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Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson

Worship in the Woods

Worship in the Woods occurs monthly with hikes of varying difficulty.  Please see below for a taste of previous worship/walk offerings.

November Worship in the Woods will be “Rocks & Foundations”

October 25: Awe-tumn

Opening PoemOn the Trail

Worship in the Woods Order of Service

Theme: Awe-tumn October 25, 2022

Mt Lemmon: Bear Wallow


Welcome & Gathering Words: Bill [Parking Lot]

“I choose gratitude. I choose wonder. I choose awe. I choose everything that suggests I’m opening myself to the miraculous reality of simply being alive for one moment more.” –Scott Stabile

[Carpool in electric cars]


Opening: Rev Lisa [on the mountain]

“The leaves are turning and change is in the air. In many locales seasonal changes are dramatic and unmistakable. But those who live in arid climates like Tucson commonly say there are no seasons at all here. [Yet we come to know that in fact there are 5 seasons!] We need to be mindful and patient to see the clear differences between winter and spring and between summer, monsoon, and fall. Change, the only constant, is everywhere around us.” September 14 from Earth Bound: Daily Meditations For All Seasons, Brian Nelson, Boston: Skinner House Books, 2004.

How do you recognize the change to Fall in the desert?


Music: Hymn #54, Now Light is Less, v.1&2


Now light is less; moon skies are wide and deep; the ravages of wind and rain are healed. The haze of harvest drifts along the field until clear eyes put on the look of sleep.

The sudden spider weaves a silken pear, to keep inclement weather from its young. Straight from the oak, the gossamer is hung. At dusk our slow breath thickens on the air.


Reading: Janet

“In response to a question about what he did when he visited a new place, a man said to me, ‘I listen.’ That’s all. I listen, he meant, to what the land is saying. I walk around in it and strain my senses in appreciation of it for a long time before I, myself, ever speak a word. Entered in such a respectful manner, he believed, the land would open to him.” –Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Reading: Bill

“There’s the silence of early morning. For long routes in autumn you have to start very early. Outside everything is violet, the dim light slanting through red and gold leaves. It is an expectant silence. You walk softly among huge dark trees, still swathed in traces of blue night. You are almost afraid of awakening.”

–Frédéric Gros, A Philosophy of Walking


Reading: Rev Lisa

“Marveling at the perfection of that leaf, I was reminded that aesthetic beauty is as much about how and whether you look as what you see. From the quark [subatomic particles] to the supernova, the wonders do not cease. It is our attentiveness that is in short supply, our ability and willingness to do the work that awe requires.” –John Green, The Anthropocene Reviewed

What one word or short phrase captures what you personally are focused on right now?


About Leaves: Janet  

Reading: Lisa

Viewing the foliage that has changed color, we “consider color itself. A red leaf is arguably everything but red, because red is the only color that it reflects, while it absorbs the rest of the hues in the spectrum. Perhaps this has implications for racists, who might consider that they actually absorb every color except the one they proclaim themselves to be. Certainly, it has ramifications for any astute observer of the world: Nothing is as simple as it appears. If we are to see anything in its ‘true colors,’ we should consider all the colors we think it’s not.” –Brian Nelson, Sept 7 from Earth Bound

Reading: Bill

“I find sanctuaries when looking up and when looking down. A humble ochre leaf swimming in a puddle elicits as much awe from me as a soaring cathedral. One was built to evoke reverence; the other is quiet and humble, yet to me, both are achingly beautiful. In them, I see the divine light of warmth and love. I feel lifted, comforted. I appreciate their presence in my life, reminders that I am home everywhere I go.” --Amy Masterman, Sacred Sensual Living: 40 Words for Praying with All Your Senses

Reading: Rev Lisa

“In fall, people sometimes worry about aging. They regard their wrinkles and laugh lines, and bemoan the loss of their younger faces. In nature, of course, old things are beautiful. Weathered stone has an authentic attraction that competes well with polished gems, and a young saguaro looks pitiful next to its mature and majestic neighbor. Virgin forests appear too fragile to disturb, while many long to walk among the aged sequoias. Autumn is part of the process of nature, both in our world and in ourselves. As we grow more mature, we can taste both the bitter and the sweet. We have been seasoned, and our lives are richer for it.” –Brian Nelson, September 20+23

from Earth Bound


Reading: Janet

“Poetry keeps the door open to awe and ensures that we will find our way through the broken heart field of wars, losses and betrayals to understanding, compassion and gathering together.” –Joy Harjo


Closing: Bill

“We have been wrong. We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it. We must learn to cooperate in its processes, and to yield to its limits. But even more important, we must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe.” --Wendell Berry, A Native Hill, p. 20

Addendum: Rev Lisa

Celebration and ritual are ways that people have been mindful of the change of seasons for millennia. Do you have any autumn rituals? What rituals are meaningful in the Sonoran Desert?

Closing Song: We are Keepers of the Earth, Joyce Poley







Ferns of HopeHobbit House
Meditation Yellow Maples
Silvery SheenSilvery Sheen
Special ViewSpecial View
Fallen LeavesFallen Leaves

Fall Worship in the Woods is Coming

Worship in the Woods has happened!  See below for a taste of the experience.  We hope to connect with more of you in the fall beginning in September!

June 8: Trees

Opening PoemOpening Poem

Worship in the Woods Order of Service
Theme: Trees   June 8, 2022
Mt Lemmon: The Meadow Trail

Welcome & Gathering Words: Rev. Lisa (carpool parking lot)

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop away…like the leaves of autumn.
–John Muir

[Carpool in hybrid and electric cars]

Opening words: Rev. Lisa (on the mountain)

  • Welcome to Worship in the Woods focused on our 7th Principle & theme of Trees
  • “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer [I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree]
  • Opening song: “Tree Song,” #Team Trees, https://youtu.be/Qq9CQKNplpw

Poetry read by Janet Moore         

         “5AM in the Pine Woods,” by Mary Oliver from House of Light, p.32

Meditation on Reciprocity written by Bill Keyes

         Based on ideas from: Abram, David. Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology

Fun Facts About Ponderosa Pines shared by Janet

Transformative Experience shared by Rev. Lisa

Poetry: read by Bill

“Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me,” by Mary Oliver from What Do We Know, p. 36-37

Forest Carbon 101 adapted by Rev. Lisa from Nature.org/Magazine, Fall 2021, p.59

Action: Rev. Lisa

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence calls us to take action to protect the earth and address climate change. One of the best things we can do as individuals is plant trees which sequester carbon in their tissues and the soil.
Tree Planting Resources: (Deep water your existing trees to keep them alive!)

Closing Song: Rev. Lisa

We are Keepers of the Earth, Joyce Poley, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvAcpENxbpk

Invitation to Fellowship         





Ferns of HopeFerns of Hope
Meditation Meditation
Poderosa Pines
Mtn Range upon Mnt Range
On the Trail
Horny Toad

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