שנה טובה ומתוקה

שנה טובה ומתוקה

שנה טובה ומתוקה

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#BlogElul – Elul 16 – “Pray”

I pray by rote. The words so familiar, so imbedded within me. I jump in the river of prayer, letting the current take me along as the words sweep me away.

I pray in poetry and I pray in prose. In images that are created in economy of words or in words piled on words. The rhythm, the sound, and the patterns carry my hopes and dreams.

I pray in music. Eyes closed. My body, like an instrument, resonates to the sound – the melody, the harmony. This is the prayer that brings me to tears.

I pray in craft. Knitting hats for newborns. Making quilts for Veterans. My hands say: “welcome to this sacred community.” They say, “Thank you for what you did, the things you saw, the experiences that still live within you.”

I pray in art. Looking at the masters – their use of color and shadow, of line and form. How do a few simple lines make a face? How does shape become substance? And I look at the world and try to sketch it or try to capture a moment in a photograph. Just this fading flower, those hands that I love, this time and place.

I pray while driving. I notice the cycle of time. I watch as the trees bud neon green, as the bright green turns dark, as the red and copper appear, as the empty branches stand stark against a gray, wintery sky. I see the unexpected rainbow above the road. I marvel at the changes in the sky, hour-by-hour, day-by-day. I catch my breath at moments of transcendence.

I pray at the bedsides of the dying. I sit silently and listen to their breathing. I lay on hands and bless them. I pray for God to take them home. I pray for one more day, one more voyage, one more adventure. I pray for them to be reunited with those they have loved who have gone before them. I pray in the words of their faith and I pray in the words of mine.

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# Blog Elul – Elul 10 “Count”

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#BlogElul Elul 9 – “Observe”

What can we see when we change our focus?   

Imagine how our world can change when we change the way we look at the world.

 

What do you see when you look through the spyglasses?

What do you see when you look through the spyglasses?

This is in the center.

This is the flower arrangement in the center.

Spin the bowl.

Spin the bowl,

Spin it faster.

spin it faster,

Look through the eye hole,

look through the eye hole,

it's a kaleidoscope!

it’s a kaleidoscope!

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#BlogElul — Elul 2 — Act

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The more we act with kindness, the more it becomes our “automatic” response. We know it can be challenging to be kind to people. We make assumptions about why they act the way they do, they can push our buttons and we theirs, we can be tired or overworked and react unthinkingly. Some days it is hard to be kind to the ones we love the most. We get home and just want to focus on our own needs. And for many of us it is most difficult to be kind to ourselves. We know better than anyone else how often we feel we could have done more or done better. That is why we need to make kindness a habitual act. Mitzvah goreret mitzvah – one mitzvah leads to another. If we learn to cultivate kindness and compassion, starting with easy practices and moving on to harder ones, we are rewarded with the creation of community, love, trust, connection, and resilience. Kindness is the act that protects and grows our souls.

As we prepare to enter the New Year, may we be blessed to act with kindness in easy situations so that we may learn to instinctively act with kindness at challenging times. May we be compassionate in the world and may we bring that caring into our homes. May our actions lead others to acts of kindness. May we change ourselves and, in so doing, may we change the world.

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#BlogElul – Elul 1 – “Prepare”

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.

~~~ Alexander Graham BellIMG_20160904_201810039

 Beginning the month of Elul by tasting local Massachusetts apples. Why? To prepare an apple and honey tasting menu as the start to Rosh Hashanah lunch. The honey varieties, so far, are native Minnesota honeys.

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משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה

משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה

“When Adar enters, our joy increases.”  Ta’anit 29a

Adar is one of my favorite months. I love the laughter, the silliness, and the hamentashen. As a congregational rabbi and later, as a day school rabbi, I spent hours on costumes and creative “services.” As a hospice chaplain, the year that Purim fell on our hospice Interdisciplinary Team meeting day, I organized a pot-luck Purim seudah  (the festive meal,) and the whole team came in costume.IDT team purim

This year, however, I have not been feeling the Adar joy. The temperature is frigid. The snow on either side of my front walk is taller than I am. I drive to work and I see buildings engulfed in ice. Everywhere I go, I see people and machinery on rooftops, shoveling, bagging and removing snow, chopping icicles.

As I’ve been hearing about homes without heat, with frozen pipes, and water leaks, I keep thinking: We think our homes are strong and study. We think they’ll protect us from the elements. And, for the most part, they are and they do. But really, as solid as our homes appear to be, they’re nothing more than fancy sukkot, fragile dwellings, where we spend our temporary days on the planet.

It’s hard to think of Purim when your soul is living in a sukkah.

But as I’ve been thinking this, I remembered that Sukkot is z’man simchateinu, the season of our joy. The holiday when we spend our time eating (and sleeping) outdoors in fragile booths in the cold, in the rain, and, sometimes, in the snow are a time when we are commanded to be joyful.

Joyfulness may be the answer, the solution, to the bleakness that we’ve been feeling as we have been inundated, immersed, enveloped, and overwhelmed with snow and ice. I may not yet be feeling the Adar joy, but as Adar enters, I am going to grab it by both hands. I’m going to push back against the impermanence of life and dance my way through the snow knowing that we are headed into the spring.

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