Catch a Falling Star and Put it in Your Pocket
Catching the Magic of Forgiveness

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket. How many of you remember Perry Como singing that in the fifties? That really dates you---and me! I've always loved the mystery that it implies. "Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away. Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day."

This will be a new kind of sermonette for you, I imagine, since I will sing much of the message, simply because that's what I do. Singing and speaking have often seemed to be interchangeable in my life. Whether I was singing opera or teaching my children the months of the year, music seemed to be my lodestar. Maybe that's the star in my own pocket, my sense of eternity.

We all hold eternity in our pockets-
Put your hand in, take it out and open it up.
All you need is there.
We've been told we can catch a falling star
And put it in our pocket, Never let it fade away. Isn't that eternity?
Love is Forever
And once upon a time we all will live happily ever after
Isn't that a promise, somewhere? Sometime?

There are folks who like to speak of the End of the World.
The world has endured many dates predicting its demise.
But if eternity has no end and no beginning, then the world has begun and ended and continued all in the space of time that we blink our eyes. What is unfathomable is not finite. It is only the infinite you can put in your pocket, that will let you capture dreams or give you the power to watch as the constellations dance, for it has no beginning and no end.
The Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Love, the Realm of Peace, the Mountaintop of Salvation and the Valley of Understanding are all at hand and always have been.

What good does that do us?
It's in our pocket, so it's up to us to find out.

When Adam and Eve allegedly or metaphorically chose to consume knowledge, it was in the choosing that they became the world's first heretics. For heresy was originally Greek for "choosing", later evolved into "voicing an opinion" and only much later took on the more aggressive idea of "dissent".

When we choose to learn, as Adam and Eva metaphorically did for us, we and they began to grow and to live and to be part of the garden where once we and they had been only guests.
And when we/they were driven from this paradise of snakes and ignorance we also left the tree of life behind, guarded by the angels and a wall of fire: Just in case you are dying to know the scripture, it's from ASV Genesis 3:22 and 24:And Jehovah God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever- …. God drove out the man; and placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep (safe) the way of the tree of life.

The tree of life is our home. And although guarded by angels and fire, it stands waiting for us always.
It represents our conscious choice to be human; it represents our soul, our truth and our love. It represents our reflection of what we might call God, if we are truly made in the image of that great and loving spirit.

My husband and I once had a vineyard in upper Napa Valley and over the hill in Lake County. In the vineyard was an old Syrah vine which had been there for ages and grown very deep roots. A digger Pine grew up next to the vine; both fought for space to grow. After many years, the vine won out, and it is still there where it has endured for over a century.
Eternity has deep roots. Eternity endures.
We are part of it all.
The deeper our roots, the stronger we become, here in this garden we call the planet earth.
How do we grow deep roots?
We accept challenges
We stand up for what is right, for truth for justice.
We are kind.
We accept, we listen, we are there for others.


How many ways does the wind speak?
Wild and soft and low
How many ways does my heart speak
Just as the wind does blow
How many ways can a bird fly
Its wings against the blue
How many shadows embrace a tree
How many drops in the morning dew
How many colors in a rainbow
How many waves in the sea
How many ways can I love?
As many as you love too
Just as many as you love too.

Love is right there. We simply need to ask it in.
Jesus healed and there was anger that he not continue to heal each and everyone in need.
But it was the love that healed, love that infuses us all.
He was giving us an example of love---only an example that we could choose to follow-or not.
Jesus was a teacher, showing us how we too could heal with love.
We can extend the love which is within us and each be instruments of healing and grace.

We have that love in our pockets and in our hearts.

After the Exodus, the ten plagues, the pain and violence, we read of a God who then appears and says after all this, "I am the God who heals."
In the horrors of the world, we are called to seek peace, to find respite and offer consolation.
We know a gentle word can heal as can an act of true kindness.
The consciousness of love can move the world.

An act of vengeance, the keeping of a grudge, can merely destroy.
In the Talmud, the books of Jewish scriptural it is said that:: One who keeps a grudge is like one who accidentally cuts his hand and then takes the knife to pierce his other hand.

Here we have a Talmudic definition of bearing a grudge:

If one person says to his fellow, "Lend me your ax---or hoe, or lawnmower!," and he replies, "No", and on the next day the second asks, "Lend me your coat," and the first answers: "Here it is. I am not like you were to me yesterday and would not lend me your ax"-now there's the definition of bearing a grudge, taken from the Talmud, Yoma 23a.

Look at me, I'm giving you something even though you wouldn't lend me what I needed yesterday! Why should I forget that you let me down?

In Hebrew, the word often translated as 'grudge" is Natar, which really means to keep guard over, or keeping someone in prison. The interesting thing is even if we don't realize it at the time, we are imprisoning ourselves as long as we have to keep reminding others of how they have failed us. We free ourselves only when we can truly forgive.

Vengeance is like a disease. Hatred cripples. Even small resentments cloud our vision and hobble our feet.
Instead of fostering an offense, real or imagined, we can work on making molehills of mountains, gradually reducing those perceived hurts we nurse each day or perpetrate on others.
It is possible to make space for others,
to reframe a question or a suggestion so that no one wins, but all are satisfied.
to step back so another can take your place, to throw a ball so that a child can catch it or hit a home run,
to love without demands, without conditions, in simple gratitude.

Here is a simple love song I wrote just to show that love is not something that can be demanded or simply expected:


How many times can you love with all your heart
How many times can that love pull you apart
It always seems so real
You know just what you feel
You know that all of the secrets are in his eyes.
Where can you put it where all that love can stay
Locked in the arms of a secret,
night and day
Don't try to find the key.
Cherish the mystery
If you don't try, like a bird, it won't fly away.
Today is for love, today is for lovers
Today, just today is for real.
So live in love's smile today for awhile
Forget what tomorrow may bring.
Just keep the secret wrapped up in paper dreams.
Don't try to guess whether love is all it seems.
Look in his eyes and see heaven's eternity
Locked in his arms dream your dreams, throw away the key.

That's a simple love song that asks nothing of the lover. It asks for nothing, because love cannot be commanded, but can only be present, in our hearts, in our dreams, yes, in our pockets, a never-ending supply of love, stars in our pockets.

We know the great words from Corinthians:

4   Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, Love does not boast, Love is not proud.

5   Love is not rude, Love is not self-seeking, Love is not easily angered, Love keeps no record of wrongs.

6   Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

7   Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8   Love never fails.

The prophet Micah said the great words that are part of our Unitarian Universalist tradition, "What does the Lord require but to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God?"
The Kingdom of God, of truth, justice and light is within you.

God is in your pocket.

A woman in South Africa looked for years to find the men who had tortured and murdered her little girl. When they were found and brought to trial, the judge asked her how she would punish them. She look up surprised and said, punishment? Oh no. She wept and said, "I had only wanted to know whom to forgive."

Paul Tillich once said, "Forgiveness is the answer to a question only you can ask." The woman chose both to ask and to answer the question. She had suffered the loss of her child and could not forget. But she could forgive and love. She merely reached into her pocket for forgiveness.

Sometimes the greatest task is accepting forgiveness, a willingness to be loved.
We remember the prodigal son, asking for his inheritance prior to father's death-in a sense willing his own fathers death and forsaking his own identity. When he returned after years of dissolution and waste, he knelt before his father, saying "I am not worthy to be your son!" He could neither love nor forgive himself. His father embraced him, and gave him the best of everything as his way of telling him he was loved. The son did not dare to ask for forgiveness, but the father accepted him in joy back into his home. The second son was in a sense more burdened, for he could not bring himself to forgive his brother---it just didn't seem fair! He had a hard time realizing that joy would be his if he could only forgive generously. My heart always goes out to the second son, the one we often forget in this story.

I once wrote a song about a home that could be perceived as careworn and bare, containing only memories of past love, or one that contained the joy of love---past, present and forever, held in our hearts and in the eyes of those we cherish, no matter what has happened.


I have a House all full of care, whose roof is worn, whose walls are bare.
I have a house where love was new. Where babies played, and I had you.
And in that house the dreams are free to fill our hearts with memory.
And when the wind blows through the door, those smiles and songs are there once more.
I have a house inside my heart, it's there that we will never part.
It's there that you will always be inside my heart, inside of me.
I have a house all full of light, whose rooms are warm whose walls are bright.
Whose windows smile into the sun. Where voices sing when day is done.
And in my heart that house will stay, and turn the darkness into day.
And when the starlight fills the skies, that house is there inside your eyes.
I have a house inside my heart, it's there that we will never part.
It's there that you will always be, inside my heart, inside of me.
It's there that we will never part. My house is here inside my heart.

We carry our love inside us, in our hearts, in our memories. The star in our pockets reminds us of the infinite nature of our love and the gift of forgiveness which we receive and hold each moment for ourselves and for others.
In his letters to the churches of Ephesus and Colossae, Paul tells the people to get rid of any bitterness, anger, evil talk and gossip and replace those things with loving hearts. Jesus reminded us as Gandhi did after him that we have not forgiven if it doesn't come from the heart. We all know that the energy of love is replenishing, while the energy of resentment destroys.
The sixth chapter of Luke says it all: love your enemies. Be good to those who hate you. Bless those that curse you, and pray for those that mistreat you.
You have love in your pocket. When you let it out, it can change the world. The tree of life has roots that stretch to paradise and beyond. The tree of life has limbs that can hold us all.
Catch a falling star and hang it in the sky to light your path. We all have stars in our pockets and love in our hearts. Paradise is forever but it also offers us time-the time we take to share our lives and love with each other. It is here on earth we can learn to forgive, to lighten our hearts and empty our pockets of an eternity of stars.


What is paradise? Paradise is time.
Time to look, time to wait, minutes are sublime.
Time to sit and look up at the moon.
Time to walk way up the hill and down the road in June.
Time for listening to a cricket sing all the evening long.
Telling with her tiny song the story of the world around.
Taking time to grow, taking time to know all the sounds the earth might make until the end of time.
Show me what is real. Show me what is wise. Show me paradise.

May we find a pathway to the tree of life. May we seek the paradise on earth that comes from love. May we have the strength to embrace in our hearts those whom it is not so easy to love or forgive, and may we find forgiveness for our own weaknesses. May we find peace in our pockets and offer it to the world that grace may abide in us and in all things, forever.


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