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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Psalm 27: A Spiritual Guide for the High Holy Days


 I first wrote and posted this poetic commentary on Psalm 27 a few years ago.  Each time I return to it I make some changes, as my experience of the psalm, and of life, has changed.  I wanted to share this psalm once again with all those who are preparing their hearts and souls for the Yamim Noraim, or Days of Awe, which begin tomorrow night with Rosh Hashanah and end 10 days later at the close of Yom Kippur.

Below is the poem and introduction as I posted it two years ago as, to be honest, I am still caught up in finishing my sermons for this year, which I will also post online.  I hope you find these words meaningful and I wish you a happy, sweet, blessed and fulfilling New Year of 5755.
L'shanah tovah tikateivu - may you be inscribed for a good new year,
SPN
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From the beginning of the month of Elul, the last month of the Jewish year, through all of the fall holiday season, it is customary to read Psalm 27 every day. Known as the Psalm for the Season of Repentance, it is a psalm filled with faith and hope.
The following is a line-by-line poetic commentary on the poem. Each line of the psalm is written in bold italics, and the poetic interpretation of that line follows. As we enter this new year of 5772, I hope and pray for all of us and our world, that we shall see an end to suffering and the beginning of a new time of peace and tranquility for us all. But it all begins with forgiveness and acceptance.
L’shanah tovah u’metukah – a Happy and Sweet New Year - to you, my online community. Thanks so much for reading my words and for allowing me to share them with you,
SPN


Psalm 27: Seeking Strength , Seeking God

The Eternal is my light and my life.
Whom shall I fear?

I am filled with fear
fear of self others the world life
fear of change of remaining the same
of moving of lingering

alone I am in darkness with God I see light
alone I fear death with God I find life

yet I still fear
I do not know who or what
at one with God
I can face the fear
I am not alone

The Eternal is the foundation of my life.
Whom shall I dread?

for so many years
I see me as
the center core foundation
the all of being

but that is not me
that is ego
cunning baffling tempting me
to forget it is not me
not self not I
at the center the core the root
but the divine
my champion my strength

I must remember this
when facing fear dread
creeping up within me
each moment each day

When evil-doers come upon me to devour me
Even my adversaries and foes stumble and fall.

forces of evil gather within
sent by ego
they bore into my soul
seeking to destroy undermine
convincing me I am not
worthy of God

but in truth god is within me
when I turn to you
the dark forces within turn on themselves
they stumble and fall

even then they are there
lying in wait for the moment when I forget you

If an army should encamp against me,
My heart will not fear.
Though war should wage up against me
Even then will I be confident.

I still fear
I still do not trust you are there
within me within others
filling the world my soul all creation
protecting each of us from enemies

I must remember
to keep my heart strong yet compassionate
towards self others humanity the world


One thing I ask of the Eternal, Only this do I seek:
To live in the house of Adonai all the days of my life,
To gaze upon Adonai's beauty; to frequent God's temple.

how do I remain
strong yet compassionate
resolute yet merciful
I ask you beloved
help me maintain balance
help me remember
I am forever dwelling within you
you are forever dwelling within me
your home is my home
your shelter my shelter
your heart my heart
your world my world
filled with beauty
divine and human together
same yet different
all is your temple your dwelling place
beautiful serene loving strong glorious comforting
help me remember this is all you
the true reality of the existence

For You conceal me in Your shelter
on the day of evil.
You hide me in the secret place
in Your tent.
You lift me up on a rock.


yet days hours minutes seconds moments arise
when it seems I can only feel evil
burrowing from within
attacking from without
causing pain suffering
my mind perceives only enemies
my heart feels only fear
under attack from others
under attack from me
my heart hardens to protect its self
to keep out others and God

in these moments protecting one
I seek your shelter
I find you within my heart my soul
in the heart and soul of others
breaking down the walls
I have built around my heart
hiding me from the forces that seek to destroy
hiding me from my ego the self that is not real
within your tent you hide me from these forces

you lift me up to realize
if I am with you and you with me
I need not hide I can stand tall
in full view of my enemies my self
filled with the strength of your glory
the inheritance of all humanity

And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies all around me; And I will offer sacrifices in Your tent
with the sound of trumpets I will sing, yes, I will sing praises
to Adonai.

in that moment I realize
I must let go of my self my desires my needs my will
I realize none of these are real
I have no strength no power no will

I surrender to the reality
all is you
I am powerless as are we all
in that moment
I sacrifice my self my ego my desires my passions
I feel power surging within coming from you
the call of the shofar arises from deep within
the place I had forgotten that the ego had obscured
shouts of praise arise songs of joy emanate from my lips
coming from my soul the divine breath within
praising the divine throughout the world
salvation has arrived
for this moment

Listen adonai when I call aloud.
Be gracious to me; answer me!

uncertainty and fear arise
as it always does
God will you hear me
beloved will you whisper back
compassionate one will I feel your compassion
merciful one will your mercy comfort me
gracious one will I receive your grace
your love overflowing unending unconditional
or will the conditions place on my self
that my ego slips into my mind and heart
cause me to disregard your answer to my call
to miss the experience of your love
always there waiting for each of us
help me to ask to find the strength to call to you
help me receive that which you are
always there to give freely to your children
help me hear the questions and the answers
within me coming from you

To you my heart cries out, to you
my face is turned;
Your Presence, Eternal One, I seek.


feeling the need within I cry to you
from my heart I look for you
often in the wrong places
the storm the thunder the whirlwind
clouding my mind with emotions and thoughts
as I seek certainty control once again
I must turn my face and heart inward
to the soul the source
the breath of life
to find you in each breath
the still small voice whispering
I am here
you are loved
we are one


Hide not your face from me.
Do not put your servant off in anger.
You are my help.

do not allow
my ego self-doubts self-loathing fear
to hide you from me
to hid me from you

do not allow
my anger my emotions my irrationality my ego
to convince me that you have abandoned me
left me alone disconnected
without help or support


Forsake me not, nor abandon me, O God, the One who delivers me. For though my father and my mother have abandoned me
The Eternal shall gather me in.


all upon which I have built
my life my self the foundation of my existence
what I believed sustained me
what I believed was me
is gone
I am alone abandoned
I have no roots no certainty
I have no stability no grounding
I am a blank slate
that is as it should be
moment to moment we start anew
what we thought sustained us is fantasy
what we thought was eternal is ephemeral
permanence abandoned begets the transient
from the ashes of confidence in self now destroyed
arises the phoenix of uncertainty ungrounding
disconnection from the counterfeit power of the self
I can now fly free
knowing that I am guided by god not the self
present not the past
awareness not vagueness
compassion not aggression
joy not fear love not hatred

Show me Your ways, O God,
And lead me on a just path
Because of my ever-watchful foes.


eternal one source of strength and compassion
guide me help me find balance
keep me on your path
for I know the forces that brought me down are still there
the ego my passions desires frustrations
lie in wait ready to pounce
waiting for the moment when I abandon you


Deliver me not over unto the will of my adversaries
For false witnesses have risen up against me
And they fume in violence.


help me to remain with you
remind me that with you is joy peace hope
keep me from the lies snares traps of the ego
the voices within calling truth a lie
and falsehood reality
seeking to do violence against my soul
to create chaos where there is peace
to draw me back into the world of
fantasy desire obsession
where I am at the center not you
where I believe the power is mine not yours
where the master of my fate the captain of my ship
are not mere cliché but perceived realities
that can beget only pain suffering disaster


If I had not believed to look upon the goodness of God,
in the land of Life...


had I not experienced the reality of your presence
your love compassion mercy guiding me
I would never have known what it means
to be truly alive
had I not discovered you within me and others
had I not heard your voice in my heart
in the words of others
had I not known that in each moment
I can experience your goodness
I do not know how I would survive
moment to moment each day of life


Hope, then, for the Eternal; strengthen your heart with courage,
And have hope in the Eternal.


hope
not for an imagined future
a fantasy mind and ego create
hope only in you
the eternal my beloved my source my strength

hope in you
not certainty in the world the self human beings
give me the strength the courage
to face the uncertain ever-changing
reality of life

eternal one grant me courage
keep my heart and soul open
to each moment
compassionate towards self and others
seeking peace for all humanity
in each moment
finding joy where it seems most elusive
experiencing divine love in each place each moment
so that I may embark on the path of teshuvah return

in each moment with every breath
bring me back to you
bring us all back to our source
today every day each moment
so we may do your will
now and always
amen

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