Sunday, April 29, 2007

halfway through the wilderness

Tonight begins not the 26th day and not the 28th day of the counting of the Omer. The movement through the wilderness that began with Passover (the beginning of freedom from enslavement) and will culminate on Shavuot (the revelation of the responsibilities of freedom) is counted as 49 days/steps, so we are now a little more than half way. At this point, I am aware that I am often saying the blessing as a quick thought- between- thoughts, and sometimes forgetting to say the blessing at all (I would forget many more nights except that I am on a daily "count the omer" email reminder list!) and that at a deeper level, haven't been consciously "making each day count" as fully as I want to.

Being a glass-half-full kind of gal, though, I can choose to receive this momentary waking up, already halfway through the wilderness, as a blessing -- I still have a little more than three weeks to participate ever more fully in this ritual counting of the days, in this ritual focus on the lifetime practice of making each day count.

Rabbi Ted writes this about the Day that begins tonight, the day of Yesod (Foundation) in Netzach (Victory/Vitality):
...Yesod, [is] the seat of ego, the place of our lesser "i," the identity with which we interact with our world. This is the Foundation from which our energies will reach out to our world.
Yesod brings this Foundation for expression into Netzach. From our physical sensations and perceptions comes our experience of the world. Netzach encourages our appreciation of that which is behind all specific forms of sensation; Yesod provides the avenue through which those energies will be able to act in the world.
Daily Focus:
My energies flow more freely now than every before. I honor the work I do in the world, and breathe new life into my being. I know the blessing of my lesser self that carries my energies out into the world for good. I am a center of energy expressing Life this day.
Artwork above "Ain Ode" (c) Avraham Lowenthal, Tzfat Gallery of Mystical Art

Friday, April 27, 2007

i've been waiting for this moment for all my life

Like "Pearls Before Breakfast", the Washington Post's article about an experiment to see what would happen when acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell performed anonymously as a busker in the Washington, DC Metro station during commute time (tiny video clip accompanies that article, and audio of the full performance is here), this video of art unfurling as a gift in a public space has been going around:

In an email conversation with some of the Beauty Dialoguers about the Washington Post article, Thomas wrote:
The curious relationship between time and beauty. . . How much nourishment of soul we lose when space and time are so deeply contracted around us.

The article brought up a memory of my own glorious street performing career. Mid-eighties in Seattle; I was without any money for a few weeks. Every day at lunch hour I'd go to an outdoor plaza at a downtown skyscraper. It was in front of a sweet little restaurant that had windows lining the courtyard where I would juggle for an hour. I remember it being really cold. I would wear fingerless gloves and just practice the hour away. I would make five or six bucks which I'd use for breakfast the next morning. After my fingers were frozen and my hour was up (and the lunchrush was over) someone from the restaurant would come out and invite me in where I would feast of the special of the day. The staff loved me. The folks on lunchbreak barely seemed to notice.
and Kara added:
As an artist, I am so grateful that our perception of when we allot time for beauty made its way into a mainstream newspaper.
There are people who seem to set a specific time for beauty, and assume that much money has to be spent for this appreciation to be valuable. I have had much luck selling humble prints in leisurely places where people are open to absorb as much beauty as they can, like on Hawaiian beaches (selling one print in the morning ensured my food for the day, so I could surf for the rest of it!;) or festivals.
I first saw this video of singing group Naturally7 (as well as the Joshua Bell article) at Patti Digh's 37Days, as part of her National Poetry Month Poemapalooza, and she got it from Sue Pelletier, (whose post includes another interesting video) and then a few days later I saw it again as the Video of the Week from KarmaTube. They accompanied it with these recommendations: "1) Experience your daily routine as if encountering it for the first time. What's new and different about today? 2) Send a note of gratitude to Naturally7, through the group's manager Birgit Kurth 3) Give way to joy."

I am grateful that I can benefit from other people's sensitive antennae, and being alerted to what they've noticed reminds me to practice stopping, and sinking in, and sensing this and every moment full of the exuberance of the world -- which we, as part of that outpouring of creation, are so perfectly attuned to recognize, our senses matching exquisitely what there is for us to sense.
"If you really want to hear with penetration and find its associated pleasures, you must imagine you are waking up over and over again -- waking on your feet, becoming aware 'in media res.' "(in the midst of things)
~ Stephen Kuusisto, Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening
Thomas, by the way, is performing someplace warmer now -- in a few weeks he is presenting the world premiere of Luminous Edge, a show commissioned by the Seattle International Childrens Festival, tickets here.

Friday, April 20, 2007

humanity's immune system

A good chunk of Paul Hawken's stirring presentation to the Bioneers community annual conference has been transcribed on their site (and my own notes are here).

Paul's exploration of the phenomenon he discusses below has culminated in a new book called Blessed Unrest, coming out May 10, and to the construction of an internet platform called WiserEarth which "...serves the people who are transforming the world. It is an open source, community-editable international directory and networking forum that maps, links and empowers the largest movement in the world – the hundreds of thousands of organizations within civil society that address social justice, poverty, and the environment.

"WiserEarth provides the tools and a platform for non-profit organizations, funders, social entrepreneurs, students, organizers, academics, activists, scientists, and citizens to connect, collaborate, share resources and build alliances.

"WiserEarth is the first of three projects to be launched under
WISER (World Index for Social and Environmental Responsibility): WiserEarth will be followed by WiserBusiness and WiserGovernment respectively. Another WISER offshoot currently in development is the WiserCommons project."

WiserEarth is accessible to the public -- go, create a profile for yourself
. Check out the "visualize network" function!

The largest social movement the world has ever known is upon us
by Paul Hawken

The social justice movement, environmental movement and indigenous movements are intertwining and morphing, and are becoming the largest social movement in the history of the world. They are, in essence, humanity’s immune response to political corruption, economic disease, and ecological degradation.

It is the first time a movement understands that honoring the web of life is integral to addressing poverty, violence, and oppression. There are still separate movements, though. There is an environmental movement and there is a social justice movement. They are definitely coming closer, but they are not yet one. If they could truly become one movement, the transformation possible would be unimaginable. When a black child in Oakland winces at the thought of an ancient tree being cut down in northern California, and when an ex-logger in northern California winces at the thought of a black teenager being cut down on the streets of Oakland, we’ll know that day has arrived.

The environmental movement seems to have the upper leg because the house is burning down. Literally. So it is very easy for the environmental movement to turn to the social justice and say, yes I know how important your issues are, but the house is burning down. You should come and join us on the environmental bus. I think that it is upside down and backwards. Global warming is injustice. It is a type of colonialism. If we are going to be effective over the short time we have, we have to slow down, stop, and change the bus. I think the environmental movement has to get on the social justice bus.

There are one million organizations in this world that are here to transform the nightmares of empire and the disgrace of war upon the people and places on this Earth. We are the transgressors and we are the forgivers. We means all of us, everyone. There can be no green movement unless there’s a black, brown, and copper colored movement.

This movement is about ideas, not ideologies. We have to make those ideas better known to the world. This movement claims no special powers. It grows up in small ways, but now we have to become more powerful. Rather than control, it seeks connection and now we must become much better connected to each other. Rather than seeking dominance it strives to disperse concentrations of power, but now we have to aggregate our voices.

We have to make it known that this movement is about addressing the suffering on this planet and those who bear the suffering. Knowing its weakness, it creates innovative tactics to leverage itself. It forms, gathers, and dissipates without central leadership command or control. No one knows its size, especially those inside it. There is such fierceness here. There is no explanation for the raw courage and the heart seen over and again in the people who march, speak, create, resist, and build. It is the fierceness of what it means to know that we are human and want to survive.

To witness the worldwide breakdown of civility into camps and ideologies and meaningless wars, to watch the accelerating breakdown of our environmental systems is harrowing and dispiriting. I said this movement is an immune system. Well, immune systems fail too. This movement most certainly can fail. What stands before us, I think, is a gift of self-perception, the gift of seeing who we really are. We will either come together as one globalized people or we will disappear as a civilization.

Our minds were made to defend us, born of an immune system that brought us to this stage in development and evolution. We are so surfeited with the metaphors of war that when we hear the word defense, we think attack. But the defense of the world can only be accomplished by cooperation and compassion.

Science now knows that every child while still in diapers exhibits altruistic behavior. It’s hardwired. It’s in our genes. Concern for the well being of others is something we are born with. We become human by helping and working with others, and buried in our genes literally is faith and love. What it takes to arrest our descent into chaos is one person after another remembering who they are, where they are and joining together to save and restore life on Earth.

Paul Hawken is the author of numerous books, including the forthcoming
Blessed Unrest. Excerpted from “Biology, Resistance and Restoration: Sustainability as an Infinite Game,” Hawken’s 2006 Bioneers conference plenary, which is available for purchase on CD or DVD (or mp3 dowload, only $1.99) at the Bioneers Store.

meditation for the 17th day

"In this week of Tiferet, we are given a Day of the Heart. We are blessed with Tiferet in Tiferet, encouraging our focus on the higher identity we call ruach, the non-ego identity which senses itself in all beings.

"What is healed in Tiferet, in the space of the Heart, is the overwhelming sense of separateness with which we often experience ourselves in our world. We reach beyond that fragmentation to perceive the deeper Consciousness within each of us. In this Consciousness we are always connected. That which animates all Being is One. And in Tiferet, we touch that One through the gift of Compassion.

"Through this awareness, we understand that all human possibilities live in each of us. There is nothing which is truly foreign. When we stop throwing others from our hearts by pretending that we are better or that they are better, the possibilities for the healing of humankind can be realized. In Tiferet, we know intimately that any person's pain is our pain, that we are part of all humankind. In Tiferet, we celebrate the awakening of others and understand how their awakening supports our own.

"Today we renew our dedication to healing by realizing how all human energies awaken in the One Light of this Greater Self. Indulgence of our violence makes a mockery of evolution; Compassion for our darkness opens the way to true growth.

"We seek to balance the energies of light anad dark, high and low, heaven and earth. From that balance, transformation emerges. In Tiferet we accept all selves, so we might more clearly discover the deeper Self we share. Through this Identity, we awaken to the deeper truth of our own uniqueness."

Daily Focus:
"I release myself to the Light of Tiferet now. I allow this Light to reach outward from my heart-space to fill my entire body. I feel this Light expand beyond myself and reflect back to me from those I meet. Now all the energies of confusion and doubt within me meet in this Light. A deep inner healing flows as blessing through every cell and every level of my being. In this Light of Comapassion, I am One now."

~~Rabbi Ted Falcon, PhD, A Journey of Awakening: Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tree of Life, pp 78-79

Saturday, April 14, 2007


From neohasid:

"We don't know whether our actions will make a difference now. That puts our efforts in the realm of ritual, where the invisible consequence of what we do is often more important or more recognizable than the visible or physical element."

Oops! How appropriate that I neglected to blog all the Counting the Omer meditations for the rest of the week of Gevurah, which means Discipline (and Limits, and Strength). So now we are in the week of Tiferet, which is translated as Balance, Beauty, Compassion, Harmony, and which is at the heart-center of the human body and at the center of the Tree of Life. (The Tree is diagrammed onto the body, with each of the sefirot corresponding to a particular place.)

Rabbi Ted says, "Tiferet is the Center of the Tree of Life. The right side of the Tree signifies force, and the left side, form. The central pillar symbolizes balance and identity. The identity of Tiferet is the 'Inclusive I,' the inclusive shared-Self behind the exclusive ego-self.
"In Tiferet, there is a balance between the self which resides in the body and the Universal Self beyond individuation. Here the worlds are connected.
"At Tiferet there is also a balance of force and form. Tiferet is the 'heart-space' of the Tree, reflected as the heart-space within each of us. Tiferet holds an ever-expanding Compassionate Awareness."

The Meditative Focus for this week is: "Now we allow ourselves to awaken to a greater sense of balance. There is a peacefulness which expands within the Heart of our being, a peacefulness which gradually radiates through our consciousness. We open to an awareness that holds compassion for everything it touches."

Tree of Life painting above, Gustav Klimt (1862 - 1918)

Friday, April 13, 2007

eco-omer and 2people

Today there were more than 1400 actions large and small all over the nation, for Step It Up 2007, National Day of Climate Action. Here, there was sun and rain and sun and then lots of rain (of course there was, it's Seattle) but there were still lots and lots of people (the news said "hundreds" but our conservative count from the sidelines before joining the parade/march was more like a couple of thousand) calling on Congress to enact legislation to reduce US carbon emissions 80% by the year 2050. There were marching salmon, trees and unindentifiable forest denizens (sorry we didn't get any good photos of them), as well as a graphic and crunchy line of sunflower seeds along Second Avenue in the downtown gallery district, showing where the waterline would be if predictions of a 20-foot high increase in the ocean's reach should come true with the melting of the polar ice caps.

One of the ways to continue to be involved is to join, the brainchild of local organizer Phil Mitchell. 2People is a combination of social networking site and climate change solutions think tank, extending this invitation: "
If you're looking for ways to get involved, and people to connect with, you can find them here. We're a community of concerned citizens, helping each other find ideas and form teams, whether it's for taking political action, greening your lifestyle, or letting others know about what you're doing."

There were a lot of faith groups in the march, too, since the reverent stewardship of this world which sustains us turns out to be an inherent teaching of many religions. And here's the connection to the counting of the Omer (because yes, it is still Omer time! Now, having said the blessing, it is the 12th day, of the 49): there is a lovely "eco-omer to honor the earth, omer lich'vod haaretz" at Bet Haverim in Atlanta, "to draw attention to the actions and attitudes that can bring an ecologically sustainable world...subtitled Project New Leaves, the experiment will attempt to engage congregants in outings and simple personal actions. The goal is to transform habits and mobilize hope. The ecological theme of each successive week is based on a successive day of creation from the Genesis story." Thanks to the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation Omer count, which is also emphasizing religious environmentalism, for the link.

And here is just another little photo of downtown Seattle from today.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

good night, mud!

Another wonderful selection from Joe who sends out a poem every day via his Panhala listserv (to subscribe, visit the archives page)

In memory of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., 1922-2007

The Last Rites of the Bokononist Faith

God made mud.
God got lonesome.
So God said to some of the mud, "Sit up!"
"See all I've made," said God, "the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars."

And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
Lucky me, lucky mud.

I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done.
Nice going, God.
Nobody but you could have done it, God! I certainly couldn't have.
I feel very unimportant compared to You.
The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud
that didn't even get to sit up and look around.
I got so much, and most mud got so little.
Thank you for the honor!

Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep.
What memories for mud to have!
What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met!
I loved everything I saw!
Good night.

~ Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. ~

Cat's Cradle)

(the drawing above is from Kurt Vonnegut's art site)

energy and form

This week resonates with the energies of the level on the Tree of Life called Gevurah (Strength, Limits) or Din (Judgment). Last night and today was the day of Gevurah in Gevurah, and tonight we enter into the day of Tiferet (Beauty, Balance) in Gevurah.

Rabbi Ted points out that,
"Gevurah, 'Strength,' is the most problematic sefirah on the Tree of Life. It is generally seen as the sefirah of Judgment, since another traditional name for this sefirah is Din, which literally means 'judgment.' Gevurah is on the left side of the Tree and so represents form, and within the world of form unfold the polarities of our experience. Gevurah represents the forms called 'feelings,' forms which contain and limit emotional energy. With Gevurah comes happiness as well as sadness, pleasure as well as pain. We cannot know one without the other. So Gevurah is seen as the origin of 'evil,' since it is the place where we first feel 'good.'

Part of the Ted's suggested meditative focus for Gevurah in Gevurah is "When I accept my current experience, I allow an expansion of feelings. New forms emerge to express deeper levels of my own integrity."

And now we've entered into the day of Tiferet -- the center and heart of the Tree of Life, which holds the qualities of Balance, Beauty, Compassion -- still in the week of Gevurah.

Today's meditative focus: "Today what was closed opens again. New possibilities awaken with the day, as I experience a renewed sense of wonder at the expansion I feel deeply within. I discover a fountain of Compassion that nourishes the fuller expression of my Being. In this Compassion, I discover forms of feeling more inviting for the energies of openness and Oneness. There is new joy in this day."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

the bottom of the tree of life

Counting the Omer (with Homer!) and continuing to take the steps from the place of enslavement ("mitzrayim") towards the place of revelation ("Sinai") that correspond to levels of energy on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, we walked yesterday through Malchut (kingdom) in Chesed (lovingkindness), and tonight into a new week, with Chesed in Gevurah (discipline, limitation, strength).

Malchut is the energetic level at the "bottom" of the Tree of Life (the bottom being the branches and leaves and fruit, with the roots reaching the other way, "up" into undifferentiated Source); all the previous energies pour like a fountain into the kingdom, the dense realm of materiality, the world of our ordinary reality. Although the material world (the earth, the dirt) is regarded in some systems of thought as the opposite of the spiritual (the heavens, the sun), far away from the realms of ascended realization, in this perspective the mundane world is always, absolutely, just as suffused with Being as any other realm -- even though it can be shadier here, and foggier. Dark, and cold, and heaviness, are all Yin qualities, as are interiority, femaleness, receptivity, stillness, depth. In many ways the most Yin aspect of the Tree of Life, Malchut corresponds to the aspect of the Divine called the "Shechinah," the Presence that dwells within
(shechinah comes from the Hebrew root that also branches into the word for "dwell"), the interiority of Being, often described as the feminine aspect of the Eternal.

Rabbi Ted
"In Malchut all the flavors of the upper vessels manifest, but the Holy is hidden in husks of materiality..."

"I grow more aware of the Presence of Lovingkindness in which this world is held. I feel this deeper influence through every cell of my being. I am always one with this Universal Source of Life. All reality reflects this Loving Presence. In all I meet, I sense the blessing of this Love."

The meditative focus for this next day, of Lovingkindness held in Limitation (the energy that restricts, constricts, and allows for the shaping and channeling of what would otherwise overflow and flood; allows for the formation of all the array of feelings from pure Love):
"I awaken to a new reverence for all the feelings which arise in me now. I grow more aware than ever that the energy of Lovingkindess animates all feelings. This awareness helps me appreciate the incredible dance of feelings I experience. I begin this second week with blessing."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

step it up 2007: national day of climate action

April 14, 2007, is "National Day of Climate Action." Serving as the organizing hub is Step It Up 2007, a grassroots group which has used email, word of mouth, and online networking (plus a write-up in Business Week, and an endorsement by Al Gore) to inspire and invite gatherings, actions and rallies of all kinds, in order to send the message to Congress to "Step it up -- cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050."

The Step It Up 2007 team
"As a truly global crisis, global warming will impact everyone. However, the impact will be felt greatest among the most vulnerable of the world’s population. While global warming presents us with our most pressing challenge, it also presents our most inspiring opportunity. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to ensure that our solutions to this crisis take these populations into account."

So far there are over 1300 rallies and actions being planned by local volunteers, with at least one in every state, and people adding new ones to the list every day. There are going to be over a dozen in Seattle alone, including
"The Marching Forest of Shoreline" ("Calling all aspiring trees, squirrels, mushrooms, suns, streams, hills, bunnies, bushes, butterflies, birds, bees, fish, flowers and bad English Ivy! We invite you, even if you don't live in Shoreline, to join our carbon-offsetting forest to help raise awareness about the global warming crisis"), a Solutions Fair, a couple of actions to mark how far the waters will rise if the polar ice caps melt into the sea, and a march between Pioneer Square through downtown to a rally at Myrtle Edwards Park (across the street from Seattle icon the Pike Place Market)

In case you can't make it on Saturday, I will try to get some good photos of the marching forest!

bonding in lovingkindness

"The sixth day of this meditative process brings the energy of Yesod (Foundation) into Chesed (Lovingkindness). Yesod...represents the ego identity in all its glories and all its limitations...

, the center of Lovingkindness, needs Yesod to carry its energies into the world, and Yesod needs Chesed in order to remember the deeper Nature of its being...

brings the personal identity, through whom all Creation will be met, into Chesed, the Lovingkindness which seeks that realization."
from A Journey of Awakening, Rabbi Ted Falcon, PhD

"Yesod of Chesed: Bonding in Lovingkindness

For love to be eternal it requires bonding. A sense of togetherness which actualizes the love in a joint effort. An intimate connection, kinship and attachment, benefiting both parties. This bonding bears fruit; the fruit born out of a healthy union.

Exercise for the day: Start building something constructive together with a loved one"

from The Meaningful Life Center, Rabbi Simon Jacobson

Saturday, April 07, 2007

eternity and glory in lovingkindness

Today was represented by the energy of Netzach (Reverberation, Endurance, Eternity) in Chesed (Lovingkindness), with the suggested focus phrase from Rabbi Ted, "...There are no limits to the energies now available. Today I honor the new possibilities for self and for the world."

And tonight -- which is not the fourth, and not the sixth, day of the counting of the Omer (the curious custom is that you don't count the day till after you have said the blessing) -- begins the day of Hod in Chesed. Hod means Glory, and Splendor, and according to some teachers is also associated with devotion and humility.

Jay Michaelson writes,
"Netzach means 'eternity;' it is the aspect of revelation which stretches horizontally for all time, and the attribute of endurance within the Divine — in the sense both of "God's mercy endures forever" and the more common usage of endurance through difficult times. Hod, its complement, means 'splendor.' It is the aspect of revelation which exists vertically, as a peak experience, or contact with that which is transcendence. It is the source of what Heschel called the experience of radical amazement: the shattering encounter with the numinous that engenders the birth of wonder.

"On the more mundane planes, we can (borrowing from Thomas Edison) understand hod as inspiration, and netzach as perspiration. Hod are those moments of insight at which we sing and shout "awwww!" Netzach are the rest of the times. Hod are, in relationship, those perfect evenings on tropical islands, where the sun sets over the water and the night is filled with love. Netzach are the times you pick your lover up at the airport. To paraphrase Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, hod is like a Ferrari; netzach like a Jeep. To paraphrase Jack Kornfield, hod is the ecstasy; netzach is the laundry."

Rabbi Ted offers this focus for meditation: "My sensations embody Lovingkindness. Through every sensation this Lovingkindness manifests. Today I perceive this Lovingkindness reflected in every perception, and know the blessing of the One Who gives all life its beauty and its glory."

(Kabbalistic Tree of Life above, silkscreen print by David Friedman in Safed, Israel)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

tiferet in chesed

Tonight is not the second, and not the fourth, day of the counting of the Omer. Still in the week that corresponds to Chesed (lovingkindness), this day corresponds to Tiferet (harmony, beauty).

Rabbi Ted writes, "On the third day of our process, we seek the balance of Tiferet in Chesed. Tiferet is the Heart Space, translated as "Beauty." It is the sefirah symbolizing the energies ofthe Greater Self, the Individuated "I."
"The Greater Self that lives within each one of us is drawn this day into the field of Lovingkindness. We receive from this outpouring of emotion that which supports the fuller awakening of our deep self. And, in turn, this Self contributes to the reality of Chesed itself..."

The meditative focus for the day:
"Within my heart I meet the deeper message of Love to be expressed through word and deed. I honor the Compassion brought this day into the flow of Lovingkindness. I feel the light of Lovingkindness illuminate my entire being, as I breathe these universal rhythms deeply. I am nourished by the compassionate flow of Life awakening within me now. In this fuller awareness, I grow and I share."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

gevurah in chesed

Tonight is not the first, and not the third, day of counting the Omer. This week corresponds to the sefirah of Chesed (lovingkindness) and this day to Gevurah (might/limitation).

Rabbi Marcia Prager explains in her lovely book, The Path of Blessing: Experiencing the Energy and Abundance of the Divine,
"Chesed is God suffusing all the worlds with life without restraint. Chesed is the boundless outpouring of divine desire to give. [Gevurah, or] 'might,' on the other hand, refers to the energy of constriction or withdrawal, also called tzimtzum, which contains and circumscribes the rush of life-force.
Through tzimtzum the full and unbearable intensity of God's unrestrained energy is reduced, cooled, and modulated...Through the quality of "might" divine light is shielded, hidden, so that our lives are possible.
...When we are in touch with [this] aspect of the divine, we discover that divine self-restraint, withdrawal, and constriction, far from being negative, are as full an expression of God's love as is God's chesed. Both are essential for our flourishing."
Rabbi Ted's meditative focus for this day:
"I honor both the energy and the form of emotional expression now. I relax body and mind, and trust the higher energies to manifest through me in supportive and healing ways. I receive more fully now, that I might express more effectively in my world."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

journey of awakening

Today is the first day and tonight is the second night of Passover. Tonight we begin to count the Omer, the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot, the 49 stages between leaving the place of enslavement, and standing in the place of revelation.

Rabbi Ted's book, A Journey of Awakening: Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tree of Life (for some reason, this book is crazy expensive on Amazon -- but you can find it at many bookstores), is a guide through those 49 steps (with the encouragment to travel through them at any meaningful time during the year). He writes,
"The traditional Counting of the Omer includes the following blessing, recited in the evening (or during the ma'ariv, the evening worship service), followed by the counting itself. When you are practicing these meditations during the actual days between Passover and Shavuot, the meditations follow the blessing and the counting.

"Our blessings themselves become meditations when they flow with kavannah, with "intentionality" and "one-pointed attention." Savor the blessing. Let it speak through the Heart of your Inner Silence. Be receptive to the meanings it holds.

"The Blessing Preceding the Counting
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech ha-olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu ahl s'firat ha'Omer. Blessed are You, Eternal One our God, Universal Creative Presence, Who sanctifies us with paths of holiness and gives us this path of counting the days of Omer.
The formula for Counting the 49 Days of the Omer Journey
Today is the ____ day, [comprising _____ weeks and ____ days] of the Omer."
Rabbi Ted's meditations for this time follow the flow of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, with each of the seven weeks of the journey, and each of the seven days of each week, reflecting one of the lower seven of the ten universal energies (sefirot). The first week, and the first day of the week (which is tomorrow), correspond to Chesed (Lovingkindness).

There is much more explanation and guidance in the book. Here is a little bit of Rabbi Ted's suggested focus for the first day: "I step beyond the safe confines of my enslavements now. I am filled with exactly the energies I need as I begin my journey toward greater purpose and meaning. I welcome this deep Lovingkindness that naturally supports my growing."

And here is the poem-of-the-day from Panhala:


Then you shall take some of the blood, and put it on the door posts and the lintels of the houses . . .
and when I see the blood, I shall pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
-Exodus 12: 7 & 13

They thought they were safe
that spring night; when they daubed
the doorways with sacrificial blood.
To be sure, the angel of death
passed them over, but for what?
Forty years in the desert
without a home, without a bed,
following new laws to an unknown land.
Easier to have died in Egypt
or stayed there a slave, pretending
there was safety in the old familiar.

But the promise, from those first
naked days outside the garden,
is that there is no safety,
only the terrible blessing
of the journey. You were born
through a doorway marked in blood.
We are, all of us, passed over,
brushed in the night by terrible wings.

Ask that fierce presence,
whose imagination you hold.
God did not promise that we shall live,
but that we might, at last, glimpse the stars,
brilliant in the desert sky.