Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Night Sky Poems

by Judith Felsen, Ph.D.

Heavenly Waltz

Last night the heavens shimmered as
You arrived to dance with us.
Your constellations’ twinkling drapes
chandeliers of light
made divine synchrony,
Your choreography emerging 
from the stars.
Celestial joy embraced us
in exuberance for life
as we rejoiced light footed, 
ecstatic dancers
mortal and eternal
shedding and creating
Your waltzing sparks of light divine.

Modest Moon

Tonight Your moon appeared behind
a dusty mask of clouds
veiled in modesty, 
not to mesmerize her gazers.
Midway to fullness
both her glow and essence 
took command of sky and stars,
her dusky radiance dominant.
Received through moonbeams 
palpable  and seen,
an ancient memory reveals
her undefeated lunar journey.
Witnessed, monthly she departs
and then appears
in triumph, dark or crescent
carrying Your light to night.
Concealed, her lunar power
humbly showers earth
with promise You are here.
We  are moonlit watchers of Your will
engaged for centuries 
with  ancestry,
in awe of luminary’s rays 
sacred and divine 
Your modest moon. 

Full Moon

Majestically she bares herself
fulfillment of a fortnight’s 
prayers and dreams.
Our merit and mistakes,
she holds in radiance
a lunar record of our journeys here.
Within a corridor 
of clouds and stars 
her body rises to remind us
of commitments made
at new moon’s darkened skies.
Completion of her cycle
records time to celebrate 
review, and recreate 
our purpose here, 
a data base of contracts 
with our souls.
Lunar mentor overhead,
unfailing in her mission,
she guides our fortnight’s passage
as we move daily/nightly 
coming home.

New Moon

Suspended in a darkened sky
behind earth’s  shadowed curtain
new moon holds a template 
for a prophecy 
of  weeks to come.
Blackness of the night
invites projection of  desire,
casting will and need
into the heavens.
This night in darkness 
we are seeding destiny,
responsible for harvesting fruition.
New moon holds invitation.
We are the guests expected,
bearing sin and virtue,
wants and gifts
in forging days to come.
Tonight in darkness 
our intentions cast a blessing,
fortnight’s wishes now embedded 
in the moonless sky.
New moon holds each prayer, 
a wish divine dictated 
dormant in the darkest night 
awakening to manifest tomorrow,
new moon gone to crescent light.

Longest Night

Waste not this longest night,
instead embrace these darkened hours
to know of grace in shadow.
Reflect in weakened light
the presence of the strength
which blackness brings, 
the midwife of all light eternal.
Kindle inner wicks which bond
with flames of heaven,
blazing sparks to soar divine
transforming pain to glory.
In darkness are these lights revealed
intrinsic gems of wisdom
brilliant specks in dark descended.
Be with night’s longest undercover
become  G-d’s radiance divine this longest night.

© Judith Felsen, Ph.D.
Judith Felsen holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, certificates in hypnotherapy, NLP, Eriksonian Hypnosis, and Sacred Plant Medicine. She is a poetess, consultant, creator of collaborative integrative programs involving  nature, Judaism and the arts,  daily student of Torah, sacred texts and various teachers particularly the Baal Shem Tov and Chassidus, sacred circle dancer and an avid kitchen worker. She enjoys sharing studies, all of the outdoors, the garden, harvesting, prepping ,walking, hiking, running, meditating and conversing with the earth. She serves on the board of the Bethlehem Hebrew Congregation, Neskaya Center for Movement Arts, and the Mount Washington Valley Chavurah.  She lives in the White Mountains with her husband, two large dogs and thenative community of the surrounding forest.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Lighting Our Way to Greater Sustainability: Meditations for Lighting the Hanukkiah

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

To kindle the Hanukkah lights, we need the shamash, the helper candle, with which we light all the other candles. The role of the shamash is vital, enabling as it does the proliferation of physical and spiritual light we experience on Hanukkah. Through the following kavannot, or meditations, the shamash can also help us make connections to the Earth within the context of Hanukkah and give us the strength we need to take action. Each meditation is connected to both a prayer or text from Jewish tradition and one or more of the Dragons of Inaction, spiritual and psychological barriers that prevent us from taking the actions we must take if we want to help preserve a climate suitable for life.

For Lighting the Shamash Each Night:

As I light this shamash, may the light I behold help me to see more clearly and more deeply into my heart and soul and into the world beyond me. May the light of this candle remind me to connect to the Earth, Jewish tradition, family, and community in ways that give me spiritual, physical, and psychological healing and strength. May the light of the shamash renew my will to learn more about climate change and Judaism, the connections between the two, and potential personal and communal actions.

First Night
May the light of this candle inspire me to reduce the carbon footprint of my energy usage by buying my electricity from renewable resources; putting solar panels on my roof; and installing a heat pump. May I find the strength to overcome the dragon of concern about the financial risk of any investment required. May I hear a voice within me telling me to be “strong and of good courage.” (Deuteronomy 31:7)

Second Night
May the light of these candles motivate me to move closer to a plant-based diet by reducing the amount of meat I eat and cutting down on dairy products. May my journey through diet change not be thwarted by the dragon of my desire to justify my comfortable climate-negative lifestyle. With each bite of food I take, may I understand that “the Earth belongs to the Holy One, and everything in it.” (Psalm 24:1)

Third Night
May the light of these candles bring me the strength to reduce my transportation carbon footprint by walking, bicycling, and carpooling more, taking public transportation more often, getting rid of one or more cars, flying less, and/or buying an electric car. May I not allow the dragon of perceived inequity, my desire not to be taken advantage of, and my belief that others may not reduce their carbon footprint to prevent me from taking these actions. May I remember that my actions have consequences and follow the path of goodness and sacred connection. (Second paragraph of the Shema, Deuteronomy 11:13-21 and other passages)

Fourth Night
May the light of these candles move me to divest all my financial holdings from fossil fuel companies and reinvest them in renewable energy. May the dragon of my lack of knowledge of how and where to reinvest my funds not prevent me from making this shift. May I take to heart the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding that are continually bestowed upon me every day. (Daily Amidah)

Fifth Night
May the light of these candles prompt me to write, call, and visit my state and local representatives and urge them to support clean energy and carbon pricing bills, not once, but again and again. May I not get bogged down by the dragon of belief that my voice doesn't matter and that nothing will result from my actions. May I understand in my heart that one who can prevent her household, city, or the whole world from committing a sin and doesn't do it is responsible for their sins. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 54b)

Sixth Night
May the light of these candles convince me to care for my property in a way that will produce more food and sequester more carbon. And if I do not own any land, may I search out a place within my community where I can act upon this matter. May the dragons of worrying that everything I do will take too much time and feel meaningless not cause me to hesitate and refrain from acting. May I remember that my human role on this planet is “to till and to tend” or “to serve and protect” the Earth. (Genesis 2:15)

Seventh Night
May the light of these candles propel me to reduce the amount of water I use and the amount of waste I produce by composting, recycling, reusing, buying only what I truly need, installing a rain barrel, and reducing indoor and outdoor water use. May I not stagnate in my climate activism journey due to the dragon of believing that the easiest actions are the only ones I need to take. May I remember that G!d “gives strength to the weary” each and every day. (Morning Blessings)

Eighth Night
May the light of these candles inspire me to regularly support eco-justice efforts by giving tzedakah and advocating in my local and state governments. May I not allow the dragon of concern about the importance of my efforts to prevent me from acting. May I remember that my actions impact the lives of vulnerable populations now and in the future, and that one who saves a single life, it is as though he has saved the entire world. (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a)

Chag Urim Sameach - Happy Festival of Lights,
Rabbi Katy

Rabbi Katy Allen is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long, and the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network. She is a board certified chaplain and serves as an Eco-Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spiritand is a former hospital and hospice chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY in 2005 and lives in Wayland, MA, with her spouse, Gabi Mezger, who leads the singing at Ma'yan Tikvah.