Posts Tagged ‘beauty’

 

Three Meditations for Tu B’Shvat

Posted on: January 24th, 2021 by Alden No Comments

Here are three meditations for Tu B’Shvat. It’s also called Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot, the ‘New Year of the Trees,’ which begins Wednesday evening, Jan. 27, 2021. A festival of renewal and hope, it’s celebrated as an ecological awareness day, as well as a day for planting trees.

Orchid, Cedar and Date Palm
If only I could see
Your love as an orchid blossom,
I would smell the secret scent of holiness
From the heavens.

If only I could see
Your love as a cedar in Lebanon
I would stand tall in the strength
Of Your glory.

If only I could see
Your love as a date palm,
I would become the sweet fruit
Of divine plenty.

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.

Tending Gardens
Wildflowers bloom,
A field of colors,
A meadow on a hillside,
Wild and free,
Tended by sun and rain,
Gently painted by the will of the earth.

Another place of delight,
My garden blooms,
A blueprint from my heart,
Guided by my hand
Tended with love and affection
Planted according to my design.

G-d of splendor,
Grant me the willingness to plant gardens
And the wisdom to leave other gardens
To Your loving hand.
Teach me the beauty of doing
And glory not doing.
Grant me the power to act
And the strength to refrain.
Let my will to create,
And my willingness to accept,
Find balance and harmony
In my heart and in my hands,
So that my doing,
And my not doing,
Serve Your will
And Your world.

“Orchid, Cedar and Date Palm” and “This Prayer is a Tree” are © 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. “Tending Gardens” is © 2021 CCAR Press from This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer.

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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: Alden Solovy

Orchid, Cedar and Date Palm

Posted on: May 10th, 2020 by Alden No Comments

A simple meditation inspired by nature. Israel is home to roughly 30 varieties of wild orchids. I took this photo of a pyramidal orchid — בן-סחלב צריפי — on Friday on a hike from Tel Socho to Givat Yishaiyahu, about 40 minutes from Jerusalem. Every Shabbat we sing: “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree, growing tall like a cedar in Lebanon.” (Psalm 92:13)

Orchid, Cedar and Date Palm
If only I could see
Your love as an orchid blossom,
I would smell the secret scent of holiness
From the heavens.

If only I could see
Your love as a cedar in Lebanon
I would stand tall in the strength
Of Your glory.

If only I could see
Your love as a date palm,
I would become the sweet fruit
Of divine plenty.

© 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: Alden Solovy

Let’s Hike Together in Israel

Posted on: April 13th, 2020 by Alden No Comments

I wrote this meditation — “On the Trail” — after 17 days thru-hiking and  mountaineering on Mount Rainier. In Israel, I’m still an avid hiker. So… let’s go hiking together! Really. When we’re done sheltering in place, Via Sabra – the experiential Israel tour pros – and I invite you to hike with me in my spiritual Israel. We’ll have a professional tour guide describing the land and plan a variety of cultural and culinary experiences. For those inclined, I’ll lead a variety of spiritual experiences. If you’re interested in finding our more, drop me an email.

On the Trail
G-d of beginnings,
G-d of mystery and adventure,
The path is steep,
The route is hidden,
The trail a narrow ridge line,
Exposed and treacherous,
Slicing between majestic canyons,
Rising to the awesome sky.
The load is heavy, the destination unknown,
But the journey has rhythm and dance,
Song and story,
Ancient music that rises around us,
To take us from sunset to sunset
As we move into the glorious unknown
Step by step,
Moment by moment,
Day by day by day.

G-d of the wayfarer,
G-d of the traveler and sojourner,
Divine light of wonder and truth,
Lead us.
Show us the way
Across vast open spaces
And through tight, narrow passages.
Guide us.
Show us the way
Through stormy days
And moonless nights.

Blessed are You, Source and Shelter,
Guide and Compass, Oasis of Strength,
You lead Your people from trail to trail,
From trial to trial,
From darkness to light,
With love.

© 2010 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: This prayer will appear in my forthcoming book This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer. It was first published on April 4, 2010.

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.

Photos of Alden Solovy

Come Walk, Revisited

Posted on: July 19th, 2019 by Alden No Comments

Saturday marks 50 years since the first manned spacecraft landed on the Moon, with the first human steps there coming a few hours later, with Apollo 11 Commander Neil Alden Armstrong’s now immortal words: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” In that moment, it seemed that there were no horizons that we couldn’t conquer with effort and imagination. In 50 years we’ve learned more about the vastness of our universe and the depths of our inner dimensions. To commemorate the first moon walk, here’s an invitation for you to walk the unexplored landscapes of your heart.

Come Walk
I know a man who lives in a rainbow.
I’ve heard the poet who lives on the moon.
I’ve heard the secret that sings all around you.
I know a man who can teach you the tune.

Hear the music among the lilies
And whispers in the blades of grass.
Hear the thunder beneath the ocean.
Feel the love that will always last.

Come walk the sacred sunshine.
Come walk the Milky Way.
Walk gently through the heavens.
Walk gently through each day.

Put your head upon my shoulder
And your hand upon my chest.
Put your hope above your sorrow.
Give yourself a time to rest.

I know a man who sings from the mountains,
And another who sings from the seas.
I’ve heard the man who sings from his glory,
And the man who sings on his knees.

Come walk between the layers of clouds.
Come walk the spirals of stars.
Walk gently through joy and sorrow.
Walk gently, walk holy, walk far.

© 2010 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: This meditation first appeared on this site on August 8, 2010. Thank you to Ira Scott Levin, Julia Bordenaro Levin and Tracy Friend. Their music helped me find this voice. Thanks also to Ros Roucher, her comments on earlier drafts. Here are more prayer/poems from the spiritual traveler: “All is Well,” “River,” “Bird is Bird” and “About the Rainbow.” 

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: Wikipedia

Farewell Ushpizot, Ushpizin: Meditation Before Taking Down a Sukkah

Posted on: September 26th, 2018 by Alden No Comments

Each year, we construct beautiful dwellings for Sukkot. We intentionally create temporary, holy spaces. We invite the presence of honored guests, the ushpizin, seven prophets, patriarchs and kings of old. We invite the ushpizot, seven women prophets named in the Talmud. Some include the matriarchs. Some invite men and women from history.

This meditation for taking down a sukkah is meant to slow down the process, briefly, so that we disassemble it with intention, inviting the holiness of the space that we created into our lives.

Farewell Ushpizot, Ushpizin
Farewell, Ushpizot.
Farewell, Ushpizin.
You have brought blessing and wisdom
To our sukkah – this tabernacle of joy –
As our honored guests.
Watch over us as we journey on.
Stay with us in our hearts.

Farewell, Ushpizot:
Sarah and Miriam,
Devorah and Hannah,
Avigail, Huldah and Esther.

Farewell, Ushpizin:
Abraham and Isaac,
Jacob and Joseph,
Moses, Aaron and David.

Farewell to all who have graced this space
With your warmth and friendship.

.למען אחי ורעי, אדברה-נא שלום בך
Lma-an achai vrei-ai, adab’rah na shalom bach.
For the sake of my companions and friends,
I will speak of peace. (Ps. 122:8)

Taking down this sukkah,
We take the holiness into ourselves,
Dreaming of a time
When G-d’s sukkat shalom
G-d’s tabernacle of peace –
Will cover the earth.

Taking down this sukkah,
We pledge to carry holiness,
Love and light,
Peace and thanksgiving,
Into our lives and into the world.

© 2018 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript: In using this meditation, adapt the names mentioned to those you invited into your sukkah. The meditation is my response to the unceremonious way that sukkot seem to be disassembled. What happens to the holiness created? Does it disparate? And what about our honored guests? We invite them in, but don’t have the courtesy to say farewell?

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: 6SqFt

Beauty Dances

Posted on: September 23rd, 2018 by Alden No Comments

sukkotOn Sukkot, joy and beauty arrive. We are called to bring that beauty into the world. This piece appears in This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press. Here’s a link to more prayers and meditations for Sukkot.

Beauty Dances
Beauty dances
With us
Whenever we build
A tabernacle
To God’s holy Name.

Love sings
With us
Whenever we rejoice
In gladness
On God’s festive days.

Peace cries
With us
Whenever we yearn
In prayer
For God’s holy shelter.

Come,
Let us build this place,
This tabernacle where we praise,
With all of our hearts,
God’s pardon and promise.
Let us build this place,
Where we delight,
With thanksgiving and wonder,
In God’s bounty and gifts.

Come,
Let us build this place,
This sukkat shalom,
This shelter of peace,
Where beauty dances
And love sings.
Where peace cries out:
Build, build,
You Children of Israel,
A tent of holiness,
Strong and true.
Build it in your heart,
In your home,
In your life,
In God’s world.

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

Postscript: This prayer first appeared on this site on Sept. 10, 2011. Find it in This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

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: The Toronto Centre

Ha’azinu: We Are Music

Posted on: October 14th, 2016 by Alden No Comments

music-notesIn this week’s parasha Ha’azinu (Deut. 22), Moses sings a majestic farewell song, beginning by calling on the heavens to hear. The Haftarah (II Sam. 22:1-51) is David’s Song of Thanksgiving. This prayer/poem is about embodying the music of life, hearing the music created when we move in and out of moments together. This piece appears my forthcoming book, This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings, from CCAR Press.

We Are Music
Quiet now.
Listen.
Breathe.
And listen.

You are music.
Your breath and hands,
Your smile and tears,
Your eyes and pulse,
Are notes that dance
In the space between us.

We are music.
A symphony conducted
By the rhythm of life,
By G-d’s hand,
By our choices, day-by-day.

Our notes play on,
Separately, together,
The sacred sound of living.
Our music waltzes,
Making melodies fresh and new,
Never heard again,
Bass lines that pulse from our hearts
To the Soul of the Universe.

Joy bends sorrow.
Sorrow bends hope.
Hope bends grief.
Grief bends love.
Love bends joy.

Quiet now.
Listen.
Breathe.
And listen.

The silence is your longing.
The silence is your yearning for a different song.
The music of your own will
Blocks your heart to the harmonies
Already dancing around you,
To the chorus already singing around you.

Oh, you hidden delight of heaven.
Oh, you secret gift of G-d.
We are music.
We are music.
The music plays
Through us.

© 2019 CCAR Press from This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings

Postscript: While Moses calls on the heavens to give ear, this meditation calls on us to listen to our own — and to each other’s — hearts. This is my second meditation incorporating instructions to the reader into the prayer. The first is called “Invitations.” Both include this exclamation: “Oh, you hidden delight of heaven. Oh, you secret gift of G-d. Please see also: “Life as a Symphony,” “For the Gift of Song” and “For the Gift of Music.” This prayer first appeared on this site on Feb. 6, 2013.

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 Credit: Picks and Sticks Music

Breathe

Posted on: July 12th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

Sky and LakeThis prayer is a simple reminder to breathe and the gifts that coming from simply being. It includes a space to include a name, yours or someone else’s, so that you can use it as reminder to yourself or as a hope for someone else. Six other pieces of mine include the instruction to breathe. Three of my favorites are: “Sing Praises,” “We Are Music” and “Invitations.”

Breathe
Listen, dear __________ (your name or another name),
Remember to breathe,
Remember to fill your chest
With the sweet taste of living,
To fill your heart
With a gentle gift of peace.
The breath of God
Surrounds you.
Let it flow through you.
The pulse of the universe
Beats with you.
Let it enliven you.
Invite your inhale,
The willingness of this moment.
Release your exhale,
And surrender to being.
Fill your lungs.
Feel them.
Feed them.
Heal them.
And you will know,
The majesty of now,
And the mystery
Of forever.

© 2015 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: My three other prayers with the instruction to breathe are: “Choosing to Heal,” “Let Your Heart Stir” and “Rules for Being Me in Jerusalem.”

Tweetable! Here’a suggested tweet. Please tweet it (with link): “…fill your heart with a gentle gift of peace. The breath of God surrounds you…” https://tobendlight.com/?p=13239

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Photo Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library

The Gifts of Our Lives

Posted on: April 4th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

Divine-Gifts-6129895This new prayer of gratitude includes an alphabetical acrostic. Acrostics were a mainstay of Jewish liturgical poems, known as piyutim. This piece combines the acrostic with a four-part structure that repeats in each of the internal stanzas, using the metaphor of G-d as “well,” “source,” “foundation” and “crown.” In an early draft of a prayer called Elijah, I spelled his name with the initial letters in each of the opening lines, but later revised the piece to broaden its scope, losing the acrostic.

The Gifts of Our Lives
With gratitude and appreciation
We give thanks for the gifts
Which flow into our lives day-by-day.
A river of divine blessing.

For You are the well of Abundance,
The source of Beauty,
The foundation of Courage
And the crown of Dreams.

You are the well of Energy,
The source of Faith,
The foundation of Grace
And the crown of Hope.

You are the well of Insight,
The source of Justice,
The foundation of Kindness
And the crown of Love

You are the well of Mercy,
The source of Nourishment,
The foundation of Our Lives
And the crown of Peace.

You are the well of Quiet,
The source of Righteousness,
The foundation of Strength
And the crown of Truth.

For You are the well of Understanding,
The source of Vitality,
The foundation of Wonder
And the crown of Years.

With gratitude and appreciation
We give thanks for the gifts
Which flow into our lives day-by-day.
A river of divine blessing.

© 2015 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Note that this acrostic is incomplete, it that I did not create lines for the letters q’ and ‘z.’ My other prayers of gratitude include several favorites: “Fresh Delights,” “Now,” “One Gift,” “Unseen Lands”  and “Sacred Cargo.”

Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Heaven Now

Vayakhel-Pekudei: For the Gift of Art

Posted on: March 10th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

'Windows_Open_Simultaneously_(First_Part,_Third_Motif)'_by_Robert_DelaunayIn this week’s double torah portion, Vayakhel-Pekudei, the master artist Bezalel is named to direct the creation of the tabernacle, all of its symbols and tools, as well as the vestments of the priests. From Impressionism to Dada, from sculpture to photography, from Michelangelo to Chagall to Hokusai, the visual arts are amazing. Here’s another prayer celebrating creativity. It follows the same structure as the others in this series, which is explained in the introduction to “For the Gift of Song.”

For the Gift of Art
G-d, we give thanks for the gift of art,
For pencil and paint,
For glass and fabric,
For metal and stone,
For the gift that sees wisdom and beauty hidden in Your works,
For the skill and love that creates and crafts,
Releasing divine radiance for others to see.
Hear this prayer for those who fashion art
Revealing the secret glories of Your creation.
Make their works Your vessel.
Let heaven pour its vision through them
So that they overflow with Your light
Drawing others to Your glory.
So that when we see their works,
Our souls turn back to You in appreciation.
Together, we offer our gratitude back to heaven,
And rejoice.

© 2010 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

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Postscript: Be sure to check out the other prayers in this series: “For the Gift of Song,” “For the Gift of Words,” “For the Gift of Dance,” “For the Gift of Music,” “For the Gift of Laughter,” “For the Gift of Torah Scholarship” and “For the Joy of Learning.” This prayer first appeared on this site on July 2, 2010; this version has slight modifications.

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: WikiMedia Commons, ‘Windows Open Simultaneously (First Part, Third Motif)’ by Robert Delaunay

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