Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Making our Confession Real: Tools for On-going Teshuvah - Part 1

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

Just before Yom Kippur, I posted Al Chet - Confessional for the Earth So many are the deeds, misdeeds, and non-deeds in relation to the Earth for which we must confess, and then, hopefully, do teshuvah. With this post I begin a series of suggestions for how to implement changes that can help to make our confessional meaningful beyond its words, into actions.

I begin with a response to this phrase:
For the sin we have committed against You by believing we are doing enough,
Do you believe you are doing enough? I think many of us feel we are not. Maybe we even have in our heads ideas of what we should be doing, but we have a hard time getting motivated. Maybe we are scared, or just stuck, or overwhelmed by the many options running through our heads or coming at us in email blasts and other social media. 

How do we find our own path? For it is our own path we must follow - the on-going process teshuvah is a very individual one, and that is what we are talking about - re-turning to G!d in a way that really alters our actions.

So I offer for you a meditation to help you solidify your understanding of your way forward to a more complete relationship with the Holy One of Blessing and the Earth.


Meditation for a Stronger and More Active Earth Connection

  • Step outside. 
  • Make yourself comfortable in a comfortable place. Give yourself a few minutes to settle in.
  • Relax your breathing. Breathe in deeply. Breath out, slowly exhaling. Repeat, using the breathy word Yah - G!d - the Breath of Life.
  • Now feel the Earth beneath your feet. Focus on the connection between your feet and the ground beneath. Feel your connection to Earth flowing up from below. Then feel the Earth's connection to you flowing downward from yourself.
  • Return to a few breaths of Yah.
  • Look upward at the sky. Feel your connection to the heavens - the Sun, the stars, the Moon. Focus on that connection. Allow the energy of your connection to the heavens to flow down from above. Then feel the sky's connection to you flowing upward from yourself.
  • Breathe deeply.
  • Close your eyes. Visualize your connection to beloved places, to important people in your life, to other living things. Allow their connection to you to flow inward to your heart. Allow your connection to them to flow outward in return.
  • Breathe deeply.
  • Use your own language and images. Feel a sense of gratitude. Ask G!d for strength and direction.
  • Hold the silence. Hold the stillness. Hold the strength. Let the answers come.
  • Breathe deeply.
  • When you are ready, open your eyes.
  • Feel yourself blessed and energized.
  • When you are ready, move onward to what is next.

You may wish to repeat this, to modify and make it your own. Perhaps you want to add words - or a word - of prayer. Play with it until you feel a new sense of resolve and strength and courage to move forward.

Remember that the Confession for the Earth ends with these words:"we are the ones we have been waiting for."

You can do it. I can do it. Together, we can do it. 

And we will. 


Rabbi Katy Z. Allen is the founder and leader of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope in Wayland, MA, and a staff chaplain at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. She is the co-convener of the Jewish Climate Action Network, a member of the Jewcology.org editorial board, a board member of Shomrei Bereishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth, and the co-creator of Gathering in Grief: The Israel / Gaza Conflict.

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