Autumn in Jerusalem

As I walked home I felt as if my feet weren’t touching the ground. The bright faces of the handicapped children were imprinted in my memory, and now I thought of each one of them, walking and singing, the nuns looking after them. I retained the light of the convent within me: its grace touched me, expanding an inner space, cheering unknown corners.

The Incident at Our Lady

I.

Phil had Sheila on the mind when he walked into one of the BOYS bathrooms at Our Lady of Peace Elementary in West Russelsburg. He’d started his shift as Second Security Officer at 6:00am, about an hour before most teachers get there, and about an hour and a half before the earliest kids get dropped off for the Before School Fitness Club, which was really just thirty minutes of kids running in circles on the field while one of the coaches watched, thirty minutes of free daycare and an earlier arrival at the office for the parents who didn’t care if they made their poor kids show up sweaty for the 8:00am Daily General Assembly. Phil had Sheila on the mind when, at about 9:00am, the school was quiet except in the classrooms and he’d walked down the quiet hallway in the main classroom building and walked into one of the BOYS bathrooms. He’d been thinking about her all morning, as usual, and he’d been thinking about their seventh date—set to happen that night—and the fact that he was now going by Phil instead of Phillip, all because on their first date, three weeks ago, she said in a nervous fast-talking first-date kind of jitters voice, Phillip? Phil? Is that you?

Connecting to God from Leonardo Boff

How to experience God today
Leonardo Boff
        Theologian-Philosopher
      Earthcharter Commission

The present present times are so politically afflicted that we are psychologically altered. Seeing no path forward, walking blind, adrift like a rudderless ship, extinguishes our spark to live.  We wind up forgetting what is essential.  

Those who read my last article, Can present day Brazil be fixed?, find the background there for this refection on God. In moments like this, without being pietistic, we turn towards the Fountain that has always nourished humanity. Especially in somber times of generalized crises, we feel a longing for God.

Not Another Dark Holocaust Poem (by Renna Ulvang)

Not Another Dark Holocaust Poem: Chava, Miriam, Auschwitz  
by Renna Ulvang

It is tempting to dredge up ashy metaphors for your last days on earth

To remain riveted, horrified, impaled by thoughts of what it must have been like

Torn away from the comfort of a beautiful room, in your beautiful clothes, your ordinary Jewish lives

Turning away from the gathering gray clouds; the rumors, the stricken faces, the sinking fears pulling you into a reality too dreadful to be faced

And then, too late;

for Chava, for Miriam, too late

 

But wait, here is where I stop being able to go with you, onto that train, towards the sorting desk: live or die,

The barracks, the showers, the endings. Instead I carry you in my arms into the present

Into my music, quilting, cooking, tikkuning, praying and I feel you here in the invisible connections

Great-aunts with large breasts, recipes, laughter, wisdom, sewing machines, struggles: loving life, loving me. I hold you here, in the only life I have, living it in memory of you.  

Renna Ulvang is a long time member of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue; a psychotherapist and certified spiritual director, companioning people in their search for connection to the Divine. (rennaulvang.com)

Notes on Spirituality

Cultivating a Spiritual Life
By Dave Hood

A man strolls through the woods, listening to the birds chirping, the rustling of the leaves, the river flowing in the background. A middle-aged woman takes photographs of her urban setting, and then creates expressive paintings. A young man takes up Buddhism, meditates, and strives to live a compassionate life. A young woman studying to become a social worker fights for social justice, attending a peace march. What does each of these people have in common?

Words of Devotion

Before the Door of God
Edited by Jay Hopler and Kimberly Johnson

The Sea Sleeps: New and Selected Poems
by Greg Miller

Once in the West
by Christian Wiman

Guide to Repentance and Transformation

Click here to download our 2015/5776 High Holidays Repentance Workbook and click here to download a PDF of the Al Cheyt Prayer. For the Ways We Have Missed the Mark and Gone Astray—Al Cheyt Prayer, Meditation, and Spur to Transformation

A Supplement to the High Holiday Prayer Book (not a replacement)

On Yom Kippur, we invite you to use the following supplement along with the traditional confessional prayer, Al Cheyt. Bring this supplement along with your own list to Yom Kippur services. Don’t just go through the rote reading the traditional “sins,” many of which actually reach to the ways we “miss the mark” in our contemporary reality. If you are not Jewish or aren’t attending any High Holiday service, use this supplement at your home or with your friends at any time during these ten days of repentance!

A Response to Gary Peller

The desire for mutual recognition is not an abstract universal, but a concrete universal manifested in all human situations as an expression of the very meaning of what it means to be a social human being.

Writing and Spirituality

Nobody Home: Writing, Buddhism, and Living in Places
Gary Snyder, in conversation with Julia Martin
Trinity University Press, 2014

Nobody Home presents three interviews conducted by South African scholar and writer Julia Martin with the poet Gary Snyder that take place from the late 1980s to 2010, along with a selection of letters between them covering the same period. Martin was a young academic in apartheid South Africa when she first reached out to Snyder, motivated by her critical work on his poetry and thinking. Martin’s study and practice of Buddhism and her intuitive grasp of Snyder’s importance as a forefather of a growing international movement of spiritual environmentalism provoked Snyder to respond with sympathy and encouragement. They had an instant rapport in letters, which led to the interviews. This is a great period for Snyder, as his thinking about the nondualism of self/no-self and its relation to the world and all phenomena is culminating in his concentration on finishing Mountains and Rivers Without End, one of the crowning works of his generation of poets.

A Scientific View of God

A God That Could Be Real: Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet

by Nancy Abrams

Beacon Press, 2015

Nancy Abrams needed a higher power. As one of the premiere science writers of our time, she found both the Iron Age gods of the Abrahamic faiths and the pseudo-scientific mysticisms of New Age gurus wanting. So she turned to what she knew best: science. What she found is set forth in her important, cogent, and challenging new book, A God That Could Be Real: Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet. This is not another book about the clash of science and religion.