In Praise of Creation on Sukkot Evenings

On Shabbat of Sukkot we stand exposed
A people outside, under stars and moon,
staring up in awe, humble before You.
The light of day fades, evening rolls in,
The cycle of the world turns, night creeps up
into the sky. Our eyes open, soften.

The harvest of the summer hangs and frames
the signs that show the season soon to come.
Through the walls and ceiling of the Sukkah,
we sense Your miracles, depend on them.

What a great gift that we should be able
to draw so near to You in prayer.
How many walls stand between us, though God
fills all the world, still You seem so hidden,
Yet a single word of prayer topples all walls,
we reach between the leaves of the Sukkah,
our vulnerable bodies outside,
stretching in wonder, drawing near to You.

Praised are You, Adonai our God, who brings the evening.

Offering gratitude with our entirety

[a prayer I wrote for tonight's Shabbat worship - join us!]

We offer thanks with our whole selves:
good inclinations and less than good intentions,
anger, fear, and jealousy,
compassion, courage, and generosity.

We are all of these together.
We offer thanks and gratitude
for the chance to transform our difficulties
into opportunities for creation and connection.

We offer thanks with our whole selves.

Kindling our hearts in prayer

This Shabbat we read about the lighting of the menorah in the Tabernacle, an obligation that we all have to bring light into our homes, here's a quick meditation inspired by that and an anonymous 13th Century text, see Daniel Matt 's The Essential Kabbalah, p. 119 for the source text:

When we pray on our own we aim for unity with all,
we kindle the fire on the altar of our hearts.
By concentrating our thoughts, we unify our feelings,
our principles, our hopes, our dreams,
until they are drawn to the source of the infinitely sublime flame.
Here lies the secret of unifying which we perform in prayer,
raising up our ideas, like an elevating offering, towards one source.
In praise and in thanks
we draw ourselves nearer to the spark that ignites all.

Let us enter Shabbat

In order to enter Shabbat, Abraham Joshual Heschel recommends: 

We who want to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. We must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling our own lives. We must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without our help. Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else. Six days a week we seek to dominate the world, on the seventh day we try to dominate the self.

Day 45 of the Omer - inspire the moment

Tiferet in Malchut - balanced beauty in the implementation of divine presence into reality.

Ever been perched on one of those moments when all is ready and we have done everything possible to be prepared and our anticipation is a thrill of perfect beginning?

This could be a physical preparation - about to start a race, or look down the perfect ski slope. An intellectual, social, or emotional endeavor - sitting down to write when we've done the right mental preparation, or sitting across from a person we've been eagerly waiting to talk to for a long time. It could be a spiritual moment - finally getting the chance to sit and reflect or meditate on something important.

All of these reflect some of the great balance and beauty of injecting Tiferet into the next moment of doing. Let us balance our expectations with preparations, and infuse the next minute with some inspired excitement.

Happy Friday, Shabbat Shalom, and more great counting everyone!

Day 25 of the Omer - Shabbat at last

Netzach in Netzach - the long view from the self focused perspective in itself.

The simplest way to perpetuate life is through self-preservation. As this Shabbat evening continues the Boston crisis concludes with more life preserved, with great appreciation.

In these moments of relief may we focus on celebrating life and the miraculous ways by which it finds a way.

Wishing all meaningful days of counting to come and a Sabbath of true rest, peace, and even joy.

lovely_mossy_boulders_on_approach_USE.jpg

Day 4 of the Omer

Netzach in Chesed - victory of the self in compassion and kindness.

Netzach is often associated with a powerful sense of self, even to the exclusion of others so perhaps a challenging fit into to world of compassion and loving kindness.

Kindness towards others begins with understanding that we have something worth giving. We need to believe in or own self-worth in order to offer kindness, even to our selves.

So on this day let us remember to care for our selves as a start to offering each other compassion.

Shabbat Shalom, Happy Counting, and Happy Passover!