Posts Tagged ‘dance’

 

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

Sing Praises

Posted on: October 31st, 2013 by tobendlight No Comments

Alden Writing Migdal DavidI wrote this song of praise in about seven minutes while making the Kickstarter film about my forthcoming book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing. My videographer wanted a shot of me writing. Pretending to write a prayer felt silly, so I jotted down a few favorite lines, ignored the camera and let it flow. The lines are, essentially, instructions to the reader incorporated into the prayer: quite, breathe, listen. I use those same instructions in two other prayers: “We are Music” and “Invitations.”

Here’s what I wrote during the video. Since then, I’ve changed one word. The rest is exactly as I wrote it in the black moleskin notebook that you can see me using the film. The title came later.

Sing Praises
Quiet now.
Breathe.
Breathe and listen.

Listen to the prayers in the wind.
Listen to the joy on the breeze.
Listen to the hope in the heavens.
For love and life are yours.
Holiness and passion remain.
Wonder and awe
Shimmer from sunset to sunset.

This is the moment where love meets joy,
Where hope meets surrender.

What is that music?
What is that radiance?
What is that yearning?

Quiet now.
Breathe.
Breathe and listen.

Listen to your own voice.
Listen to your own prayers.

This is your power and your peace.
This is your pulse and your heartbeat.
This is your life.

Sing praises,
Sing praises.

© 2013 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Please see also: “We are Music,” “Invitations,” “Life as a Symphony,” “For the Gift of Song” and “For the Gift of Music.”

For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. Connect with To Bend Light on Facebook and on Twitter.

Photo Source: Elahn Zetlin, Chutzpah Media, from my Kickstarter

We Are Music

Posted on: February 6th, 2013 by tobendlight No Comments

music-notesThis prayer/poem is about embodying the music of life and hearing the music created when we move in and out of moments together. It’s my second incorporating instructions to the reader into the prayer. The first is called “Invitations.” This appears in 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: Please see also: “Life as a Symphony,” “Invitations,” “For the Gift of Song” and “For the Gift of Music.”

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

Miriam Danced

Posted on: January 13th, 2011 by tobendlight No Comments

“And the women dancing with their timbrels
Followed Miriam as she sang her song…”
   ― Debbie Friedman, z”l, inspired by Exodus 15-20-21

“You turned my mourning into dancing
So that my soul might turn to you…”
   ― Debbie Friedman, z”l, inspired by Psalm 30

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom in Montreal is using four of my prayers in a meditation booklet for Shabbat Shira in memory of Debbie Friedman, z”l: two about music and song, reposted here, and two about dance, reposted below. It’s humbling to see our liturgy, Debbie’s songs and my prayers together. Brenda Epstein compiles mediations for the Temple. Thanks for sharing my work with your community.

Dance Hallelujah
Hallelujah
A dance of wonder,
A dance of joy and thanksgiving.
Arms raised, hands to the sky.
Feet solid, connected to earth.
A step, a bend, a twirl, a leap.
A breath of light,
A stream of color,
Spinning toward radiance and splendor.

Let my feet lead me toward Your holy realm.
Let my legs carry me toward Your divine word.
Let my arms lift praises toward Your marvelous works.
Let my body exclaim the power of Your awesome ways.

Hallelujah
A dance of light and love,
A dance of energy and endurance,
A dance of humility and grace.

G-d of Miriam,
Prophet who danced by the sea,
Teach me the dance of awe and mystery,
Of devotion and ecstasy,
Of passion and praise.
Teach me to dance my Hallelujah.
Teach me to live my Hallelujah.
A dance of radiance,
A dance of splendor,
A dance of peace.

For the Gift of Dance
G-d, we give thanks for the gift of dance,
For the gift of rhythm and movement,
For the gift of power, awe, wonder and thanksgiving
Expressed through our bodies
In celebration of Your Divine creation.
Hear this prayer for those who dance for love and healing,
For prayer and repentance,
Seeking wholeness and light.
Make their bodies your vessel.
Let heaven pour grace and beauty through them
So that they overflow with Your spirit,
Drawing others to Your mysteries.
So that when we see this dance
Our souls turn back to You in celebration.
Together, we offer our spirits back to heaven,
And rejoice.

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

Postscript: Here are links to the four prayers selected by Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom with audio: “For the Gift of Song,” “For the Gift of Dance,” “For the Gift of Music,” and “Dance Hallelujah.”

Please use these prayers. See “Share the Prayer!” in the right hand column.

For notices of new prayers posted here, please subscribe. To read four to six mini-prayers each week, as well as notices of new prayers posted to the site, please join the To Bend Light fan page on Facebook.

Dance Hallelujah

Posted on: November 21st, 2010 by tobendlight No Comments

To dance as an expression of G-d’s love and G-d’s gifts, that is the Dance Hallelujah. This and a companion prayer, “Sing Hallelujah,” would fit well into the Hallel section of your Passover Seder. Please listen along as you read. Click on the triangle in the bar below (website only). The text follows.

Dance Hallelujah
Hallelujah
A dance of wonder,
A dance of joy and thanksgiving.
Arms raised, hands to the sky.
Feet solid, connected to earth.
A step, a bend, a twirl, a leap.
A breath of light,
A stream of color,
Spinning toward radiance and splendor.

Let my feet lead me toward Your holy realm.
Let my legs carry me toward Your divine word.
Let my arms lift praises toward Your marvelous works.
Let my body exclaim the power of Your awesome ways.

Hallelujah
A dance of light and love,
A dance of energy and endurance,
A dance of humility and grace.

G-d of Miriam,
Prophet who danced by the sea,
Teach me the dance of awe and mystery,
Of devotion and ecstasy,
Of passion and praise.
Teach me to dance my Hallelujah.
Teach me to live my Hallelujah.
A dance of radiance,
A dance of splendor,
A dance of peace.

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

Postscript: Take a look at my book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing and check out a related prayer called “For the Gift of Dance.”

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.

Motyl the Fool

Posted on: August 25th, 2010 by tobendlight No Comments

Hallelujah Scroll JamieThis short, short story celebrates the pure, unbounded joy of loving Torah. It’s a favorite and great for Simchat Torah. Here are more stories and prayers for Simchat Torah, including a prayer For The Gift of Torah Scholarship.” The image is from a poster created for my Whispered Prayer” by sofer Jamie Shear. To listen along as you read, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

Motyl the Fool
Motyl doesn’t know a single word of Talmud. He can’t recite a single verse of Torah. But when he lifts the Sacred Scroll on Simchat Torah, when he holds the wood in his hand and the velvet brushes his cheek, when the song wraps itself around his heart, the parchment itself can feel his joy. Motyl dances, clutching the Torah to his chest and singing with all his might, “Torah orah, Torah orah, hallelujah!” One by one the words of the Law rise off the Scroll to dance with him. He dances with Breisheit and Shabbat, with Shema and Hineni. And Motyl the Fool can feel the fire of G-d’s Word. Motyl doesn’t know a single word of Talmud. He can’t recite a single verse of Torah. Motyl doesn’t need to. The words know him.

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

Postscript: The full Whispered Prayer” poster is available for sale as a downloadable PDF. Click here for the full list of prayers for the Yamim Noraim. Here are focused lists of prayers for Elul, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Simchat Torah. And here’s a link to yizkor and memorial prayers.

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.

Life as a Symphony

Posted on: July 5th, 2010 by tobendlight No Comments

PassCompassion gains an element of nobility when developed as a spiritual practice. This prayer is about living a reverent and compassionate life. It’s from a set of prayers including “Life as a Garden,” “Life as a Banquet” and “Life as a Ceremony.” Each calls for the introspection to see life as a glorious gift. They appear in Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing. To listen while you read, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

Life as a Symphony
G-d of ancient secrets,
Source of life,
Creator of beauty,
Divine light of sacred truth,
My strength has its limits,
My power its purpose,
The energy of life flowing from a secret well beyond my reach
And beyond my imagination.
What I find and what finds me are a mystery and a miracle.

Heavenly hand of radiance and hope,
Author of all being,
Grant me the wisdom and understanding to live my life as a symphony,
A river of majestic music that blesses and sustains life
With holiness and love,
That I repay with kindness and charity.
Give me the passion and the patience to hear the rhythms of Your glorious creation.

You who bring beauty and song,
Guide me with Your power,
Teach me with Your kindness,
Show me the reverence for Your secret truths,
So that I live a life of joy and celebration,
With gratitude for Your creation.

Blessed are You, G-d of salvation and splendor,
Creation sings Your praise.

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

Postscript: I use this prayer for the 21th day of counting the Omer: “Nobility in Compassion.”

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: UNCW Randall Library

Yaakov Shraga: A Short, Short Story

Posted on: May 20th, 2010 by tobendlight No Comments

Save-Our-Woods-4Yaakov Shraga dances his prayer, his faith and his love of Hashem.

I wrote this in a hotel room one morning while on business travel, watching myself making dancing movements in a mirror so that the description would match the motion. To listen along as you read, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

Yaakov Shraga
Each day, Yaakov Shraga goes to dance in the woods in secret. He stands perfectly still, his arms at his sides. He listens to the birds chirp and the wind rustle the trees. He watches the rays of morning light filter through the branches and leaves. And as he takes a deep breath of cool, fresh air, Yaakov slowly lifts his arms from the wrists. When his wrists reach his shoulders he begins to sway. First left, then right, left, then right, his arms gently flowing back and forth.

Yaakov begins a nigun. As he stretches his fingers toward heaven, his hands and wrists, elbows and shoulders lilt with the tune. And his feet, compelled by the joy of the song and the rhythm of the dance and the glory of creation, carry Yaakov step-step left then step-step right. He twirls and sways, his body becoming a prayer. And the birds listen. And the wind cools him. And the morning light bends toward Yaakov Shraga to see. He dances and sings until he falls asleep. In his dream, Yaakov continues to dance and sing and spin and pray with all his heart, all his soul, and all his might.

Each day Yaakov Shraga the Cripple goes to dance in the woods in his mind, where only G-d can see him.

© 2010 Alden Solovy antobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: My dad’s Yiddish name was Yaakov Shraga, z”l. He lived with chronic pain and crippling rheumatoid arthritis first diagnosed when he was a boy. The story came, in part, from witnessing the power of his mind over pain. I’ve struggled with calling this character “the Cripple;” it flies in the face of social conscience — and my own — against using negative terms to describe the handicapped. As a writer, however, it’s clear that this usage drives the story’s impact. Here’s a link to my other short, short stories.

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. If you like this prayer, please post a link to Facebook, your blog or mention it in a tweet.

Photo credit: Save Our Woods

For the Gift of Dance

Posted on: April 28th, 2010 by tobendlight No Comments

This is another in a series of prayers celebrating the gifts of creativity and honoring artistic expression, this one focused on dance. The introduction to “For the Gift of Song”describes the common framework that I’ve used in this series. To listen as you read, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

For the Gift of Dance
G-d, we give thanks for the gift of dance,
For the gift of rhythm and movement,
For the gift of power, awe, wonder and thanksgiving
Expressed through our bodies
In celebration of Your Divine creation.
Hear this prayer for those who dance for love and healing,
For prayer and repentance,
Seeking wholeness and light.
Make their bodies your vessel.
Let heaven pour grace and beauty through them
So that they overflow with Your spirit,
Drawing others to Your mysteries.
So that when we see this dance
Our souls turn back to You in celebration.
Together, we offer our spirits back to heaven,
And rejoice.

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

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 Art,” “For the Gift of Music,” “For the Gift of Laughter,” “For the Gift of Torah Scholarship” and “For the Joy of Learning.”

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. If you use or like this prayer, please post a link to Facebook, your blog or mention it in a tweet.

For Healing the Spirit

Posted on: March 22nd, 2010 by tobendlight No Comments

Neshama LifeThis prayer opens by summoning the prophetic voice, asking that we examine our lives, that we examine why we waste our days in grief and despair. Then the prayer turns to the power we have to make our lives holy, asking us to walk toward holiness. This is one of a set of three related prayers, including “Regarding Old Wounds” and “For Sharing Divine Gifts.” All three appear in my book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing. To listen while you read, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

For Healing the Spirit
Daughter of man,
Son of woman,
Children of love and divine union:
Why do you stay buried in your losses,
Crushed by your burdens,
Drowned by your fears?
Why do you look down to the dust
When the morning sky
Bursts with daybreak?
When the night
Shimmers with starlight?
Why do you shuffle your feet
When the earth calls out
To feel your dance?

Daughter of majestic gifts,
Son of glorious secrets:
Cast off your sorrows.
Banish your pain.
Exile your grief.
There is joy in every breath,
Mystery in every sky.

Come you children of G-d,
You witnesses of life and loss:
Walk with dignity toward holiness
And with grace toward healing.
Walk with confidence into each moment
And with passion into each new day.
Then your lives will become a blessing,
A divine teacher,
An instrument of heaven,
A messenger of hope.

Blessed are You, Creator of life,
You heal the broken spirit with love.

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

Hello! New here? Want more? Subscribe here to receive my newest prayers by email. 

Postscript: Although all three of the prayers in this series have particular relevance during the Hebrew month of Elul. I’ve selected this prayer for using during week four of Counting the Omer. Here are more prayers for healing: “For a Critically-Ill Child,” “For Surgery” and “Upon Recovery from Surgery.”

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: Neshama Life

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

“Mesmerizing, spiritual, provocative, and thoughtful, Alden was everything you would want in a guest scholar and teacher.” – Rabbi Denise L. Eger, Congregation Kol Ami, Los Angeles, and Past President, CCAR

"Alden Solovy has become one of the most revered liturgists of the last decade…" - Jewish Post & Opinion, March 29, 2023

“Alden left everyone feeling inspired.” – Cantor Jeri Robins, Shabbat Chair, NewCAJE6