Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Call to Silence and Opening Meditation

Song ("I'll Tell You A Story," by Judith Beckman and Rose Engel):

I'll tell you a story that's old and yet new, A story that each generation finds true;
A tale of our fight against tyranny,
A tale of our fight for our right to be free...with dignity.

Antiochus, King on the Syrian throne; He ordered the people:
"No god of y0ur own; to Greek idols bow!"
Against Syria's might, the Jews were despondent, no spirit to fight (to fight)

From Mod'in came Judah and his Macabees: brothers courageous against Epiphanes.
Though small was their band, though long was their fight,
Their victory at last rekindled God's light (eternal light).

Reader: Chanukah is a festival of light. Each day another candle glows: one becomes two, two become three, until the Menorah is full of candles and the room is full of light. On Chanukah we learn that light can grow, if we do our part. It is we who must kindle a light for ourselves and others.

Reader: "My Thread" by David Hofstein

Travel-stained with my wanderer's stick and ancient pain,
O world, I have brought a white linen thread
dipped in red wine for the new wick of freedom's torch.
To that new wick of freedom's torch, thick-woven, with threads of many colors,
I too bring a thread.
When it burns and the red is black with smoke,
I shall not know the one I brought
Enough to know that I too brought my thread
for freedom's torch!

Reader" With joy and gratitude we greet this season of our freedom. Not by might was it won, not be power was it gained, but through strength of spirit, the spirit of God within us. (from Zechariah 4:6)

Reader: Since that day when the land was re won, and the Temple restored to the worship of the Holy One of Israel, we have won and we have lost, we have suffered and rejoiced. We have struggled to keep our faith alive. For all our deliverance's, we give thanks.

Reader: May all who are not free go forth from bondage; may all who suffer find healing and peace.

Song: ("Dona Dona" words by Aaron Zeitlin, music be Shalom Secunda)
On a wagon bound for market, there's a calf with a mournful eye.
High above him flies a swallow, winging swiftly through the sky.

How the winds are laughing; they laugh with all their might.
Laugh and laugh the whole day through and half the summer's night.
Dona dona, dona dona dona dona, dona dona dona dai,
Dona dona dona dona, dona dona dona dai.

"Stop complaining," said the farmer. "Who told you a calf to be?"
Why don't you have wings to fly with, like the swallow, so proud and free?"
Calves are easily bound and slaughtered, never knowing the reason why,
But whoever treasure freedom, like the swallow must learn to fly.


We pray for all who live in darkness: let light shine upon them.
We pray for the hungry, the poor, the weak; let the sun of a better day shine on them.
We pray: may we be among those who bring this day to pass.

A reading from the Gospel of Mary

...the Blessed One greeted them all, saying: "Peace be with you-may my Peace arise and be fulfilled within you! Be vigilant, and allow no one to mislead you by saying: "Here it is!" or "
There it is!" For it is within you that the Son of Man dwells. Go to him, for those who seek him, find him. Walk forth and announce the gospel of the Kingdom.

Reader: Let the lights we kindle shine forth for the world to see. May they illumine our lives and fill us with gratitude for those who came before us, whose will and courage, time and again, kept the flame of faith from extinction.

("LIGHTING OF CHANUKAH CANDLES, with blessing and Ma-oz Tzur.)

Call to Conversation:

(except from "The Four Zoas" by William Blake"

Reader: It is an easy thing to triumph in the summer's sun, and in the vintage, and to sing on the wagon loaded with corn. It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted, to speak the laws of prudence to the homeless wanderer, to listen to the hungry raven's cry in wint'ry season, when the red blood is fill'd with wine and the marrow of lambs.

Reader: It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements, to hear the dog howl at the wint'ry door, the ox in the slaughterhouse moan; to see a god on every wind and a blessing on every blast; to hear sounds of love in the thunder storm that destroys our enemies' house; to rejoice in the blight that covers his field and the sickness that cuts off his children, while our olive and vine sing and laugh 'round our door, and our children bring fruits and flowers.

Reader: Then the groan and the dolor are quite forgotten, and the slave grinding at the mill, and the captive in chains, and the poor in the prison, and the soldier in the field, when the shatter'd bone has laid him groaning among the happier dead.

It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity.

Closing Song: "Light One Candle"

Light one candle for the Maccabee children, give thanks that their light didn't die.
Light one candle for the pain they endured when their right to exist was denied.
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice justice and freedom demand.
Light one candle for the wisdom to know when the peacemakers' time is at hand.

Don't let the light go out, it's lasted for so many years.
Don't let the light go out, let it shine through our love and our tears.

Light one candle for the strength that we need to never become our own foe
Light one candle for those who are suffering the pain we learned so log ago.
Light one candle for all we believe in, let anger not tear us apart.
Light one candle to bind us together with peace as the song in our heart.
What is the memory that's valued so highly that we keep alive in that flame?
What's the commitment to those who have died when we cry out, "They've not died in vain?"
We have come this far always believing that justice will somehow prevail.
This is the burden and this is the promise and this is why we will not fail!
Don't let the light go out, don't let the light go out, don't let the light go out!

We ask for your coments/thoughts to continue our Sunday conversation. Thank you.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Call to Silence and Opening Meditation

Om Namah Shivaya is known as the great redeeming mantra also known as five-syllable mantra. It means “I bow to Shiva.” Shiva is the supreme reality, the inner Self. It is the name given to consciousness that dwells in all. Shiva is the name of your true identity, your self. According to Hindu mythology there are three Gods who run this creation: the Brahma, who creates the universe, the Vishnu, who preserves the Universe and the Shiva, who in the end destroys the universe. Among the three deities, Shiva, though considered as destroyer, also symbolizes the inner self which remains intact even after everything ends. In this mantra the chanter (one who repeats the mantra) bows to Shiva: his or her true self. Om Namah Shivaya.


Introductory Reading

--chanting the many names or mantras of the Gods and Goddesses--is perhaps the most important technique in Bhakti yoga. Although the practice itself is very simple, the internal process that it stimulates is vast and mysterious. Externally, we’re just singing repetitive songs with simple melodies and a few Sanskrit words. We’re asked to try to put our analytical minds to the side (easier said than done), and sing from our hearts. We’re told that whatever emotion we’re feeling, even anger, can be passionately channeled into the song. We’re told that it doesn’t matter the slightest bit what our voices sound like. Then the magic happens. Walls constructed long ago come crumbling down. Wounds that we never knew were there begin to heal. Long submerged emotions, both joy and sorrow, come to the surface to be offered up into the chant. And somehow, effortlessly, we move into a meditative state that creates a safe, calm haven for the flower of the heart to unfold. Whether or not we understand the meanings of the words, these chants become vessels to carry our deepest unspoken prayers to the infinite soul of God.

One of the amazing things about Kirtan as a practice is that it welcomes any mood or emotional condition. We can sing softly, like a mother to her baby. We can sing sensually, as if to a lover. And we can sing with the powerful energy of an angry warrior. Our whole being is offered. Whoever we are at any given time, whether happy or sad, shining with light or hidden in darkness, our prayers are perfect in the eyes of unconditional love. Finally, one who embraces the path of Bhakti very quickly stops doing these practices to get anything or feel anything. Rather, the Kirtan becomes an outpouring of love and emotion to the beloved, an unburdening, an offering . . . Truly, the essence of Bhakti is surrender, offering our individual selves to the great ocean of pure consciousness, gently resting in the loving embrace of the Divine Mother, saying, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”

The Songs: The Sanskrit words that we sing in these Kirtans are mantras, or divine names. A mantra can be thought of as a sonic embodiment of the supreme being who, through grace, takes infinite recognizable forms. When touched by the blessings of an enlightened master or the longing of a pure heart, these mantras become fully alive and have the power to carry us back to the One, the universal heart. These ancient words hold within them the very presence of the deity; they are prayers, they are vessels for our prayers, and they are that One to whom we are praying. The chants don’t tell stories and aren’t actual sentences. Rather, they are like simple road maps to help the mind leap from mental remembrance into the deepest heart essence, where we actually meet and commune with that being who is the source of all. And, really, it’s okay if we don't fully understand the translations or pronunciations. Through these simple Kirtans, we can communicate with our hearts, with our souls; we can cry, we can laugh, we can dance.

(Jai Uttal, “Kirtan! The Art and Practice of Ecstatic Chant,” Sounds True, 2003)

First Kirtan

“Sita Ram Sita Ram Sita Ram Jay Sita Ram”
Sita is the infinite Goddess, the Divine Mother, the embodiment of devotion and loyalty, the bestower of all blessings, the daughter of the earth in eternal union with Ram. Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity and abundance. She is thought of as the Kundalini Shakti, or power of God, residing within and all around us. Ram is the infinite, all-pervading supreme being, an embodiment of dharma, truth, the protector of the earth. Ram is an avatar of Vishnu, Lord and protector of the created universe, the one who preserves the stability of the worldly and heavenly realms, the supreme consciousness. . . Jay is translated as glory to, victory to. Sita and Ram are recognized as the divine couple, the union of male and female, lord and devotee, microcosm and macrocosm, Atma and Paramatma, Kundalini and Shiva (consciousness).
Approximate translation: Glory to Sita and Ram.

Second Kirtan

“Nataraj Nataraja Jay Shiva Shankara Nataraja Shivaraj Shivaraja Shambho Shankara Shivaraja Om Namah Shivaya Namah Shivaya”
Lord Shiva is the cosmic energy of change and transformation, the fire that burns away all that stands between us and freedom. He is the absolute pure consciousness, the embodiment of auspiciousness. He is known as the Lord of time, of dreams, of the unconscious mind, of ghosts, of death. He is the exhale that creates room for the inhale. He is destruction that opens up the way for rebirth. Creation, preservation, and destruction happening every moment. When we sing to Shiva, we offer ourselves to Him to be cleansed, purified, transformed, liberated. We offer our sense of separateness, our ego-driven self-will to the will of the divine. Nataraja means Lord or King (raja) of the dance (nata). This is an epithet of Shiva, referring to his tandava, his ferocious dance of fury which causes the entire world to crumble into dust. This is the auspicious and sometimes frightening clearing away of the old to make way for the creation of the new. Shivaraja means Lord or King Shiva. Shankara is an epithet of Shiva, meaning “the annihilator.” Shambho is another epithet of Shiva. Om is the cosmic sound, the sacred syllable, the core sound of creation, preservation, and destruction. Namah Shivaya is translated as: I bow to, I surrender to, I honor, I offer myself unto Shiva, the great Lord of yogis and of transformation, the indwelling higher self.
Approximate translation: Lord of the dance, Lord of the dance, glory to Shiva, glory to the annihilator, the Lord of the dance, Lord Shiva, Shambho, Shankara. Lord Shiva please perform your tandava dance of annihiliation upon the demons of ignorance and ego within me! Please grant me liberation. Om, I bow to Shiva. Thy will be done.

(Jai Uttal, “Kirtan! The Art and Practice of Ecstatic Chant,” Sounds True, 2003)

Call to Conversation

Closing Reading

A reading from the Gospel of Mary (trans. Karen King)

The soul replied, saying, “What binds me has been slain, and what surrounds me has been destroyed, and my desire has been brought to an end, and ignorance has died. In a [wor]ld, I was set loose from a world [an]d in a type, from a type which is above, and (from) the chain of forgetfulness which exists in time. From this hour on, for the time of the due season of the aeon, I will receive rest i[n] silence.”

We ask for your thoughts/comments to continue our Sunday conversation. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sunday, Nov. 28,2007


Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,
but the parent of all the others."

Gratitude Theory, The Osgood File
In recent years, many scientists have begun examining the links between religion and good health, both physical and mental. Now two psychologists are working to unlock the puzzle of how faith might promote happiness. Dr. Michael McCollough, of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University of California at Davis, say their initial scientific study indicates that gratitude plays a significant role in a person's sense of well-being.

McCollough and Emmons were curious about why people involved in their faith seem to have more happiness and a greater sense of well-being than those who aren't and decided to study the connections. After making initial observations and compiling all the previous research on gratitude, they conducted the Research Project on Gratitude and Thanksgiving. The study required several hundred people in three different groups to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day, while the second group recorded their unpleasant experiences. The last group made a daily list of things for which they were grateful.

The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Additionally, the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, was more likely to help others, exercised more regularly and made more progress toward personal goals. According to the findings, people who feel grateful are also more likely to feel loved. McCollough and Emmons also noted that gratitude encouraged a positive cycle of reciprocal kindness among people since one act of gratitude encourages another.

McCullough says these results also seem to show that gratitude works independently of faith. Though gratitude is a substantial part of most religions, he says the benefits extend to the general population, regardless of faith or lack thereof. In light of his research, McCullough suggests that anyone can increase their sense of well-being and create positive social effects just from counting their blessings.

The night's departed; yet, my friend,Our story's not yet at an end.

The Hidden Messages in Water, Masaru Emoto
Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto is known for his fascinating pictures of water crystals before and after being exposed to certain words.What he found was water that was labeled with harsh and negative words resulted in deformed crystals (if they could form at all). The most perfect crystals developed when the words "love and gratitude" were pasted onto the bottle. After seeing water react to different environmental conditions, pollution and music, Mr. Emoto and colleagues decided to see how thoughts and words affected the formation of untreated, distilled, water crystals, using words typed onto paper by a word processor and taped on glass bottles overnight..

The Astonishing Power of Emotions, Ester and Jerry Hicks
… And as you come to understand this powerful Stream of Life that we are explaining, and as you get a glimpse of the larger picture of who-you-really-are, and, most important, as you become convinced that your true work is to simply realign with who-you really-are, the Art of Allowing will become second nature to you. The most common misunderstanding that prevents people from getting control of a situation and gaining their personal balance is the belief that I need to get to where I want to be right now or as quickly as possible. We certainly understand your desire to find the answers to your questions quickly or to solve your problems as fast as you can, but still, that urge works against you. When you feel an urgency to be somewhere else, you are pushing hard against where you are. That is upstream. But an even more important flaw in the premise you are beginning from is this: In your belief that you must hurry to an improved place, you are discounting the power of the Stream, its speed, its direction, and its promise. And in the forgetting of those things, you are definitely pointed in the opposite direction of who you-truly-are and all that you have become.

So now, turn your attention once again to the upstream/downstream analogy, and feel for a moment the sensation of relief that you would experience if you had been paddling against the Current in an upstream direction and then suddenly just stopped paddling, in an attitude of giving in to the Stream and letting it just turn you and take you downstream. Let this picture soothe you even further as you try now to remember that this Stream is benevolent and wise, and it is actually taking you toward the things that you want. In your mind’s eye, lie back in your boat, feel it turn naturally downstream, and relax into the idea that this Stream will carry you to your inevitable Well-Being and to a fulfillment of your desires. You Are Adding Power to the Stream.


On gratitude and aging

Why does a date-palm lose its leaves in autumn?
Why does every beautiful face grow in old age
Wrinkled like the back of a Libyan lizard?
Why does a full head of hair get bald?
Why is it that the Lion's strength weakens to nothing?The wrestler who could hold anyone down Is led out with two people supporting him,Their shoulders under his arms?
God answers,“They put on borrowed robes And pretended they were theirs.I take the beautiful clothes back,So that you will learn the robe Of appearance is only a loan.”Your lamp was lit from another lamp.All God wants is your gratitude for that

The Gospel According to Mary
And desire said, I did not see you descending, but now I see you ascending. Why do you lie since you belong to me?
The soul answered and said, I saw you. You did not see me nor recognize me. I served you as a garment and you did not know me.
When it said this, it (the soul) went away rejoicing greatly.

We ask for your comments/thoughts to continue our Sunday conversation. Thank you.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Guidelines to Walking the Labyrinth

The labyrinth is not a maze. There are no tricks to it and no dead ends. It has a single circuitous path that winds its way into the center. The person walking it uses the same path to return from the center and the entrance then becomes the exit. The path is in full view, which allows a person to be quiet and focus internally.

Generally there are three stages to the walk: releasing on the way in, receiving in the center and returning when you follow the return path back out of the labyrinth. Symbolically, and sometimes actually, you are taking back out into the world that which you have received.

There is no right way or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Use the labyrinth in any way that meets what you need while being respectful of others walking. You may go directly to center to sit quietly -- whatever meets your needs.

To prepare, you may want to sit quietly to reflect before walking the labyrinth. Some people come with questions, others just to slow down and take time out from a busy life. Some come to find strength to take the next step. Many come during times of grief and loss.

There are many ways to describe a labyrinth. It is a path of prayer, a walking meditation, a crucible of change, a watering hole for the spirit and a mirror of the soul.


University of St. Thomas Labyrinth

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Opening Music

A World Within, from The Magdalene Mystique: Songs from Within, © 2007, Anita Kruse

There's a world within
every human heart
where a river flows
with no end or start

There's a world within
where creation blooms
with each rising sun
with each waxing moon

There’s a world within
wherever I may roam
It’s a world within
Where I find my home
There's a world within
where a wisdom flows
with a love that heals
and a peace that grows

There's a world within
where a quiet sings
with the voice of the soul

There’s a world within
wherever I may roam
It’s a world within
Where I find my home

There's a world within
where the pure light glows
with the truth we seek
and the truth we know

There's a world within
where we find ourselves
it's a quiet place
where the spirit dwells.....

There’s a world within
wherever I may roam
It’s a world within
Where I find my home

Call to Silence and Opening Meditation

A Reading from the Gospel of Mary Magdalen

What is matter?
Will it last forever?

The Teacher answered:
“All that is born, all that is created,
are interwoven and united with each other.
All that is composed shall be decomposed;
everything returns to its roots; matter returns to
the origins of matter. Those who have ears, let
them hear."


A Reading from Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi, #84, Edited by Badiozzaman Forouzanfar (Tehran, Amir Kabir, 1988)

Don't even think, just let yourself dream.
Thoughts are veils that hide the moon's bright face.
The heart's a moon, where thinking has no place.
Toss these thoughts away into the stream.

A Reading from the Wisdom of Solomon, Chapter 7

For wisdom is more mobile than any motion;
Because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things.
For she is the breath of the power of God
And a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty
For she is a reflection of eternal light
A spotless mirror of the working of God
An image of his goodness.
Although she is but one, she can do all things,
And while remaining in herself, she renews all things;
In every generation she passes into holy souls
And makes them friends of God, and prophets
For God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.

A Reading from Colossians 3

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves
With compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Above all, cloth yourselves with love, which binds everything
Together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule
In your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.
And be thankful.

A Reading from the Gospel of Mary Magdalen

Levi said, “We should clothe ourselves with the perfect Human
Acquire it for ourselves as he commanded us, and announce
The good news, not laying down any other rule or law
That differs from what the Savior said.”

Call to Conversation

Closing Music

There’s a Peace, from The Magdalene Mystique: Songs from Within, © 2007, Anita Kruse

there’s a peace that passes all human understanding
there’s a hope that offers a hand in the dark
there’s a light that’s shining with grace inside me
and I think it’s riding the wings of my heart

there’s a love that leads me
there’s a love that frees me
there’s a love that heals me when I fall

there’s a peace that passes all human understanding
there’s a love that holds us all

when the world seems shattered and faith unraveled
when the ground is shaking and lives torn apart
there’s a light still shining with grace inside me
and I know it’s riding the wings of my heart
there’s a love that leads me
there’s a love that frees me
there’s a love that heals me when I fall

there’s a peace that passes all human understanding
there’s a love that holds us all

©2006 Anita Kruse/Sandy Stewart

We ask for your thoughts/comments to continue our conversation. Thank you.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Magdalen Community is a connective community seeking conversation and dialogue
with other spiritualities and religious traditions. This Community takes
its inspiration from The Gospel of Mary, where Jesus encourages
the assembled community to find the divine nature within.

Call to Silence and Opening Meditation

What is Halloween?
What does it mean?
Beware gentle readers.
Things are not what they seem.

There was a time
There was no Halloween
There wasn’t a ghost
Or a ghoul to be seen
There wasn’t a howl
Or the hiss of black cats
There wasn’t a pumpkin
A witch or a bat

Not a creak of a door
Not a bump in the night
Not a scream
Not a scare
Not a freak
Not a fright

Then the ghosts and the goblins
Sat up and said “hey”
It’s not fair that the living
have all the holidays
They have Christmas
And Easter
And Thanksgiving too.
Yet we’ve no reason to scare
Nor cause to say “boo”.

And on that fateful day
On the last of October
They vowed that the living
Would wish this day OVER.

So stick around with us
And you’ll get to scream
During this Halloween’s
Spooky spooky dream.


Celebrating Halloween Around the World

The modern holiday of Halloween has it’s origins as The Festival of Samhain, a celebration of the end of the harvest season, and is regarded as ‘The Celtic New Year’. Traditionally, the festival was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. The Ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops. The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, where the bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or placate them.

In Western Christianity, All Souls' Day commemorates the faithful departed. This day is observed especially in the Roman Catholic Church but also in Anglicanism and to some extent also among Protestants. The Western celebration of the feast falls on November 2 and follows All Saints Day, which commemorates the departed who have attained the beatific vision. the souls of the faithful which at death have not been cleansed from venial sin, or have not fully atoned for mortal sins, cannot attain the beatific vision (God) yet, and that they may be helped to do so by prayer and by the sacrifice of the Mass.

In many countries, during these holidays, people take the day off work, go to cemeteries with candles and flowers, and give presents to children, usually sweets and toys.


On Halloween night in present-day Ireland, adults and children dress up as creatures from the underworld (e.g., ghosts, ghouls, zombies, witches and goblins), light bonfires, and enjoy spectacular fireworks displays (despite the fact that such displays are usually illegal). Halloween was perceived as the night during which the division between the world of the living and the otherworld was blurred so spirits of the dead and inhabitants from the underworld were able to walk free on the earth. It was necessary to dress as a spirit or otherworldly creature when venturing outdoors to blend in. The children knock on the neighbors’ doors in order to gather fruit, nuts, and sweets for the Halloween festival. Salt was once sprinkled in the hair of the children to protect against evil spirits.

England and Wales

All Saints Day (All Hallows Day) became fixed in 835, and All Souls Day in 998. On All Souls Eve, families stayed up late, and little “soul cakes” were eaten by everyone. At the stroke of midnight, there was solemn silence among households, which had candles burning in every room to guide the souls back to visit their earthly homes, and a glass of wine on the table to refresh them. The tradition continued in areas of northern England as late as the 1930s, with children going from door-to-door “souling” (i.e., singing songs) for cakes or money.


Scotland, having a shared Gaelic culture and language with Ireland, has celebrated the festival of Samhain robustly for centuries. Robert Burns portrayed the varied customs in his poem “Hallowe’en” (1785).
In Scotland, a lot of folklore, including that of Halloween, revolves around the belief in fairies. Children dress up in costumes and carry around a “Neepy Candle” a devil face carved into a hollowed out neep (Rutabaga), lit from inside, to frighten away the evil faeries.

United States

Halloween did not become a holiday in the United States until the 19th century, where lingering Puritan tradition restricted even the observance of Christmas prior to the 1800s. Mass-produced Halloween costumes did not appear in stores until the 1930s, and trick-or-treating did not become a fixture of the holiday until the 1950s. In the United States, Halloween has become the sixth most profitable holiday. Halloween is now the United States’ second most popular holiday (after Christmas) for decorating and the sale of candy


During the last 40 years, Halloween celebrations have been influenced by American traditions. Halloween in Mexico begins three days of consecutive holidays; it is followed by All Saints’ Day, which also marks the beginning of the two day celebration of the Day of the Dead or the Día de los Muertos.

A Reading from The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (Leloup translation)

“And Craving said: ‘I did not see you descend, but now I see you rising. Why do you lie,
since you belong to me?’ The soul answered: ‘I saw you, though you did not see me, nor recognize me, I was with you as with a garment, and you never felt me.’ Having said this, the soul left, rejoicing greatly. Then it entered into the third climate, known as Ignorance. Ignorance inquired of the soul: ‘Where are you going? You are dominated by wicked inclinations. Indeed, you lack discrimination, and you are enslaved.’ The soul answered: ‘Why do you judge me, since I have made no judgment? I have been dominated, but I myself have not dominated. I have not been recognized, but I myself have recognized that all things which are composed shall be decomposed, on earth and in heaven.’ Freed from this third climate, the soul continued its ascent, and found itself in the fourth climate. This has seven manifestations: the first manifestation is Darkness; the second, Craving; the third, Ignorance; the fourth, Lethal Jealousy; the fifth, Enslavement to the Body; the sixth, Intoxicated Wisdom; the seventh, Guileful Wisdom. These are the seven manifestations of Wrath and they oppressed the soul with questions: ‘Where do you come from, murderer?’ and ‘Where are you going, vagabond?’ The soul answered: ‘That which has oppressed me has been slain; that which encircled me has vanished; my craving has faded, and I am freed from my ignorance. I left the world with the aid of another world; a design was erased, by virtue of a higher design. Henceforth I travel toward Repose, where time rests in the Eternity of Time; I go now into Silence.’”

I get to Soul Walk!

Call to Conversation

Closing Meditation

As an expression of appreciation to The Rothko Chapel for use of this sacred space,your love offering in the box marked “Magdalen Community” will be
gratefully received. Checks may be written to “Brigid’s Place”
with ‘Magdalene Community’ in the memo line.

For more information about the Magdalen Community, please contact
or Please include “Magdalen Community” in the subject line.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Today we offer the community music and meditation. The chants will be led by Linda Larkin and the meditative thoughts are drawn from various religious traditions.

Meditation Thoughts

From Rumi, Hidden Music, translated by Azima Melita Kolin & Maryam Mafi, 59

With love you cannot bargain
There, the choice is not yours.
Love is a mirror, it reflects
only your essence,
if you have the courage
to look in its face.

Revelations from the Blessed One from The Gospel of Mary:
(read together)
"Peace be with you!
Acquire my peace within yourselves!

Be on your guard so that no one deceives you by saying,
'Look over here!' or 'Look over there!' For the child of
true humanity exists within you.

Follow it! Those who search for it will find it."

(translation by Karen King, in The Gospel of Mary of Magdala and cited in The Magdalene Mystique, 138)

From Being Still: Reflections on an Ancient Mystical Tradition, by Jean-Yves LeLoup, translated by M.S. Laird, O.S.A.

When Mr. X, a young French philosopher, arrived on Mount Athos he had already read a number of books on Orthodox spirituality, including Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart and The Way of a Pilgrim. He had been seduced without really being convinced. A single liturgy at rue Daru in Paris had inspired him to spend a few days on Mount Athos when he was on holiday in Greece. He hoped to learn a bit more about prayer and, in particular, the method of prayer practiced by those silent men in search of hesychasm, or interior peace.

This young man had read many books on meditation and prayer, but he had never really prayed or meditated before. He was looking for not only m ore lecture on prayer or meditation, but an initiation which would allow him to live prayer and to know it from within, by experience and not just be hearsay.

It would take too long to tell how h e came to meet Fr. Seraphim, a monk who lived in a hermitage near Saint Panteleimon (which the Greeks call the Roussikon). Suffice it to say that on Mount Athos the young philosopher was a little wary. He did not find the monks up to the level of his books.

Fr. Seraphim had an ambiguous reputation among his circle of monks. Some accused him of levitating, others of barking. Some considered him an ignorant peasant, others a true startez, inspired by the Holy Spirit and capable of giving profound advice and reading the secrets of the heart.

When anyone arrived at the door of his hermitage, Fr. Seraphim had the custom of observing the visitor in a most insolent way from head to foot, for five long minutes, without saying a word. Those who were not put off by this sort of examination would then undergo the monk's biting evaluation. 'You! She/He hasn't descended beneath your chin.' 'You! Let's not talk about it, She/He hasn't even come into you.' 'You! How marvelous! She/He's got right down to your knees!'

Of course he was speaking of the Holy Spirit's descent. In this way, he assessed the holiness of a visitor according to the degree of incarnation of the Spirit. The perfect person, the transfigured person, was inhabited by the Holy Spirit from head to toe. "I've only seen that once. That was staretz Silouan. He was truly a man [human] of God, full of humility and majesty."

The young philosopher was not quite there yet. The Holy Spirit had stopped at his chin. When he asked Fr. Seraphim to tell him something about prayer of the heart and about pure prayer according to Evagrius Ponticus, the old monk began to shout. This did not discourage the young man. He insisted. So Fr. Seraphim said, "Before I talk about prayer of the heart, first learn how to meditate like a mountain." And he showed him an enormous rock. "Ask it how it goes about prayer, then come back to me."

We ask for your comments/thoughts to continue our Sunday conversation. Thank you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Call to Silence & Opening Meditation

Reflection on what brings you joy.

Music: "Be Present" Anita Kruse

Be present
Act as the living presence dwells in you.

"You Are Love" @2005 Ann Bugh (Ann, Anita, All)

You are Love...Under some darkness, Nothing but brightness.
You Are Love...And...You are Loved.


Excerpted from As Above, So Below (Paths to Spiritual Renewal in Daily Life) by Ronald S. Miller and the editors of New Age Journal, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, and The Well of Creativity, A book of interviews with Michael Toms.

Great artists, in their passionate and single minded devotion to their disciplines, are similar to practicing mystics. Their works bring us into direct touch with truths at the very structure of life. Their art drives them to explore their inner worlds more deeply, while at the same time forcing them to connect and expand in ways that express shared meaning.

"True art is not an indulgence of the little self, but a manifestation of the Self." - Frederick Franck, painter

Artists have more than a special way of "seeing"; it is a way of "being". Artists must practice being open, trusting, present, attuned. Their world is a flow of images, intuitions and connections. They continually practice abandoning expectations, while surrendering to the unknown with gratitude and wonder.

"I sometimes...become conscious, realize I am surrounded by people and things,...and have the impression that I'm seeing it all for the first time." Eugene Ionesco, Dramatist

"We disappear and become a carrier wave, a vehicle for the music that plays us...and our music becomes a message about bit Self." Stephen Nachmanovitch, Musician

"Straightway the ideas flow in upon me, directly from God, and not only do I see distinct themes.. but they are clothed in the right forms, harmonies, and orchestration. Measure by measure the finished product is revealed to me when I am in those rare, inspired moods." Johannes Brahms, Composer

The notion that creativity is only for artists, however, is just that--a false notion. The creative process is the process of life--asking, surrendering, receiving. The British author Graham Wallas, in his book The Art of Thought, discerned four phases to the creative process that are similar to mystic experiences on the way to enlightenment: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification.

- In the preparation phase we ask a question or seek an answer, directing it to our unconscious.
- During incubation phase, we let it go, sleep on it, surrender it. We trust it to percolate down
into the intuitive depths, knowing what we need will come to us at the right time.
- In the illuminated stage, an answer appears like a miracle, a synchronicity, a flash of insight or
the subtlest of hints. While we recognize its significance, it may or may not look like what we
- In the final stage, verification, we have the courage to act on what we've been given.
Typically--looking back--we recognize its perfection. It was exactly what we needed.

"There's something about creativity that every human being gets an equal share." Ornette Coleman

"The news from the deeps is very good. It suggests that creative and expression are the natural activities of the human being who is able to release, at least temporarily, the inhibitions of habituation." Jean Houston, Author

"Creativity is a spiritual practice. It is not something that can be "finished'. Just when we "get there' there disappears. This unfinished quality is a requirement of a sustained creative life. It's open ended and ongoing. It asks us to constantly be willing to have the humility to begin again. It asks us to keep opening our heart to, and meeting the inner demands of our own growth. We are not dependent on any external knowledge to be 'creative'. Rather, it is our natural birthright. We are the only ones who can release it or hold it back. No matter what your age or life path, it is never too late to work on your 'creativity'". (Paraphrased from The Artist's Way - by Julia Cameron)

Our usual way to acquire knowledge is to separate ourselves from objects, observe, and analyze them. This is a dualistic process of knowing that yields knowledge "about" things we are studying. By contrast, philosophers and mystics use intuition as a way of knowing. Intuition involves a fusion of the observer and the observed that transcends separation. In becoming what we would know, we understand it in ways impossible from the dualistic perspective. Western culture tends to discredit the use of intuition over sensory-based experience. Yet, even great pioneers of science (Newton, Einstein) trusted their intuition-often following intuitive leaps with scientific observation and verification.

To make intuitive knowing central to our lives typically requires 3 practices: stilling the mind long enough to cut through to awareness; concentration on the ideal or problem we want understanding about; and finally, cultivation a receptive, non-judgmental attitude that welcomes intuition to the surface. Intuition, when cultivated like any other practice in our lives, can elevate the quality of all our experiences. Most people adopt a belief early on in their lives that "only some people are creative", yet it's that belief that keeps us from nurturing our individual creativity and embracing its daily practice as essential to a balanced life.

So take time to play, to listen within, and to be inspired. This time is as essential as taking time to eat, sleep and work. Creativity is a powerful tool of personal and communal transformation. It feeds our souls and enhances our feeling of connection. And endorphin-induced natural high is one of the by-products of daily creative exercise. Whether we consciously own it or not, we are the creators of our experience. When we create consciously in the direction of joy...

"I think of the word 'inspiration'. It comes from the word 'inspirare' in Latin (to breathe) and 'spiritus' or spirit--so we are breathing forth, bringing forth spirit. We are honoring our deepest selves. That's a beautiful way to look at it." - (Paraphrased from The Well of Creativity, Creativity as a Spiritual Practice by Michael Toms)

Call to Conversation

Music - "We all Come to the Well to be Filled" @2007 Ann Bugh (Ann, Anita, All)

We all come to the well to be filled.
Praise for the water that flows from the sea, to the river, the well, to you and me.

Closing Meditation & Music: "Simple Song" @2005 Ann Bugh (Ann, Anita, All)

Though your song be simple, let it play.
Though your song be simple, let it play.
Though your song be simple, so simple-though it be simple, let it play.

Leave your heart wide open, it will sing.
Leave your heart wide open, it will sing.
A song so simple and so open, other hearts will open up and sing.

Let the past rest easy on your mind.
Leave the future for another time.
With an open heart, and a simple song,
Fear-like yesterday-will gently face away..Leaving only love behind.

Though your song be simple, let it play.
Nothings quite so simple as they say.
With your heart wide open, and your song so simple
-soft and simple-let it play.
Though your song be simple, let it play.
Though your song be simple, let it play.
Though your song be simple, so simple--though it be simple, let it play.

We ask for your thoughts/comments to continue our Sunday conversation.
Thank you.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Call to Silence and Opening Meditation

Hiney Mah Tov U-Mah Na-Im Shevet Achim Gam Yachad
(How good and pleasant it is for everyone to live together as one)

What is Torah? The Torah is the most important document in Judaism, revered as the inspired word of God, traditionally said to have been revealed to Moses. The word Torah means "teaching", "instruction", "scribe", or "law" in Hebrew. It is also known as the Five Books of Moses, the Law of Moses, or Sefer Torah, which refers to the scroll cases in which the books are kept.

A Sefer Torah is a formal written scroll of the five books, hand-written on parchment by a trained Torah scribe under exceptionally strict requirements. The term is sometimes also used in the general sense encompassing the entire spectrum of authoritative Jewish religious teachings throughout history, including the Mishnah, the Talmud, the Midrash, and more.

The Torah comprises the first five books of the Tanakh, or Hebrew Bible, known as the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. To Jews, there is no "Old Testament", as the books that Christians call the New Testament are not part of Jewish scripture. The five books, and their names in Hebrew (the Hebrew names are taken from the initial words within the first verse of each book), with translations, are:

* GENESIS: B'reshit ("In the beginning...")
* EXODUS: Shemot ("Names")
* LEVITICUS: V'ayikra ("And he called...")
* NUMBERS: Bamidbar ("In the desert...")
* DEUTERONOMY: D'varim ("The words" or "The discourses")


Why are the words of Torah like fire?
As fire from a single flame kindles many flames, so each word of
Torah kindles many minds, illumines many hearts. The Torah gives
light to all who make use of its bright and shining flame.

The Torah is God's great gift to the House of Israel.
The People of Israel without Torah is like a body without a soul.
Like water, it cleanses and is refreshing.
Like wine, it gladdens the heart.
Like a crown, it raises us high-
Higher than the throne of kings and queens.
When Torah entered the world, freedom entered it.
The whole Torah exists only to establish peace.
Its highest teaching is love and kindness.
What is hateful to you, do not do to another person.
That is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary; go and learn it.
Those who study Torah sustain the world.
Honoring one another, doing acts of kindness, and making peace; these
are our highest duties.
And the study of Torah leads to them all.
We rejoice in Torah: it is our life, the length of our days. Praised
be the God who teaches Torah to our people Israel.


Torat Emet Natan L'amo Eyl. Al Yad N'vi-O Ne-E-Man Beyto.
Lo Yachalif Ha-Eyl, V'lo Yamir Dat.
L'olamim, L'olamim, L'zulato.
(Through the hands of Moses, God's faithful prophet, we received the Torah of truth.)


"Meditation Before Reading Torah" (a poem by Marge Piercy)

We are the people of the word
and the breath of the word fills our minds with light.
We are the people of the word
and the breath of life sings through us
playing on the pipes of our bones
and the strings of our sinews
an ancient song carved in the Laurentian granite
and new as a spring azure butterfly just drying her wings
in a moment's splash of sun.
We must life the word and make it real.

We are the people of the book
and the letters march busy as ants
carrying the work of the ages through our minds.

We are the people of the book.
through fire and mud and dust we have borne
our scrolls tenderly as a baby swaddled in a blanket,
traveling with our words sewn in our clothes
and carried on our backs.

Let us take up the scroll of Torah
and dance with it and touch it
and read it out, for the mind
touches the word and makes it light.
So does light enter us, and we shine.

Keep your father's wisdom; do not forget your mother's teachings.
Bind them always to your heart, seal them into your mind.
When you walk, they shall lead you; when you lie down, they shall keep you safe. The shall be with you when you wake up.
For the commandment is a lamp and the Torah is light.
Torah is light. In the House of Bondage it gave us hope, and showed us the way to freedom.
Torah is light; the light of our prophets, the light of our teachers.e
Torah is light. It showed us our way in the wilderness, and led us to the Land of Promise.
Torah is light: the light of our poets, the wisdom of our people. We inscribe its words on parchment, for all the people to learn.
We take it into our hearts, to do as we have learned!


Al Sh'losha D'varim, Al Sh'losha D'varim,
Al Sh'losha, Sh'losha D'varim Ha-Olam Ha-Olam Omed (2x)
Al A Torah, V'al Ha-Avodah, V'al G'milut Chasadim (2x)
(The world depends on three things: on TOrah, on worship and on acts of loving kindness.)


As You taught Torah to those whose names I bear, teach me TOrah, too.
Its mystery beckons, yet I struggle with its truth.
You meant Torah for me: did You mean the struggle for me, too?
Don't let me struggle alone; help me to understand, to be wise, to
listen, to know...
Lead me into the mystery.

From "Bringing Heaven Down to Earth" by Tzvi Freeman:

Before the experience at Mount Sinai, there was earth and there was heaven. If you wanted one, you were obliged to abandon the other.

At Mount Sinai, the boundaries of heaven and earth were broken and humankind was empowered to fuse the two: To raise the earthly into the realm of the spirit, and to bring heaven down to earth.

Before the experience of Mount Sinai, the coarse material of which the world is made could not be elevated. It could be used as a medium, an aid in achieving enlightenment, but itself could not be enlightened.

Jacob used sticks for meditation, Isaac dug wells. But neither the sticks nor the wells became imbued with Godliness.

All that changed at Mount Sinai. When you take a piece of leather and write upon a Torah scroll, you have transformed the material into spiritual. And the same with flour used for matzah for Passover night, and branches used to cover a succah, and even the earnings which you tithe for good causes. And so you may do in every aspect of your life.

Our ancestors' task was to enlighten the souls of men and women.
Ours is to transform the material darkness into light.
What is Torah?
Love your neighbor as yourself.
What is mitzvah?
Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.
What is Torah?
Depart from evil and do good; be just and do what is right; do not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling-block before the blind. The world is sustained by three things: the truth, by justice, and be peace.
The world depends on three things: on Torah, on service, and on loving deeds.
What is Torah?
The Torah is a tree of life to those who hold it fast, and all who cling to it find happiness.

What is the way of Torah?
Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace.


Eytz Chayim Hi, Lamachazikim Bah V'to-M' cheha, M'u-Shar.
D'ra-Cheha, Darchey No-=Am, V'kol N'tivotecha Shalom.
Hashiveynu Adonai Eylecha V 'nashuvah.
Chadeysh, Chadeysh Yameynu,
Chadeysh Yameynu K'kedem.
( It is a tree of life to those who hold it fast. Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace. Help us to return to You, O God, then truly shall we return. Renew our days as in the past.)

Call to Conversation

"The Silent Sound of Alef" (a story about the giving of the Ten Commandments)

No one really knows for sure what happened on Mount Sinai. Some people imagine that God dictated the whole Torah, word by word. Others believe that the Ten Commandments were carved in stone with the finger of God. The Torah itself tells different stories. Some think that, in addition to the Torah, God also whispered the Talmud (additional ancient writings) to Moses. Some believe that God did not speak or write; rather, God inspired Moses. And there are even those who think that Moses imaged the whole thing.

At different times, different people may have believed one or another explanation. That is the Jewish way. Something as important as how God talks to people and what God says has been a constant source of Jewish debate. All agree, however, that what happened on Mount Sinai was a turning point in Jewish history.

Once, several people were having just such as argument. The first one claimed that God gave the whole Torah, word by word. A second one said that God gave only the ten sayings, commonly called the Ten Commandments. A third person remembered the old legend that tells that God didn't give ten, but only the first two Commandments, ("I am the Lord your God..." and "You shall not have any other gods beside Me..."). "After tall," that person suggested," the first two sayings are the basis for all of Judaism. One who remembers that there is a God who frees people and that there are no other gods will probably be pious." A fourth person said that God uttered only the first saying, "I am the Lord our God". The four agreed that, if God had given only one saying, it would have been the most important one-that there is a God.

"No, God didn't even say that much!", insisted a fifth person. "All God said was the first word of the first saying, "I" (in Hebrew, Anochi)." All five then agreed that, if God had said only one word, it would have been Anochi, because it affirms the importance of the self.

Then Rabbi Mendl Torum ofRymanov, who had been listening to all of this, came forward and said, "Not even the first word., All God said was the first letter of the first word of the saying-which, in Hebrew, is also the first letter of the alphabet, Alef." "But we thought that the Alef was a silent letter" replied the others. "Almost, but not perfectly silent," answerd Rabbi Mendl. "You see, Alef makes a tiny, little sound that is the beginning of every sound. Open your mouth and begin to make a sound. Stop! That is Alef. God made the voice of Alef so quiet that, if you made any other noise, you wouldn't be able to hear it. At Sinai, all the people of Israel needed to hear was the sound of Alef. It meant that God and the Jewish people could have a conversation."

The Jewish mystical books teach that Alef-the "almost" sound of the first letter of the first word of the first Commandment-contains the entire Torah. But not everyone hears the gentle sound of Alef. People are able to hear only what they are aready to hear. God speaks to each of us in a personal way, taking into consideration our strength, wisdom, and preparation.

Closing Song

V'ha-Eyr Eyneynu, B'torateacha V'da-Beyk Libeynu, B'mitzvotecha.
V'yacheyd, L'vaveynu, L'ahava, U'L-Yira Et Sh'mecha.
V'lo Neivosh, V'lo Nikalem, V'lo Nikashel, L'olam Va-Ed (2x)
(Open our eyes with your Torah, consecrate our hearts to Your mitzvoth (Commandments); and let the love and awe of Your name make us whole. Then we shall never be shamed; then we shall not ever stumble)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Opening Music - Autumn Leaves

Call to Silence and Opening Meditation

"To Autumn" William Blake

O Autumn. Laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof, there thou may'st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe;
And all the daughters of the year shall dance,
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.


The Feast of the August Moon, Fall Equinox, Second Harvest Festival, Chusok or 'Moon Festival', Festival of Dionysus, Wine Harvest, Cornucopia, Feast of Avalon, Harvest Home, Festival of Greenery - Every agrarian culture I've read about, past or present, has a way of celebrating the year's harvest. Today's celebrations are the descendants of ancient ones. They mostly happen between Autumn Equinox (Sept. 23 this year) and Halloween or Samhain (pronounced sow-wen), October 31; some a bit earlier. They often link the cycles of death and life, honouring the dead as well as the harvest. In many cultures, these things are intertwined. Harvest is over, winter is coming, and people have both the time and the reason to celebrate and relax. It's a time to enjoy plentiful food while it lasts: winter can be a time of scarcity or at least monotony when it comes to food. First Nations peoples have held harvest festivals in North America for thousands of years. In the United States and Canada, holidays like Thanksgiving came to the New World along with the first Europeans. European harvest festivals originated from pagan celebrations like Mabon, the pagan Celtic festival held on the Equinox.

Fall fairs, another tradition in North America, began in Europe as trading meets held in the days after the harvest. Today's' celebrations find a place for many cops that are historical symbols of autumn: sheaves of corn and wheat, grapes and wine, gourds, dried leaves, rattles, horns of plenty, seeds and nuts, apple cider, squash, and pumpkins.

In Japan, Autumn Equinox Day is a national holiday marking the change of seasons and paying respects to the dead. German peasants at one time broke the first straws of hay harvested and said, "This is food for the dead." Buddhists celebrate equality on the equinox, the time of the year when day and night are of equal length. Moon cakes are the traditional food of harvest, and thanksgiving festivals are held in Korean. The Roman celebration was dedicated to Pomona, goddess of fruits and growing things. In England, the last sheaf of corn harvested represented the 'spirit of the field'. It was made into a doll. Corn dolls were drenched with water representing rain or burned to represent the death of the grain spirit. At other times they were kept until the following spring. The Polish Feast of Greenery involves bringing bouquets and foods for blessing by a priest, then using them for medicine or keeping them until the following years harvest.

A Reading fromThe Gospel of Mary Magdalene (Leloup translation)

'Be in harmony...' If you are out of balance, take inspiration from manifestations of your true nature. Those who have ears, let them hear.

Call to learning - Autumn Quix

Call to Conversation

Closing Meditation

"Autumn Day" by Rainer Maria Rilke

The leaves are falling, falling as from far
Withering gardens in the distant heavens;
They are falling with a gesture of nay-saying.

And in the nights the heavy earth is swaying
To loneliness from serried star on star.

We are all falling. This hand falls no less.
Nor yet this other. Falling all enfoldeath.

Yet is there One who all this falling holdeth
In His strong hands' unending gentleness.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Call to Silence and Opening Meditation

Opening Music - Cyd Baron

Return again, return again, return to the land of your Soul (2X)
Return to who you are, return to what you are,
Return to where you are born and reborn and reborn.

Hashiveynu, hashiveynu, Adonai eilecha, v'nashuvah, v'nashuva.
Chadeish, chadeish yameinu k'kedem.

(Help us to return to You, O God; then truly shall we return. Renew
our days as in the past.)


"T'shuvah" means repentance, but it also means return The month of Elul and Days of Awe-the days between Rosh Hashana (the beginning of the new year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), are also referred to as the season of t'shuvah. We look inward to see where we have missed the mark and need to improve. While Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are times of both judgment and change, the entire month of Elul serves as a safe space to restore ourselves and use the process of "tshuvah" to embark upon a new beginning.

The notion that repentance supersedes sacrifice, or punishment for sin, is prevalent in both prophetic and rabbinic literature. We are encouraged to engage in moral return every day. The great Jewish teacher Maimonides (1135-1204) articulated this in his famous "Four Steps of T'shuvah" to guide us in this process:

1) Admitting: First we admit we have made a mistake.
2) Verbalizing: "This is what I did." For this most crucial part of t'shuvah, according to Maimonides, we narrate the action done and articulate why it was wrong.
3) Regretting: "I am embarrassed by my actions," or understanding how the action harmed another individual. We imagine ourselves suffering from the effects of our actions to generate an active, internal desire NOT to do it again.
4) Resolving: "I will stop," the internal decision NOT to repeat the action. The plan or fundamental change to keep us from recommitting the offense.

Rabbi David Wolpe (Sinai Temple, Los Angeles) writes:

"Each year as Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur approach, we are reminded that sin creates distance. Distance creates factions. So we proclaim the unity of God, but the fractures in our community and in our own souls widen. Thus, the first tablets [of the commandments] were broken by sin, but on Yom Kippur Moses returned with the second tablets, all of one piece. T'shuva, repentance, had created wholeness again.

We create distance when we are afraid, and even more when we are ashamed. Just as sin is a pushing away, love is a drawing close. To believe in God's love is to have faith in the ultimate oneness of the world. For if everything is ultimately one, then all distance, all separation, is temporary. E. M. Forster's famous admonition, 'only connect' is made here into the law of the universe, into God's law: Draw close to Me, and you will be healed.

May this year help us find our way back to each other and back to God."

O, Hope of Israel:
In our weakness, give us strength.
In our blindness, be our guide.
When we falter, hold our hand.
Make consistent our impulse for good; let us know the joy of walking in Your ways.

Kol Nidrei (All Vows)

"Kol Nidrei" is the prayer of people not free to make their own decisions, people forced to say what they do not mean. In repeating this prayer, we identify with the agony of our forebears who had to say "yes" when they meant "no". "Kol Nidrei" is also a confession: we are all transgressors, all exiled from the Highest we know, all in need of the healing of forgiveness and reconciliation. For what we have done, for what we may yet do, we ask pardon; for rash words, broken pledges, insincere assurances, and foolish promises, may we find forgiveness.
For transgressions against God, the Day of Atonement atones, but for transgressions of one human being against another, the Day of Atonement does not atone until they have made peace with one another.

(prayer is sung)
Kol nidrei v'esarei v'charamei vkonamei, v'chinuyei, v'kinusei, u-sh'vuot.
Dindarna U'd'isht'va'na, U'd'acharimna, v'di'a'sarna v'di'asrna. al nafshatana.
Mi-yom kippurim zeh, ad yom kippurim ha-ba, aleinu l'tovah.
Kol-hon icharatna v'hon. Kol-hon y'hon sharan. Sh'vikin, sh'vitin, v'teylin um'vutalin.
La shirin, la shirin, la shirin, v'la kayamin.
Nidrana, nidrana lanid'rey. V'esarana, la esarey. U'sh'vuatana la sh'vuot.
(let all our vows and oaths, all the promises we make and the obligations we incur to You, O God, between this Yom Kippur and the next, be null and void should we, after honest effort, find ourselves unable to fulfill them. Then may we be absolved of them.)

CONFESSION OF SIN (to be read together as a community)

Now may it be Your will, O God of all generations, to forgive all our sins, to pardon all our wrongdoings, and to blot out all our transgressions:
The sin we have committed against You under duress or by choice,
The sin we have committed against You consciously or unconsciously,
And the sin we have committed against You openly or secretly.
The sin we have committed against You in our thoughts,
The sin we have committed against You with our words,
And the sin we have committed against You by the abuse of power.
For all these, O God of mercy, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement!
The sin we have committed against You by hardening our hearts,
The sin we have committed against You by profaning Your name,
And the sin we have committed against You by disrespect for parents & teachers.
The sin we have committed against You by speaking slander,
The sin we have committed against You by dishonesty in our work,
And the sin we have committed against You by hurting others in any way.
For all these, O God of mercy, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.

Eloheynu veylohey avoteynu: Tavo l'fanecha t'filateynu.
V'al titalam mitchinateynu. She-eyn anachnu azeyfanim uk'shey oref,
Lomar l'fanecha Adonai eloheynu veylohey avoteynu, tsadikim anachnu, v'lo chatanu,
Aval, aval, anachnu chatanu. Chatanu, avinu, pashanu.

(Our God, God of our mothers and fathers, grant that our prayers may reach You. Do not be deaf to our pleas, for we are not so arrogant and stiff-necked as to say before You, Adonai our God and God of all ages, we are perfect and have not sinned; rather do we confess: we have gone astray, we have sinned, we have transgressed.)

A Reading from the Gospel of Mary (Lelour Translation, The Magdalene Mystique)

Peter said to him: "Since you have become the interpreter of the elements and the events of the world, tell us: What is the sin of the world?" The Teacher answered: This is no sin. It is you who make sin exist, when you act according to the habits of your corrupted nature; this is where sin lies. This is why the Good has come into your midst.cats together with the elements of your nature so as to reunite it with its roots."

Then he continued: "This is why you become sick, and why you die: it is the result of your actions; what you do takes you further away. Those who have ears, let them hear."

"Attachment to matter gives rise to passion against nature. Thus trouble arises in the whole body; This is why I tell you "Be in harmony. . ." If you are out of balance, take inspiration from manifestations of your true nature. Those who have ears, let them hear."

Call to Conversation

Two short prayers by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810) in fo"The Gentle Weapon: Prayers r everyday and not everyday moments."

There must be a way I can regain decency and virture.
There must be a way I can recapture the purity and perfection of my soul.
God, lead me there; don't turn me away. Open Your hands and welcome me back.
God of wonders, You've given me the most wonderful of all gifts-the gift of free will.
May my will never deviate from Your Holy will.
Guide me always, so that all the choices I make are good ones-
choices that are in harmony with Your will, as long as I live.

Closing Music

(Jewish tradition teaches that, on the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (the Days of Awe), God writes in the Book of Life the names of those who will live and prosper in the coming year. However, the Book is not yet sealed, and during this time, true repentance can cause a name to be added. At the end of Yom Kippur, with the final blast of the shofar, the Book is sealed. Jews everywhere-even those for whom this is only a tale, wish each other "Shana tova tikateyvu" [May you be written for a good year] and "G'mar chatima tova" [May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year}.)

refrain: May you be sealed for a good year, for a sweet year, for a healthy year.
May you be written in the Book of Life. G'mar chatima tova.

1) A holy day, a solemn day. A day to set aside.
On Yom Hakipurim from our sins we will not hide.

2) We make amends to others for the wrongs that we have done.
Then we ask God for forgiveness. Yes, we face the Holy One.

3) When day turns into night, the final shofar blast we hear.
As the Book of Life is closed, we say, "In Jerusalem next year."

We ask for your comments/thoughts to continue our conversation. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sunday September 9, 2007

Today we continue our study of early Christianity inspired by the Episcopal Diocese "Peace Village" kit.

Readings - Strands of Early Christian Thought
Readings from the Lost Gospel "Q" (thought to be earlier than Mark)

As the walked along the road they met a man who said to Jesus, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to rest his head."To another he said, "Follow me." But that person replied, "Let me go and bury my fathr first." Jesus answered, "Let the dead bury their dead. Your duty is to go and spread the news of the realm of God."

Another person said, "I will follow you, but first let me go and say good-bye to my family." Jesus said to him, "no one who puts a hand on the
plough and continues to look at what was left behind is suited for the realm of God."No one lights a lamp and puts in under a bushel basket. They put it on a stand so that everyone can see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is clear, your entire body fills with light. But if your eye becomes clouded, your body is in darkness. Be careful that your light never fades into darkness.

When you see clouds in the western sky, you say, "It's going to rain"And it does! When the wind blows from the south, you predict scorching weather. And it comes! You know the lay of the land and can read the face of the sky. So why can't you interpret the here and now?

The Lost Gospel Q: The Original Sayings of Jesus (Paperback)
by Marcus Borg (Editor), Thomas Moore (Introduction)

Readings from the Gospel of Thomas
Mary asked Jesus, "Who are your disciples like?" He replied: "They are like little children in a field that does not belong to them. When the field's owners come they will say:"Give our field back." They will strip naked in the owners' presence and give it back, returning their field to them."

When you go into a region and walk around in the rural areas, whenever people receive you, eat whatever they provide for you, and heal their sick.

A Reading from the Gospels

A Reading from Luke 24: 13-35

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma'us, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cle'opas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet might in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see." And he said to them,' O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary t hat the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went into stay with them. When he was at table with them, h e took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon! Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

A Reading from The Gospel of Mary Magdalene

I, she said, I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to Him, Lord I saw you today in a vision. He answered and said tome, Blessed are you that you did not waver at the sight of Me. For where the mind is there is the treasure.

Call to Conversation

Closing Meditation