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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A prelude to Rosh Hashanah

The joyous, introspective time of soul searching begins at sundown tonight with the start of Rosh Hashanah, the New Year.  As we light the candles to welcome the holy day, it is good to remember that bringing light where there is darkness first requires darkness.  And seeking forgiveness means there are things for which we need to be forgiven.  May we all do our best to bring in the light, forgive ourselves, forgive others and seek forgiveness from those whom we have harmed and from God.
L'shanah tovah,
A good year to you all

Rekindling the flame:  a poem for the evening of Rosh Hashanah

we come together tonight  

as one community

extended family in celebration

apples and honey
wine and challah
fill our bellies
gladden our spirits

candles glow
flickering beacons
illuminating the room and our souls

then suddenly
candles are extinguished
some unknown force seems to
plunge us
the world around us
into darkness
I am terrified
feeling alone in the dark
yet I know I am not

standing still silent

I hear
the breath of others
of my self
of the divine spirit
surrounding me
comforting me

I hear a voice coming from within and around
do not be afraid
you are not alone
you are never alone

waiting for the light to return
I remember I hear
my mother’s voice my father’s voice
the voice of all who came before
my voice
the voice of all yet to come
echoing God's voice
do not be afraid
you are not alone you are never alone

yet I still am alone
even as I am not
in this deepest darkness
the absence of light
but so much more
a darkness you can feel you can touch

immersed in the darkness
you begin
to feel
your light
your soul
into the void
black hole

afraid of what lies ahead
you scream
where is the light
who has a match
who can help
there is no response
just breath darkness fear

just breathe

sitting there
afraid alone silent

and feel all of this
and more

then with each breath
something shifts slightly within
you hear a voice saying
breathe out fear
breathe in peace
breathe out rejection
breathe in acceptance
breathe out separation
breathe in unity

nothing about
peace hope tranquility perfection
self help books
cannot prepare you
for this for this is felt not merely written
this is experience not simply theory
this is for real
yet it is something new and yet ancient
hidden deep within the soul

what is it
don't ask don’t think don't question
just be listen experience know

breathe out fear
breathe in sadness

wrong answer
perverse alchemy
turning fear into sadness
shouldn't it become
something else
comfort certainty joy
the essence of the holiday
the goal of living
or so you have been taught so you have thought

in the stillness the silence the darkness
continue to pay attention
notice what is in the moment
still with each breath
as fear dissipates
sadness increases

but this is wrong this is not what is meant to happen
it is not what I was taught not what I was prepared for

but then you realize as you breathe in the darkness
this is simple what is the truth

in the darkness you have dug down
to the roots of sadness
the realization of
what is still undone
what is finished
what will never be
what was
who you are
who you are not
what you have accomplished
what you have neglected
the realities of existence
this is a holy moment
holy day holy time
as is every moment every day every time
if we simply allow it to happen

for just a moment
your breathing stops
instead of air you let out a cry
a scream a wail
replaces the breath
it surrounds and envelopes
all that is
reaching outward
to the ends of the universe
calling out to the divine
the still small voice within

tears flow without ceasing
you are afraid that this flood of tears
will obliterate you your world everything
God said never again the rainbow in the sky reminds us
of God's unbreakable covenant to humanity
yet you fear this flood of human tears
could destroy all as God did once before

inside the soul
where once there was breath
there is nothing
where moments ago
you thought there was joy

all you can feel is this overwhelming
frightening threatening sadness

in that moment when you finally allow yourself
to feel the sadness the hurt the fear the loneliness
suddenly your heart your core your soul
shatters completely
your heart is broken
and God is the only one who can
heal those who are truly broken hearted

experiencing all this suddenly
the candles reignite
their flames now reaching to heaven
their glow filling your soul
you realize now that you are home
you have returned to the one
to yourself to the world
to family to community

you know that the sadness all too real
can be healed
in the meantime it is what helps you grow

realizing this
now you are ready
to change to be to do
to connect with the world
with others known and unknown

now you are ready to bless
the flame the holiness of the day
now you can approach the divine
and celebrate the truth
as you recognize feel acknowledge
the joy awe wonder
of living in this moment
or it is all we ever have

let us rejoice
let us accept
let us be
what who we are right now
regardless of whether it I who we thought we would be

let us gather to celebrate a beginning
an ending
a beginning
the moment
whatever it may be

and so we bless the flames and the moment

blessed are you Eternal One
who has given us life and the ability to live
who has sustained us enabling us to see the reality of existence even when it may seem too much to bear
and has brought us to this moment whatever it may be
however we may feel we acknowledge that it is simply
a gift from you
and for this we celebrate

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