Monday, December 31, 2018
Listen...for the Oneness - A Poem/Prayer - for the Temple Beth-El Las Cruces January 19 Adelante Newsletter
Friday, December 28, 2018
The Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden was wondering what had happened.
Everything was quiet. There had been people there. Two of them. They were gone. She asked the Tree of Knowledge if he knew why there had been a change. He told her to speak to the Eternal One.
There was silence. Then there was a voice.
“Yes, my Eitz Chayim, did you call?”
“Why is it so quiet? Where did the people go? Did I do something to make them leave?” The Tree of Life was extremely concerned.
The Eternal One reassured her, “No, Tree of Life. You did nothing wrong. They did, though. I had told them not to eat of your fruit or the fruit of your companion, the Tree of Knowledge. They did eat his fruit, and it opened their eyes in a way that made it impossible for them to stay here.”
Eitz Chayim replied, “My Creator, I am sad. I was actually getting to like having them around. Where did they go? Will they be safe?”
The Eternal One was reassuring, “Yes, they will be secure. They will have to work hard to survive. I will be watching them and inspire them to grow when necessary. Don’t worry about them.”
Eitz Chayim was not convinced. “Source of all life, I AM worried. Will they always realize You won’t be far away from them while they are living in their new home? Will they be able to overcome their fears and to live and thrive? Will they make the right decisions for their future? They might need a lot of assistance. I want to help!”
The Eternal One thought for a moment. “Eitz Chayim, would you like to be closer to them?”
“Yes, my Creator, Yes!”
The Omnipresent One looked intently at the Tree of Life, causing a soft wind to move her leaves on her branches. “I have a proposal for you. I will send you out into the world. There will be many other trees out there. You will make friends with them. You will guide them. You will be My eyes and ears to make sure that the people - and there will be many of them - will treat my plants and creatures with great care. They will tend to you, help you grow, and make more trees grow like you. You will be called an almond tree - SHAKED, or, in your case, SH’KEYDIAH - and they will make many of you in all of the places where you can grow.”
“And I will give you a special gift. Some of the people will follow a man named Moses, who will lead them to freedom after hundreds of years of enduring cruel slavery. I will instruct Moses, their leader, to have them make a seven-branched symbol of light that will look like you. It will feature shapes of almond blossoms on top. And you, my Eitz Chayim, will be able to watch them (SHAKAD) day and night not only through all your tree children, but in any place where their light symbol - the Menorah - will stand in the special houses where they will worship Me and pray about taking care of the world - including you - and each other.”
“Really, Eternal One? That is so kind of you. I will do what you ask!” The Tree of Life was excited about her new existence among the people.
“And...one more thing. When it gets cold in the places where you grow, you will be the first tree to show your blossoms. That will so amaze the descendants of Moses and his people that they will celebrate a New Year of Trees. It will be called Tu Bish’vat. It will be a day to remind them to care for the world, including you and your fellow trees, because this is the only world they will have.”
The Eitz Chayim was ready. “My Creator, I will watch them and guide them. I promise! Lead me to my new home!”
Friday, December 21, 2018
Jacob had just finished blessing his grandchildren
And was preparing to speak to his children to tell them of their future.
He was alone, in the comfort of his quarters in Egypt
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Who rolls darkness away from light,
Uncover and reveal the lights inside of us that You have nurtured throughout our lives
The light of kindness, which guides us to offer support and concern to our fellow human beings and to overcome heartlessness and cruelty;
The light of truth, which leads us to discover, speak and share what is true and real and to gives us the strength to prevent deception from allowing justice and fairness to flourish;
The light of wisdom, which enables us to develop our most creative ideas and to share them in ways that engender cooperation;
The light of patience, which makes it possible for us to be accepting of others when we might not otherwise not be;
The light of leadership, which gives us the opportunity to find new abilities within ourselves and to inspire others;
The light of healing, through which we are able to let go of past hurts that can cause us pain and hold us back, and to overcome the challenges to our well-being that are a part of our present;
The light of dedication, which binds us together in vision, friendship, and community as we walk our common path side-by-side.
Be with us, Eternal One, and may Your light always make our lights shine.
Friday, December 7, 2018
Faiths United in Humility, Patience, Service to Others - Column for Las Cruces Bulletin on December 7, 2018
Several days before Thanksgiving, beginning in 2015, Temple Beth-El’s Social Action and Adult Education committees have sponsored a program of interfaith dialogue on a chosen theme. Several local clergy and faith leaders offer their perspectives on the topics, and then they lead program participants in small group discussions reflecting on the presentations.
This year, at the program on November 18, the theme was “With Liberty and Justice for All - Leadership, Justice and Unity: What Can We Achieve Together?”
To begin, I shared two prayers for our country from Jewish prayerbooks. Both prayers spoke about liberty, justice, unity, and respect.
Father Ron Catherson (St. John’s Catholic Church of Antioch) defined liberty as “the power to act,” and explained that the freedoms we are granted in our country (religion, speech, peaceful assembly, etc.) carry with them responsibility and consequences. We can use our freedom to treat others with respect and love.
Pastor Donna Cavedon (First Christian Church) declared that people of faith respond to the injustices they witness based on their sacred texts. Religious teachings, rather than politics, form the foundation of a belief that justice is only justice when it is justice for all.
Sureyya Husain (Islamic Center of Las Cruces) said that “it is the foundation of faith to hold fast to humility that teaches us to honor the differences among us. We are admonished to stand firm for liberty, and for justice, and to not let the hatred of any people prevent us from being just.”
The Rev. Carol Tuck (United Methodist), in her remarks on leadership, focused on biblical examples of leaders who served the people. Public service is a privilege that citizens need to honor and support, because so many public servants do their work without appreciation. Competent servant leadership is necessary for accomplishing justice and liberty for all.
Gordon Butler, from the Baha’i community, addressed the topic of unity. Religion, he said, has the true purpose of bringing unity to humankind. Even when some human communities have been at war with each other, there has always been a persistent pursuit of peace, stability, and dignity for our fellow human beings.
The Rev. Dr. Harvey Daiho Hilbert (Founding Abbot and Senior Teacher of the Order of Clear Mind Zen) explained that “the path of unity of spirit is a path of getting out of our own way. When we can do that, all faith traditions can come together. It is rather like setting ourselves aside for the sake of the higher good.”
Pastor Jared Carson (Peace Lutheran Church) spoke about collaboration, which he characterized as “hard, complex and messy,” but it begins when we are willing to put ourselves in the same place with people from other faith traditions.
Insightful comments emerged from the small group discussions following the presentations:
- People recognized how their respective faith traditions help them handle change in their lives.
- Caring for others and being present with them can give us a clear perspective about their realities.
- Collaboration and cooperation are not about being in agreement, but, rather, about the desire to be together. We, as human beings, don’t want to be alone.
This time of year features celebrations that are characterized by symbols of light. May we be guided in our own lives and in our connections to the greater community by the lights of understanding and respect that can lead us all to freedom, justice and unity.
Saturday, December 1, 2018
I didn’t want to go.
But I was told I had to go.
I knew about Joseph’s dreams
And his conflicts with his brothers
Because Joseph seemed to be expressing delusions of grandeur.
That view was only the understanding
Of the rest of his family.
He was only telling them
Of the visions that had come to him as he slept.
He was a dreamer then
But not yet an interpreter of dreams.
That would come later.
God told me,
“Go meet Joseph when he is searching for his brothers
At the behest of his father. Show him the way.”
I didn’t want to go.
I told God, “Eternal One, you know what will happen if I tell Joseph
The location of his brothers.
They are conspiring, even now,
to exile him from the family one way or another.
And we know, God, what will happen.
They will sell him and he will end up in Egypt
Where he will meet his destiny.
His dreams will come true.
His father and his brothers will bow down to him.
He will be in control of the situation
Because he will learn to explain the dreams of others.
But why, God, must he spend so much time in prison?
Why must he suffer to make his dreams come to pass?
God reassured me, “I will make the time pass quickly.
People never know how one moment
Can be so important, so pivotal, to their future.
You have to be there to point him in the right direction.
His brothers will not appreciate his presence when he finds them.
But they will remember after he is gone
After they have lied to their father about the death of his favored son
That Joseph had come to them
In peace and in service to them and to the family.
You, of all angels, know about brothers who will eventually
Find their common bonds
Find their connection
And find, on some level, the love between them.
I sent you to be with Jacob before he met with Esau after so many years,
And they reconciled, but only because you did so well
In wrestling with Jacob, helping him to find his true self,
giving him his new name, Israel.
If you send Joseph to greet his brothers,
Even knowing what they will do to him in the moments to follow,
You will set in motion the survival of Joseph and his whole family.
So go, send him on his way.
He will find himself, and his place in the world.
And he will be reunited with his brothers and save them.”
I thought for a moment, and said,
“Eternal God, my teacher, my guide, I will go
Only if you promise to grant Joseph and every human being
An extra measure of compassion
So that when they feel they are conflict with each other
To the point of no return,
They will be able to deeply sense each other’s feelings
To understand one another
And they will remember that they are brothers and sisters,
Part of the same family.”
God told me, “If you go send Joseph on his way,
I will grant your request. People will be so inspired
By the story of the eventual reunion of Joseph and his brothers
That they will find a way to do the same with each other.
Even when people feel they are far apart,
They will still find a way to come together.”
So I went, and I prayed for the reconciliation of humanity
Throughout their generations
So that they would know
Harmony and peace.
So may there be among us.