September 30, 2008

Froggie Went A Courtin’

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 12:43 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

Last Night, as I was listening to the sound of frogs from a cool website, my wife stepped outside to feed the dog.  “There is a frog!” she said.

“Its on the computer” I explained.

“No, it is here,” she replied, “in the garden room.”  And so there was: small and brown, very quiet, not too happy about being picked up, but it sat very still in my hand, looking at me with round black eyes.

How this relates to ministry is that every year at our All Church Retreat, beside Lake James in Northern Indiana and out in the open beneath a towering cottonwood, I conduct a worship service centered on one of the First People.  In my words I honor Native American traditions.  However, I also make it clear that I am not telling people about Native beliefs but am using my versions of Native stories (as well as words and images from around the world,) to tell about Unitarian Universalist beliefs.  This year I spoke of Frog, Water Woman, Old-Pond-Splasher, and her many relations including brother Toad.  Her message was that we are all rich, powerful, and beautiful, as long as we understand these adjectives rightly.

One thing I love about these services is that people come up trough the next few weeks to share with me stories of their encounters with frogs, or coyotes or bison, whatever the totem of the year is.  This year I stood with a friend outside of the church, one night after choir practice, listening to the many frogs in our church woods singing above us in the trees.  The other day I heard of a decorative pond that had become filled with tadpoles, and another person recounted childhood memories of catching frogs down by the White River.

I also love how I begin to notice the animal more often.  In Indiana I had never seen any vultures until I spoke of them. Then one afternoon as I drove past a deer carcass only a few miles from my house, a red-headed turkey vulture rose up unexpectedly, flying before me then turning and spiraling up into the sky.

This year was the first time in eight years that a frog had hopped into our back room when the door was ajar.  Raccoons, robins, sparrows, mice and insects a plenty have visited over the years.  But last night, as I listened on my computer to the many songs and strange sounds that can be heard in Indiana wetlands, a beautiful frog hopped up to my home as if to say, “Thanks” and “I love you.”

I whispered “It was good to see you” and safely set her back out in the rain soaked night.