Archive for the ‘Hopes’ Category

 

The Density of Love

Posted on: July 18th, 2023 by Alden No Comments

A simple prayer/poem about love and hate, fire and water, written in the voice of the spiritual traveler, the one who knows, the one who hints at secrets, the one who loves you on your journey, the one who lives above the flames…

The Density of Love
Hate has a specific gravity,
A relative density to love
So much heavier,
Molten lava singeing water,
Creating steam.

O you hearts of gold,
You precious metal,
You live above anger’s fire,
And cannot be burned.

© 2023 Alden Solovy and ToBendLight

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Please check out These Words: Poetic Midrash on the Language of Torah and my other CCAR Press volumes: This Grateful Heart, This Joyous Soul, and This Precious Life, which can also be purchased as the Grateful/Joyous/Precious trilogy. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter. For a taste of my teaching, see my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer.”

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One You

Posted on: April 25th, 2021 by Alden No Comments

A meditation on the vastness of creation and the uniqueness of each and every soul. This piece appears in This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer from CCAR Press.

One You
Love
Is a bridge
To the moment of creation,
The moment
When G-d’s heart
Could no longer be contained,
When light exploded
In a big bang,
Creating billions and
Billions of stars,
Millions and
Millions of galaxies,
Planets, moons,
Solar systems without number,
And one,
Only one,
You.

Yes,
You are
The impossible
Yet here-you-are
Miracle of love.
The impossible
Yet here-you-are
Miracle of life.
The impossible
Yet here-you-are
Miracle of G-d’s
Loving hand
And outstretched arm,
Created in the same instant that
Holiness, mercy, beauty, goodness,
Righteousness and grace,
Began to expand
Throughout the universe.

© 2021 CCAR Press from This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer

Please check out my CCAR Press Grateful/Joyous/Precious trilogy. The individual books are: This Joyous Soul , This Grateful Heart, and This Precious Life. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter. For a taste of my teaching, see my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer.”

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Photo Source: NASA

The Dissenter’s Hope: In Memoriam, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, z”l

Posted on: September 20th, 2020 by Alden No Comments

“…that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow…” – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, z”l, NPR interview, 2002

This prayer for justice is written in memoriam for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, z”l. Three ideas drove this piece. First, that it should echo her passion, inspired by some of her own words. Second, that others would write her eulogy and tell her story; rather, this prayer envisions the future she worked toward. Third, that it reflect her deep connection to the principles of justice found in Judaism by quoting Jewish text. The obvious choice would have been Deuteronomy 16:20 — “Justice, justice you shall pursue” — but since she died on Erev Rosh Hashanah, a reference to the High Holiday liturgy seemed more fitting to the moment.

The Dissenter’s Hope
Never surrender the fight for today,
And never give up the dream of a better tomorrow.
For this is the dissenter’s hope,
That one day,
Some enlightened day in the future,
When truth is given full voice,
Justice will win the majority,
And the bell of freedom will ring
With new clarity.

For nations and societies are ever-threatened
By oppressors and would-be despots,
New pharaohs with old designs
For power and dominion.

Never surrender the fight for today,
And never give up the vision of a better tomorrow.
For the work of liberty can be slow,
The ongoing pursuit of equality and love of humankind.
This is the dissenter’s hope,
That some enlightened day in the future,
Every call for justice will win the majority,
And the light of freedom will shine
With perfect clarity.

וּבְכֵן צַדִּיקִים יִרְאוּ וְיִשְׂמָֽחוּ וִישָׁרִים יַעֲלֹֽזוּ וַחֲסִידִים בְּרִנָּה יָגִֽילוּ וְעוֹלָֽתָה תִּקְפָּץ פִּֽיהָ. וְכָל הָרִשְׁעָה כֻּלָּהּ כְּעָשָׁן תִּכְלֶה כִּי תַעֲבִיר מֶמְשֶֽׁלֶת זָדוֹן מִן הָאָֽרֶץ

Uvchein tzadikim yiru v’yismachu, visharim yaalozu, vachasidim b’rinah yagilu, v’olatah tikpotz-piha, v’chol harishah kulah k’ashan tichleh, ki taavir memshelet zadon min ha-aretz.

And then the righteous will see and rejoice, and the upright will exult, and the pious will rejoice with song; injustice will have nothing more to say, and wickedness will vanish like smoke, when You sweep the rule of evil from the earth.

© 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript: The liturgical quote comes from the High Holiday Amidah. The Hebrew is from Sefaria.org, the transliteration from Mishkan Hanefesh, and the translation is a combination of translations from Sefaria, the Koren High Holiday Machzor, the Silverman (1951) machzor, and Mishkan Hanefesh. Thank you to Sivan Rotholz for the nudge to write this piece.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Wildly Unimaginable Blessings: A Prayer for 5781

Posted on: September 17th, 2020 by Alden No Comments

This new Rosh Hashanah prayer — written this morning — is a response to Covid-19. Since March, since the reality of pandemic and plague struck our worlds, wildly unimaginable shifts have occurred in the way we live and, perhaps, the way we see life. One lesson of these unimaginable losses and changes is the possibility that there might also be wildly unimaginable blessings. The idea for this prayer came as I signed an email to musician Josh Nelson. I concluded: “For a year of wildly unimaginable blessings. Your friend, Alden.” So the idea for this prayer was born. This prayer, followed by my 5780 prayer “Pervasive Peace,” would make a lovely kavanah for the New Year.

Wildly Unimaginable Blessings
Let us dream
Wildly unimaginable blessings…
Blessings so unexpected,
Blessings so beyond our hopes for this world,
Blessings so unbelievable in this era,
That their very existence
Uplifts our vision of creation,
Our relationships to each other,
And our yearning for life itself.

Let us dream
Wildly unimaginable blessings…
A complete healing of mind, body, and spirit,
A complete healing for all,
The end of suffering and strife,
The end of plague and disease,
When kindness flows from the river of love,
When goodness flows from the river of grace,
Awakened in the spirit of all beings,
When G-d’s light,
Radiating holiness,
Is seen by everyone.

Let us pray —
With all our hearts —
For wildly unimaginable blessings,
So that G-d will hear the call
To open the gates of the Garden,
Seeing that we haven’t waited,
That we’ve already begun to repair the world,
In testimony to our faith in life,
Our faith in each other,
And our faith in the Holy One,
Blessed be G-d’s Name.

© 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

New here? Subscribe here to get my newest prayers by email.
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Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: WikiMedia Commons

Sowing Light: A Prayer/Poem Inspired by Text

Posted on: May 22nd, 2020 by Alden No Comments

This prayer/poem is inspired by Psalm 97, recited at Kabbalat Shabbat. The Psalm ends with this: “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart…” (Psalm 97:11-12) What if, in the tradition of the rabbis, we changed one word to reexplore the meaning? Instead of “…for the righteous…” use “…by the righteous…” This prayer reimagines the closing couplet after changing that one word. Join me on Ritualwell for a four-week immersion class on Writing from Sacred Text.

Sowing Light
Light is sown by the righteous,
Tucked into cracks in the sidewalks,
Dropped in the grass,
Breathed into the air,
Left waiting for others to find.

You who are upright in heart,
Let your deeds declare your love,
Let your hands be a source of healing,
Let your joy be a fountain of blessing.

Rejoice in righteousness,
And spread holiness throughout your days.
Light is sown for you
To magnify in service to G-d’s holy name.

© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day

Postscript: Midrash Psalms 97:2 interprets the line to mean that a great spiritual light, created at the beginning of all things, was set aside by G-d for the righteous as their reward at the end of days. As a result, Siddur Sim Shalom breaks with the classic translation – the translation found in both Mishkan T’fillah and the Koren Sacks Siddur – by rendering the line as “Light is stored for the righteous…” This prayer appears in my book This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Selma in the City

This Prayer is a Tree

Posted on: April 6th, 2020 by Alden No Comments

If a prayer is recited in the woods, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

This Prayer is a Tree
Could it be
That a prayer
Is like a tree
Falling in the woods?
No one needs to hear
Its thunderous crash,
For its nutrients to soak
Back into the earth.
For its hollows
To provide shelter.
For it to become
One with life itself.

Let your prayers
Pour out upon
The fertile ground
Of your heart.
Let your prayers
Feed your aching soul.

Could it be
That your prayer
Is like a tree
Falling in the woods?
No one needs to see it
Crack and tumble
For it to clear space
For new growth.
For it to open space,
Letting sunlight
Penetrate the deep.
For it to become
One with life itself.

© 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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See also: “Tending Gardens,” “Life as a Garden” and “The Broken Sky.”

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: WikiMedia Commons

Unfinished Business

Posted on: January 26th, 2020 by Alden No Comments

This is a meditation on the unfinished business in my life. Loving more deeply. Being more present. Showing more gratitude. Living the life that G-d wants for me. A life of courage, joy and faith. There are places I’ve yet to see. There are songs and poems and prayers that I’ve yet to write. This is the unfinished business of my life.

Unfinished Business
There is so much unfinished business in my life.
So much I have left undone.
Have I shown you my heart,
The well of love and sorrow,
Of fear and joy,
That I keep deep within?
Have I given you my hands,
The source of power and support,
Of gentleness and compassion,
As a gift of devotion?
Have I held you with my eyes,
The river of blessings
That flow as grace
From my core to yours?

There is so much unfinished business in my life,
To attend with joy and dancing,
Sending love from my soul to yours,
Now and forever.

© 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

New here? Subscribe here to get my newest prayers by email.
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Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: NASA

Tears, Too Close: A Prayer of Consolation

Posted on: August 18th, 2019 by Alden No Comments

A prayer of consolation, weaving in lines from each of the seven weeks of Haftarot of consolation from Isaiah which began the past Shabbat Nachamu. Use this prayer on Tisha B’Av, Shabbat Nachamu, and all of the seven Shabbatot of consolation. This piece appears in This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer from CCAR Press. For Rosh Chodesh Av, consider using “Hallel in a Minor Key.”

Tears, Too Close: A Prayer of Consolation
These tears are too close to my eyes
Ready to burst forth
For the sorrow that surrounds us.

These tears are too close to my heart
Ready to burst forth
For the pain that surrounds us.

These tears are too close to my soul
Ready to burst forth
For the heartbreak that surrounds us.

Comfort, oh comfort My people, says your God. (Isaiah 40:1)
For G-d will comfort Zion. (Isaiah 50:3)
נחמו נחמו עמי יאמר אלהיכם
כי־נחם ה’ ציון
Nachamu, nachamu ami, yomar Eloheichem,
Ki nicham Adonai Tzion.

Well of compassion,
Comfort of generations,
Let us cry together
For all that has been lost,
For all that might have been.

It is I, it is I who comforts you, (Isaiah 51:12)
And great shall be your children’s peace. (Isaiah 54:13)
אנכי אנכי הוא מנחמכם
ורב שלום בניך
Anochi anochi hu m’nachemchem
V’rav shalom baniyich.

Yearning,
Still yearning,
For solace and consolation,
Yearning,
Still yearning,
With hope and faith,
Yearning,
Still yearning,
For healing to flow more freely
Than these ripened tears.

Arise, shine, for your light has dawned, (Isaiah 60:1)
For mountains may move and hills be shaken
But My kindness shall not be removed from you. (Isaiah 54:10)
And the angel of G-d delivered them,
In love and mercy G-d redeemed them. (Isaiah 63:9)
קומי אורי כי בא אורך
כי ההרים ימושו והגבעות תמוטנה
וחסדי מאתך לא־ימוש
ומלאך פניו הושיעם
באהבתו ובחמלתו הוא גאלם
Kumi or’i ki va orech
Ki heharim yamushu v’hagvaot t’mutenah
V’chasdei m’eitecha lo yamush.
U’malach panav hoshei’am,
B’ahavto u’vchemlato hu g’alam.

© 2021 CCAR Press from This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer

New here? Subscribe here to get my newest prayers by email.
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Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Fighting the New Anti-Semitism

This Day, Revised

Posted on: August 7th, 2019 by Alden No Comments

Here’s a meditation about living a life of love and honor in service to G-d and the world. It is offered now as a balm in the face of a difficult week of mass shootings in the U.S. The first two stanzas pose questions: “What do I ask of this day?” and “What does this day ask of me?” This revised version adds a final stanza, in the tradition of Jewish prayer, restating and strengthening the core message.

This Day, Revised
What do I ask of this day?

Joy and laughter.
Kindness and grace.
To live with dignity and compassion,
Humility and strength.
Work. Honest Labor.
A job. A livelihood.
Food. Clothing. Shelter.
Gratitude and hope.
Love and contentment.

What does this day ask of me?

Humor and wonder.
Forgiveness and surrender.
To act with reverence and respect.
To be awake and alive
With passion and commitment.
Justice. Righteousness. Charity.
Integrity and honor.
Gratitude and hope.
Love and contentment.

G-d of blessings,
Let me be a source of peace,
A beacon of comfort,
And a well of blessings,
This day,
And every day,
In service to Your world.

© 2019 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com

Postscript: The original version of this prayer was first posted here on Nov. 27, 2011. Here are more brief prayers for the day: “Quick Meditation for Today,” “Quick Meditation at Noon,” “Your Name: Quick Prayer at Dusk” and “Quick Meditation at Night.”

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Image Source: WikiMedia Commons

Show Me

Posted on: July 24th, 2019 by Alden No Comments

What does G-d want from us? Our service to Torah, mitzvot and tikun olam. These actions are a source of holiness and love. Thank you to Joanne Fink and Zenspirations for use of the illustration.

Show Me
Show me the works of your hands
And the deeds of your heart
And I will cause holiness
To pass through you
Like the wind through the trees
Summoning your soul
To mingle with Mine.

Set your mind to all
That is kind and just,
Compassionate and good.

Set your hand to all
That is right and true,
Charitable and healing.

Incline your heart to all
That is righteous and holy,
Glorious and full of wonder.

© 2019 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

New here? Subscribe here to get my newest prayers by email.
Share the prayer! Email this to a friend.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Zenspirations by Joanne Fink

“Alden has become one of Reform Judaism’s master poet-liturgists…" - Religion News Service, Dec. 23, 2020

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