Posts Tagged ‘journeys’

 

Another Year: An Introspection

Posted on: December 29th, 2016 by Alden No Comments

20120327-kryptomorphaics-introspection-2_mg_3874For the New Year: a meditation on the passage and the use of time. Have I spent this time wisely? And what have I learned? This prayer appears in my CCAR Press book, This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. This prayer is about living with integrity.

Another Year: An Introspection
Another year slips away,
As do they all,
Day by day,
Hour by hour,
Moment by moment.
Many used wisely,
Many wasted.

Another year opens,
As do they all,
With anticipation,
With wonder and amazement,
With excitement.
With consolation.

Was last year so different from the one before?
What will the New Year bring?
What will I bring to the New Year?

This I pledge to myself:
Love is my answer to grief,
Hope is my answer to loss,
Strength is my answer to fear,
Honor is my answer to slander,
Action is my answer to injustice.

This I pledge to you
My sisters and brothers:
To see you as you are,
To respect your journey,
To hear your truth,
To stand with you in dignity,
To walk with you as a companion and friend.

This I pledge to You
G-d of my ancestors:
To seek Your wisdom,
To follow Your command,
To obey Your Law,
To observe Your Sabbath,
To rejoice in Your works,
To do Your will.

G-d of time and space,
Another year slips away,
As do they all.
Another year opens before me,
As they all do:
With one hundred choices,
One thousand possibilities
And one sacred duty.
Life. This life. My life.

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

Postscript: Here’s another prayer “For the New Year” and a meditation called “In This Turning.”

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: jansenphoto

For Aleppo and Syria

Posted on: October 17th, 2016 by Alden No Comments

img_0712In a vicious and cruel civil war, Aleppo has become a symbol of suffering and brutality, along with thousands upon thousands of Syrian refugees. This prayer ends with the hope that a nation of justice and peace will spring forth from this tragedy.

ADDENDUM, April 4, 2017: This week, the people of Syria faced the worst chemical attack in years. As of April 7, after the U.S. bombing raid, I’ve added a reference to chemical attacks and Idlib Province to this prayer, where the attack took place.

For Aleppo and Syria
G-d of All,
Protector and Redeemer,
Watch over the people of Syria
As they endure a prolonged  and brutal civil war.
May a world of justice, righteousness and mercy
Come decisively to their aid.
Grant physical and emotional safety to
Citizens and residents,
And all who dwell there,
During this time of struggle and strife.

Grant deliverance to the residents of Aleppo and Idlib Province,
The children and the beleaguered,
Battered,
Torn apart by unrelenting bombardment,
And chemical attacks,
Surrounded by violence,
Enduring as food and electricity run low.
Let relief reach them quickly.
Bless all of the Syrian refugees
With safety and security.

End this campaign of terror
And set the people of Syria on the course
To a peaceful and prosperous future.
Grant them new leaders with courage and wisdom,
Rebuilding the land,
Creating a haven of justice and freedom for all.

Source and Shelter,
Grant peace to all nations,
So that truth and harmony resound
From the four corners of the earth.

Blessed are You, G-d of All,
Forging nations and peoples
In the crucible of history.

© 2016 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Please take a moment to read “For Peace in the Middle East” and “Israel: A Meditation.” This prayer is a revision and expansion of a prayer “For Syria” that first appeared here on July 8, 2012.

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: BBC/Reuters

Vayeira: Fire Within

Posted on: November 7th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

1-heart-on-fireBound to an altar, saved at the last minute, neither blade nor sacrificial fire touched Isaac. Not physically, but he comes off the altar a different man and never speaks to his father again. This prayer is about the wounds we carry inside, the wounds no one else can see. This piece appears in This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer from CCAR Press.

Fire Within
My burns
Cannot be seen on my flesh.
They are in my lungs
And in my eyes.
What medicine will halt the smoldering,
The smoke that suffocates from within?

My cuts
Cannot be seen on my skin.
They are in my heart
And in my throat.
What medicine will heal the bleeding,
The tide that floods from within?

Ancient One,
Release me from the fire and the knife:
The flame that consumes hope and joy,
The blade that destroys time and seasons.

Holy One,
Rock and Shelter,
Your medicine is love.
Your salve is holiness.
Your balm is life.

,בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי
אֵל רְפוּאָה וּמַרְפֵּא
.מְקוֹר חַיִּים וְאַהֲבָה

Baruch atah, Adonai,
El r’fuah umarpei
M’kor chayim v’ahavah.

Blessed are You, Adonai,
God of health and healing,
Source of life and love.

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

Postscript: I originally conceived this as a prayer for men. Many men experience our internal struggles – fears, losses, shames, angers – as fire and knife. Although I don’t know if the metaphor holds for women, this piece seems more universally a prayer for healing than my other prayers for men. It first appeared on this site on Nov. 12, 2012.

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: zoeyryanthoughts.com

Quick Blessing for a Friend’s Departure

Posted on: July 18th, 2013 by tobendlight No Comments

Friendship-Quotes-4What can I say when a friend departs? When his journey moves on? When her path and mine diverge? For me, these moments are rich with history and love, but they need few words. So here’s a quick blessing to give to a friend when your lives move apart. This will appear in my forthcoming book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing.

Quick Blessing for a Friend’s Departure
Heart of my heart,
Dear [brother/sister/friend],
Bless you on your journey.
May you find what you seek
And what you need,
What seeks you
And what calls you home.
May the light of health and hope
Carry you toward beauty and wonder.
May the light of holiness
Carry you toward strength and service.
Let peace and joy surround your days.
And let awe and thanksgiving
Lead you on a path of virtue.

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

Postscript: Other prayers in this series include: “Quick Meditation for Today,” “Quick Meditation at Noon,” “Your Name: Quick Prayer at Dusk” and “Quick Meditation at Night.” See also “Quick Prayer for Healing.”

If you use this prayer, please click “like” on this page and subscribe. Please take a moment to post a link to your Facebook page, your blog or mention it in a tweet. Thanks. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!

Photo Source: Pic Pulp

First Bird

Posted on: July 9th, 2013 by tobendlight No Comments

777px-SolsortThis prayer/poem in the voice of the spiritual traveler was inspired by the birds of Jerusalem, their many voices and songs in the early morning. It’s a companion piece to two other prayer/poems using birds as the central metaphor, “Bird is Bird” and “Soarbird.” Sometimes the spiritual traveler will say a prayer with his eyes, with her heart, with his breath, with her being. And sometimes that prayer will be “said” by listening to other voices.

First Bird
The first bird of morning
Sings alone,
For the joy of breathing,
For the glory of seeing,
For the love of being,
Alive and awake
In this world.

The second bird of morning
Sings a duet
In the gentle breeze,
As daybreak meets the earth
With the wonder of being
Alive and awake
In this world.

Then the chorus appears.
The pitch rises.
Still, they make space
For solos and for silence.
They make space
To hear
They make space
To rejoice in being
Alive and awake
In this world.

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

Postscript: I use the phase “…alive and awake in Your world…” in the prayer titled “Every Beginning.” Here’s a short, short story about listening as a way of prayer. It’s called “Chava bat Chana.”

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: Malene Thyssen

Vayishlach: The Descent

Posted on: November 28th, 2012 by tobendlight No Comments

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” – Genesis 32:25

Sooner or later every man faces the trial of his life. This meditation is a metaphor for the inner journey, the inner struggle, the battle to find holiness and a new name. It’s another in my series of prayers and meditations for men.

The Descent
When your time comes
And you hear the call
To become a man of power and wisdom,
A warrior and a king,
You will descend beyond the shadows
Into the black cliffs of your soul,
Where fear stalks the hours,
And rage laughs at the abyss,
Where shame waltzes with pride,
And grief howls, unrestrained, with pleasure.

You will reach a narrow ridge
Above the hollows where other men were lost.
You will crawl on scree,
Cutting your hands and knees,
As you press hard
Against the trail,
Against the wind.

You will enter a cavern of darkness,
The unseen color of nothingness,
Where your voice echoes with dread,
And your heart beats with longing,
Where your breath smells of remorse
And your ears ring with lies and deceit.

When you reach bottom
Your enemy will attack,
With skill and cunning,
For you have set free the torment within,
The power of your anguish and your guilt.
The night will last beyond the rhythm of natural time
Until you forget if you are the holiness or the profane.
Only then the grip of unrighteous fury will weaken
And succumb to your strength.
Wounded but victorious,
You will be blessed by fire from the torch of heaven.
Its light will blend with the coming dawn.
In that moment you will finally see
The face of the man you fought.
You will know in your bones
That you must take him back with you into the light,
For it was you who invited him on the journey.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Here are three more prayers and meditations for men: “My Work Remains,” “For the Lost” and “My Heart Knows What It Needs,” as well as a link to a list of all of my prayers for and about men.

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: Artable

Chayei Sarah 5773: Gather Me

Posted on: November 10th, 2012 by tobendlight No Comments

“And afterwards, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre, which is Hebron, in the land of Canaan.”  – Genesis 23:19

“And Abraham expired and died in a good old age, old and satisfied, and he was gathered to his people.”  – Genesis 25:8

Both Sarah and Abraham pass away in this week’s parasha. Here’s another meditation on preparing for death, focused on the comfort in the idea of being gathered to our people. My other meditations in preparation for death include: “Remember,” “Near the End: A Meditation” and “Things Break.”

Gather Me
Gather me unto my people,
The house of my ancestors,
The dwelling of our fathers and mothers,
The generations of our people.

This is my comfort,
O My Rock,
This is my consolation,
O my Redeemer,
That my bones will not be left behind,
That I will join the millennium,
And will reside in Your loving embrace,
In the abode of comfort and grace.

Gather me unto my people,
Unto my history,
Unto my legacy and my longing.
Let my heart and soul
Rest in peace.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Note the reference to Genesis 50:25, in which the children of Israel vow to take Joseph’s bones out of the land of Egypt, and Exodus 13:19, which is Moses’ fulfillment of that oath. See also: “Remember,” “Near the End: A Meditation” and “Things Break.”

If you like this prayer, post a link to your Facebook page, your blog or as part of a tweet. 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. Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing.

Photo Credit: Chabad Jewish Center of Massachusetts.

שיר בלב שלי

Posted on: July 26th, 2012 by tobendlight No Comments

HatikvahThis piece is as much a song as a prayer, written on a train from Acco to Tel Aviv in June, 2011, a trip that ultimately led to my aliyah one year later. Readers will recognize the allusion to the Israeli National Anthem, Hatikvah, ‘The Hope.’ Here’s a link to the original post, including audio of the prayer in English.

ADDENDUM, September 28, 2016: This song comes to mind as I think about the life and legacy of Shimon Peres z”l, who passed away this morning.

Postscript: This is my first attempt at a translation of one of my pieces into Hebrew. It’s not meant as a literary translation. This was an exercise that I completed at Ulpan-Or, a wonderful program of Hebrew study with amazing staff and resources. The idea came from Maytal Ganor. I worked on this translation with Yaakov Tayeb. I suspect that I’ll take another look at this translation at some point. If you have any suggestions, feel free to email them to me. Or, if you want to read some other lovely pieces about Israel, here are two links: “Israel: A Meditation” and “Jerusalem: A Meditation.”

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: Jewish Agency for Israel

All is Well

Posted on: July 10th, 2012 by tobendlight No Comments

Evening Sun and GrassThis was inspired by the following quote from Fr. Anthony DeMello: “Spirituality means waking up… All mystics — Catholic, Christian, non-Christian — they’re all unanimous, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion, they’re all unanimous on one thing. That one thing is: All is well. All is well. Everything’s in a mess. And all is well. Strange paradox. But tragically most people never get to see that. They never get to see that all is well because they’re asleep…”

All is Well
In the hills and in the valleys,
In the wind and in the clouds,
In the rivers and in the oceans,
All is well.

In the rain and in the rapids,
In the storm and in the gale,
In the tempest and in the squall,
All is well.

Oh, to live in this music.
All is well.
Oh, to live in this song.
This loveliness. This beauty.
This knowing.
This dance.
The chill at dawn and
The breeze at dusk.
These endings. These beginnings.
All is well.

In my courage and in my fear,
In my honor and in my shame,
In my silence and in my thunder.
The hawk and the owl,
The egret and the crane.
The updraft and the horizon.
The downdraft and the breaking sea.
Soaring, soaring.
All is well.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Anthony “Tony” de Mello (Sept. 4, 1931 – June 2, 1987) was a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist who became widely known for his books on spirituality. If you like this piece, be sure to check out “Come Walk.” Other songs and prayers of the Spiritual Traveler include: “Come Walk,” “Bird is Bird,” “River,” “Soarbird” and “I am Breathing.” Click here for the entire list of songs of the Spiritual Traveler.

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

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


For Syria

Posted on: July 8th, 2012 by tobendlight No Comments

This is a prayer for the people of Syria. According to CNN, “…more than 10,000 people have been killed since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011. What started as peaceful protests against the regime spiraled into a bloody government crackdown and armed uprising…”

This prayer is based on a prayer “For Libya,” which is based on a prayer “For Egypt.”

For Syria
G-d of All,
Protector and Redeemer,
Watch over the people of Syria
As they face war, revolt, violence and unrest.
Grant physical and emotional safety to
Citizens and residents,
And all who dwell there,
During this time of struggle and strife.
May a world of justice, righteousness and mercy
Come swiftly to their aid.
Grant wisdom and courage to its leaders
So that they end their campaign of terror
And begin the journey toward a peaceful and prosperous future.
Lead them on the path of justice.
Direct them on the road to freedom.
Make them a shining light of peace.

Source and Shelter,
Grant safety and security to all nations,
So that truth and harmony resound
From the four corners of the earth.
May this time of struggle and challenge for Syria
Become a blessing for its inhabitants
And for the world.

Blessed are You, G-d of All,
Forging nations and peoples
In the crucible of change
Throughout history.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: This was adapted from “For Libya,” which was based on a prayer “For Egypt.” Please take a moment to read “For Peace in the Middle East” and “Israel: A Meditation.”

If you like this prayer, post a link to your Facebook page, your blog or as part of a tweet. And don’t forget to click “like” on this page. Thanks. Please subscribe. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see Share the Prayer!

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

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