Sunday, December 10, 2017

I'M OVER THE MACCABEES, A Hanukkah Prayer


Baruch Atah Adonai,
Brucha At Shechina,
Ruach HaOlam:

I'm over the Maccabees.
I'm done with fanatics.
I'm done with extremists who demand purity.
I'm done with fundamentalists who shut women up.
I'm done with religions that kill.

I'm over the Seleucids.
I'm done with invaders.
I'm done with outsiders telling anyone how to live in their own country.
I'm done with people telling me how to worship my God.
I'm done with liars and rapists and powerful men.

I'm over the Hellenists.
I'm done with accomodation.
I'm done with rich suck-ups.
I'm done with living in comfy bubbles.
I'm done with pretending we're one of them.

I'm over Hanukkah.
         I'm done with Hanukkah bushes.
         I'm done with eight days of socks.
         I'm done with parties at the White House. 
         I'm done with cheap chocolate gelt.

I'm okay with light in the darkness. 
And potato latkes.
Oh, and donuts.
Let's start there.
Amen





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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Our Broken Hearts: A Prayer For When Life Is A Struggle


Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk: “There is nothing so whole as a broken heart.”

Blessed Fierce Mystery, 

Our hearts are broken open and everything that was hidden comes pouring out.
First comes our anger and resentment,
Then our fear and anxiety,
Then our hurt and the grief.

And just when we think it's done and we are injured and dying
Out pour our cries for connection,
Then our gifts of atonement,
Then our kindnesses and our hopes.

The feelings are deep and obvious.
We are exposed to the world.
And if we pay attention we will see
That here we are, 
Ready to love and be loved.

Blessed Fierce Mystery, Breath of the Universe,
Giving us struggle,
Helping us survive.
So that we may be ready.
Amen

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Covenant

Blessed Fierce Mystery
We give thanks for the opportunity to live up to our covenant,
To live in Wholeness with the deepest self
And to create a society that embodies that.

We give thanks for the forgiveness that must come
When we fail, as we will.

Together we feel good, because we are stubborn,
because we will keep on trying.

With faith in our doubt
With doubt in our faith
We continue
In covenant.

And let us say, Amen.

Friday, October 20, 2017

I Am So Blessed In My Annoying Friends



I am so blessed in my annoying friends:
Those women and men who will not let me sink,
Who text me every day,
Who insist on knowing if I've made those phone calls,
Written that essay,
Applied for that job,
Asked for much needed help.

I kept thinking it would get better.
This couldn’t be happening to me!
I’m smart,
I’m self-aware,
I take care of myself.
Until one day I had to admit
That I was in trouble, deep trouble.
I cried
And I cried out.

It took me so long to ask for help
I pray it isn’t too late.
And when I asked
I received.
Amazing.
But now that I've got it
I wish it would go away.
Because my annoying friends will not leave me alone
To wallow in my distress and denial,
And I do so like to wallow.

I am so smart
I am so self aware
And I have always taken care of myself
Except I can’t right now
And I am so ashamed.
I am so embarrassed,
To need help.
How can this be me?
Maybe I should just disappear.
But they will not let me go!

It is a revelation
To need help
And get it,
And at the same time
To learn to give the gift
Of receiving gifts.
I hope my annoying friends know
How much strength it requires
To admit that.

I am so blessed in the people who worry about me,

My beloved annoying friends.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A PRAYER FOR THE LEVITES: A Contract Between The Community and Its Workers


The Levite:

Blessed be Ruach HaOlam, Breathing Us In and  Breathing Us Out,
Help me with my obligations as a Levite for my congregation.
May I serve my community to the best of my ability with hard work and creative problem solving.
May I remember the larger goals when I am bogged down in the small details.
May I learn to set limits and know when I must ignore or enforce them.
May I never forget that that everyone means well.
May I represent my community to the wider Jewish kahal well and appropriately.
May I always remember to work with my community with respect and diligence so together we may serve and repair our world.


The Congregation:

Blessed be Ruach HaOlam, Breathing Us In and  Breathing Us Out,
Help us with our obligations to our Levites:
May we serve them to the best of our ability with fair wages and benefits.
May we understand that they are professionals and not volunteers.
May we remember that they must have their days of rest.
May we remember that they love what they do and who they do it for and may we not take advantage of that love too often.
May we always remember to employ them with respect and appreciation so that together we may serve and repair our world.


Together:

Blessed be Ruach HaOlam, Breathing Us In and  Breathing Us Out,
Help us with all of our mutual obligations:
Hard work and fair compensation, 
Diversity and safety, 
Opportunity and study.
Just as Bezalel built the Mishkan with his labor, and as he also took joy in the beauty of his creation, may we build this community together and take joy when it flourishes so that we may better serve and repair our world.

Blessed be Ruach HaOlam, Breathing Us In and  Breathing Us Out,
And bless the community, the work and the workers, that we are one in the One-ness.  
Amen.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Stars In The Sky: A Kavannah for Sukkot


We can see the stars in the sky
Through the slats covering the roof of the sukkah.
And as metaphors go, that's apt.
But it's Sukkot and
Today we;re celebrating the mysterious vertical God:
The God of Heaven,
The God of the Harvest.
God, all the way from Down here to the mysterious far Up There,
Where the rain comes from.
And it would be presumptuous of us to claim clarity.

This all feels so very ancient, doesn't it?
Maybe thousands of years ago they took a break from the harvest
And shared a nice meal in a temporary shack built for sleeping
So they wouldn't waste time walking home.
Hey, they lived in a desert and they knew it wouldn't rain
So they built it so they could see the stars before falling asleep.
Maybe they thanked their gods for their good harvest.
And when Big Daddy Torah God came on the scene
They folded it all into the calendar.
It would have been foolish of them to give up such a good thing.

On our temporary sukkah walls there are pictures of the ancestors
Invited in to share a meal and a chat.
Some of us invite in the patriarchs, some the matriarchs,
Some invite in the scholars, others hope for the artists
And of course there’s family and friends, and wine.
So let's shake some of that pagan foliage
East West North South, Up and Down.
And have a sniff of a most expensive piece of fruit
And look up at those same stars.
It would arrogant of us to forego the joy or the ritual.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Blessing For When Good Things Happen



The fourth benediction in the Birkat HaMazon,
The Blessing After the Meal,
Is the hatov vehamaytiv.
It is also recited upon,
Among other reasons,
Hearing good news concerning others
and
For the drinking of a second cup of very good wine:

May this (new good thing) be like that second cup of wine.
Even better than the first one, which maybe you drank too fast?
This second cup has all the familiar and comfortable flavors,
But having breathed a little
It offers up so much more nuance and pleasure
Than that first cup ever could.
God is good and good things happen.

Close your eyes.
Think of all the good things and people that surround you.
Wherever they are, have been or will be.
Now open your eyes.
And look around,
Here we are!
Right now,
This is the moment.  
Here.
We are safe
We have been found.
We are home.
God is good and good things happen.

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-olam, Ha-tov V'hameitiv.

Amen