Posts Tagged ‘darkness’

 

The Dark Corners

Posted on: February 15th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

Creation_of_LightFear, sorrow and doubt cannot defeat the light of holiness, unless you let them. This prayer acknowledges difficult moments and emotions, offering the classic Jewish response to facing them with strength and dignity: Torah, tefilah (prayer) and mitzvot (acts of righteousness).

This piece is part of “Three Prayers,” in which three of my prayers are set to original choreography by Lin Batsheva Kahn of the Tikvah Company of Artists and original cello music by Desiree Miller of the Chicago Civic Orchestra. “Three Prayers” premieres in Jerusalem in June 2014 as part of an evening of dance and poetry by Miriam Engel’s Angela Dance Company. To listen to the music performed by Desiree, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

The Dark Corners
Fear lurks
In the dark corners of my heart,
Waiting to convince me
That love will fail.

Sorrow lurks
In the dark corners of my soul,
Waiting to convince me
That faith will fail.

Doubt lurks
In the dark corners of my mind,
Waiting to convince me
That wisdom will fail.

Rock of Jacob,
Teach me to shine
The light of mitzvot
Into the dark corners of my mind,
So that I face my fears with courage
Redeeming them with awe and wonder.

Song of Miriam,
Teach me to shine
The light of tefilot
Into the dark corners of my soul,
So that I face my sorrows with strength
Redeeming them with righteousness.

G-d of Old,
Teach me to shine
The light of Torah
Into the dark corners of my mind,
So that I face my doubts with honor
Redeeming them with holiness.

© 2014 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: This prayer will appear in my forthcoming book, Prayers from the Heart of Darkness.Consider using this as a slichot meditation during the month of Elul. Here are links to prayers about specific challenging emotions, including “Doubt,” “Fear,” “Anger” and “Shame.”

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 Source: WikiMedia Commons

A Heart of Love

Posted on: December 11th, 2011 by tobendlight No Comments

IMG_7032What’s the response to spiritual heartbreak, to the deep longing that remains when G-d seems distant? This prayer/poem combines the vision of the spiritual traveler with a voice of warning. The result: a stark reminder about the risks of total surrender to G-d’s love. It ends on a brief note of hope, acknowledging that even in despair G-d is available to all of us. This is the third in this series, including “A Heart of Vision” and “A Heart that Hears.” To listen along, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

A Heart of Love
I cannot hold Your love in my arms.
I cannot find Your presence with my hands.
Only my heart can know Your radiance and splendor,
Your compassion and forgiveness,
Your laughter and Your light.

Listen dear sisters,
Dear brothers.
Do not be quick to pray
To embrace life from the center of your being,
To connect from the inside out.
When you hold love in the cradle of your heart
You will drink at the oasis of joy.
But when sorrow dries up your aching chest,
You will be parched and faint
Before the fountain of G-d.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: The following prayers tackle the same theme with a call to action and a softer edge: “Let Love,” “Let Joy,” “Let Truth,” and “Let Holiness.” And here’s a prayer called “For Healing the Spirit.” Please consider purchasing my new book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing.

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 Source: Alden Solovy

For Work

Posted on: August 22nd, 2011 by tobendlight No Comments

Here’s a prayer for those seeking employment. Choices for the reader are shown in [brackets]. To listen along, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

For Work
G-d of the laborer and the professional,
Of the craftsman and the entrepreneur,
Of the clerk and the executive,
Bless us with skill and wisdom
So that we may find employment
And financial security.
Give us energy and fortitude,
Courage and hope,
As the economy [struggles to revive][slows][remains uncertain].
Help us to discover hidden talents
And new strengths that are valued by employers.

As I begin another [day][week][month][year]
Of unemployment,
Help me to remember all of Your gifts,
So that I can envision a prosperous future.
May I find work that provides meaning and sustenance.
May opportunities become plentiful for all.

Blessed are You,
G-d of bounty and grace.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Here’s a prayer to be said “Upon Losing Employment” and one to be said “Upon Gaining Employment.” This is a prayer “Against Worker Exploitation.” Here’s a link to an annotated list of prayers for social justice.

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: Deccan Chronicle

A Heart That Hears

Posted on: June 19th, 2011 by tobendlight No Comments

Combine the vision of the spiritual traveler with the voice of admonishing prophet and the result is a stark warning about the dangers of the mystical journey. This prayer ends with the seed of hope that even in despair G-d is available to us. This is part of a series, including “A Heart of Vision” and “A Heart of Love.” To listen along, click on the triangle in the bar below (website only). The text follows.

A Heart That Hears
I cannot hear Your Voice with my ears.
I cannot touch Your Glory with my hands.
Only my heart can know,
Your justice and mercy,
Your law and command,
The deafening blast of Your Shofar,
And the hushed whispers within.

Listen dear sisters,
Dear brothers!
Do not be quick to pray
To hear from the center of your being,
To perceive from the inside out.
When your heart beats with the music of the ages
You will dance in the heavens.
But when silence empties your grieving heart
You will lie vacant and hollow before the tent of G-d.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Other prayers incorporating the voice of the prophet include: “Let Love,” “Let Joy,” “Let Truth” and “Let Holiness.”

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.

A Heart of Vision

Posted on: May 7th, 2011 by tobendlight No Comments

This is from a new series of prayer/poems that combine the vision of the spiritual traveler with the voice of admonishing prophet. The result is a warning about the dangers of the mystical journey. It ends on a note of hope, acknowledging that even in despair G-d is with us. Other prayers incorporating the voice of the prophet include: “Let Love,” “Let Joy,” “Let Truth,” and “Let Holiness.”

To listen along, click on the triangle in the bar below (website only). The text follows.

A Heart of Vision
I cannot see truth with my eyes.
I cannot gain wisdom with my sight.
Only my heart can know
Mystery and majesty,
Awe and wonder,
Glory and grace.

Listen dear sisters,
Dear brothers!
Do not be quick to pray
For vision from the center of your being,
To see from the inside out.
When your heart pulses with joy and laughter
You will rise weightless into the sky.
But when your heart cries its tears of blood
You will be naked and alone in the arms of G-d.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Other prayer/poems in this series include “A Heart that Hears” and the upcoming “A Heart of Love.”

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.

Upon Losing Employment

Posted on: February 17th, 2011 by tobendlight No Comments

This prayer is to be said when losing a job. Adapt it using choices in [brackets]. To listen along, click on the triangle below. The text follows.

Upon Losing Employment
G-d on high,
I stand in the shadow of fear and loss
As my employment comes to an end.
I have no way to see or to know
How my livelihood will be restored
Or my financial obligations fulfilled.
Grant me determination through these difficult times.
Grant me strength and courage to use this moment
As an opportunity to examine my life, my goals and my needs.
Help me find a way to meet my commitments to my
[Family][children][parents][friends][and][community].

Source of goodness and life,
Watch over me in this challenge.
Protect me from bitterness and resentment.
Open my heart to understanding and forgiveness.
Grant me the patience and energy to persevere.

Blessed are You,
G-d of bounty and grace,
Who provides sustenance of body and spirit
In the hour of need.

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

Postscript: Here’s a prayer “For Work,” one said “Upon Gaining Employment” and more about emotions that may come with a job loss: “Doubt,” “Shame,” “Fear” and “Anger.” This is a prayer “Against Worker Exploitation,” one of my prayers for social justice.

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.

Anger

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

Self discipline signsWhat if anger could be redirected toward positive purpose, could we turn it into a blessing? Perhaps, only if it is channeled, disciplined and used for good. That’s why I use this prayer for the 9th day of counting the Omer, gevurah she’b’gevurah, the discipline with discipline. This prayer is about finding the blessing in anger and is from a series of prayers about difficult emotions, including “Doubt,” “Fear” and “Shame.” To listen while you read, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

Anger
G-d of the inner journey,
Source of strength,
I’ve been assaulted by an unseen foe
And comforted by a steadfast friend,
Cut down in the name of love,
Lost in confusion and dismay,
Blinded by a wave of rage
And soothed by gentle breathing.
I live between moments of desperate anger
And days of boundless joy,
Between a heart of war
And a soul of peace.

Anger is a defense.
Anger is power.
Anger is intensity.

Holy One,
G-d whose gifts challenge my understanding,
Open my eyes to injustice
And let my anger become a source of energy
Channeled toward building and healing.
Let anger be a gateway to tikun olam
So I become a force for holiness and love.

Blessed are You, Source of Wisdom,
Who created anger to illuminate the path to justice.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: See also “Doubt,” “Fear” and “Shame.” Click here to read more about the Jewish concept of repairing the world, tikkun olam, which is mentioned in this prayer.

Please check out my ELItalk “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: Three Years to 30

For Winter

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

IMG_4926Here’s a prayer for the season that appears in my CCAR Press Book, This Grateful Heart. Other seasonal prayers that appear in This Grateful Heart include: “For Spring,” “For Summer,” “For Autumn” and “For Rain.”

For Winter
Cold and dark,
Night overtakes day,
Frigid air settles over the earth.
The land waits while Your creatures rest.
Then, a shift.
Small, imperceptible,
The days begin slowly lengthen
And mornings surrender to light.
Bless this day, God of seasons.
Bless the winter with rest, renewal and love.
Be present with us as we prepare
For another cycle of seasons
With dignity and purpose.

God of time and space,
May this season be a blessing and a teacher.
Make me like the long, deep night,
A blanket of solace and comfort.
Make me like the returning sun,
A source of quiet hope.
Bless my days with service and my nights with warmth.
Make me like a new day
Dawning from the darkness.

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

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Postscript: Other seasonal prayers that also appear in This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day include: “For Spring,” “For Summer,” “For Autumn” and “For Rain.”

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: Alden Solovy

Fear

Posted on: November 3rd, 2010 by tobendlight No Comments

Scary Sky UkokoWhat if fear could become a teacher, a signal for a moment of bravery, a personal call for a moment of heroism? We would learn to embrace our fears as gifts and to use them to heal ourselves and others. This prayer is from a series about difficult emotions, including “Doubt,” “Shame” and “Anger.” To along as you read, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

Fear
G-d of veiled mystery,
G-d of hidden destinations,
I’ve walked through jet black nights
Waiting for the hint of dawn.
I’ve climbed the silent trail
Hoping to discover another wandering soul.
I’ve risen at daybreak
To conquer fierce winds and shifting snows.
I live between moments of power and moments of despair,
Between victory and defeat,
Between crushing losses and uncertain futures.

Fear is a memory.
Fear is a warning.
Fear offers a choice.

Holy One,
G-d who placed challenges and triumphs
In the path of the righteous
And at the feet of our ancestors,
Help me to see my fear as a tool,
As a source
And as a friend.
Let fear be my calling to bravery,
An invitation to vitality and strength.

Blessed are You, G-d of trials and victories,
Who created fear as the pathway to power.

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

Postscript: I use this prayer for day 23 of counting the Omer. Other prayers in this series include: “Doubt,” “Shame” and “Anger.”

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: KOCO Oklahoma City Radio

Shame

Posted on: October 18th, 2010 by tobendlight No Comments

Can shame be a blessing? Can shame be blessed? This prayer is part of a series of prayers about difficult emotions, including “Doubt,” “Fear” and “Anger.” Listen while you read by clicking on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

Shame
G-d of my heart,
Source of my spirit,
I’ve been swallowed by a dirge
And elevated by songs of celebration.
I’ve judged myself harshly
And given myself grace.
I’ve climbed to see the glorious sunset
And have laid low, shivering against a pounding storm.

I live between moments of joyous surrender
And times of lonely isolation,
Between calm and storm,
Between shame and wonder.

Shame is a mirror.
Shame is a doorway.
Shame is a guide.

Holy One,
G-d of mysteries beyond my understanding,
Help me to see my shames as teachers and guides,
As reminders of my sacred humanity,
Leading me to a vision of my best self.
Let shame be the gateway to truth
So that I may release it without fear,
In awe and righteousness.

Blessed are You, Redeemer of the lost,
Who created shame so that we might discover the path to wisdom.

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

Postscript: Here are prayers about “Doubt,” “Fear” and “Anger.”

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.

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

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