder at the river, we are joining a 6:00 walking bridge tour. The cost for this is $15; call theNebraska Nature and Visitor Center at 308-382-1820 for details and registration. Others may want to stop by the crane viewing site on Alda Road to see the sunset wonder.

At 9:30 on Sunday morning, we will continue our prayerful response at the church, gathering for Holy Eucharist, and reflecting on what we experienced outdoors and how it connects to what we are reading in Scripture and thinking about as the church at Lent.