I am sharing writing from our ezine, the BeZINE, for the next little bit while I focus on healing and moving.
The theme for the BeZINE that released on October 15, 2016, was Rituals for Peace, Healing, and Unity. I was the guest editor for this issue. I offer to you a writing by my friend and colleague, Jamie Dedes:
This is a ritual for release that I wrote. I wonder what we could do to modify it to make it shorter or easier? Using our shower waters? Or even washing our hands? Also, this is in my Christian and inter-religious context. You could zip out the readings and put in readings that fit your personal context, I believe. Thoughts?
by Terri Stewart
Note: This is from my context, please release what you need to release and adapt as you see fit for your context.
Ritual for Release on the Sabbath Day
Social justice work can often seem to be very sad and disenchanting. You really do run into the worst of people. However, you also meet the best in people. Where they transcend what-is and move into what-shall-be. I find that Sabbath is necessary to sustain social justice work.
Sabbath from everything that I’ve learned is grounded in work-stoppage, rest, being in contrast to the prevailing economy, and holiness. Why do I say these things?
The recognition of Sabbath comes from the creation story in Hebrew scripture in Genesis. G*d does all this work creating the world and everything in it in six days. And on the seventh day, comes rest from creating. That is work-stoppage and rest!
The command to honor Sabbath comes down to the Israelites after they leave Egypt (the prevailing economy) and are called into a new life. So Sabbath life is in direct contrast to a productive life. Additionally, the commandments call for us to honor Sabbath and to make it holy. Not just rest, but honor and holiness. The roots of the word holiness include meanings like “to make whole” and “to heal.”
As I was ruminating about posting about Sabbath and all that it means to me to step outside of the prevailing production system, I thought, “I need a ritual that will help cleanse the seemingly endless supply of idiocy that comes my way.” And let’s face it, we all have an endless supply of idiocy that comes our way.
So here it is! Using the handy-dandy template from LaPadre.com (Deborah Globus):
- Declare sacred space
- State intentions
- Create an embodied ritual
Since this is a ritual for releasing angst and the need to solve social justice issues in order that Sabbath may truly be a place of being made whole, I think the sacred space should be in my home. Or yard. But definitely somewhere close by. I will do it in my back yard.
Things I needed to create the ritual:
- Pitcher of Water
- Towel <--very important!
- Yoga Mat (my yard is not great so I want the mat to sit on)
- Something to write my ritual onto (I used my handy dandy Surface)
- My favorite sacred poetry book: Women in Praise of the Sacred (all the readings except scripture readings are from this book)
- My favorite sacred text (Bible for me): The Voice
- My iPod to play my favorite meditative music:
Please use this is a guide to create your own meaningful ritual. I am choosing five readings-2 from Hebrew scripture and 3 from Women in Praise of the Sacred.
Breath in / Breath out – Breath Prayer – at least five times
On inhale name your idea of God or Ultimate Transcendence, on exhale name the results you desire
Example: Holiness / Bring Peace
First reading (A reading that speaks to the issue of how we treat other people. Excerpted from Exodus 22:21-27.)
21 Do not wrong or oppress any outsiders living among you, for there was a time when you lived as outsiders in the land of Egypt.
22 You must not take advantage of any widow or orphan. 23 If you do oppress them and they cry out to Me, I will certainly hear them, 24 and My wrath will be kindled.
25 If you loan money to any of the poor among My people, do not treat them as borrowers and act as their creditors by charging interest. 26 If your neighbor gives his coat to you as collateral, then be sure to give it back before night falls—even if he has not repaid you in full. 27 You see that coat covers his body and may be his only protection against the cold. What do you think he would sleep in? When he calls out for Me, I will hear his cry. I am kind and compassionate as you should be.
Confession: I have heard your cry to care for your people. All the people. At the same time that I cry out against injustice, I am aware that I am inextricably part of this system. I am both oppressor and oppressed. I give my heart up today so that I may be forgiven when I am too zealous and when I am not zealous enough. Please forgive me.
Second Reading (please substitute words as you see fit for your tradition, “The French Beguine,” 13th century, from The Soul Speaks):
Beguines who hear these words,
If life on earth
Makes you weep and complain,
Find your comfort in God:
Know that it is His will
That keeps you dwelling here below,
And the more your hearts burn with love—
As mine did, when I lived—
The more lovely to Him you will be.
It is the color in which He is clothed.
In this you will be like Him.
Prayer: I am here to rest in Gracious Love. Still my burning heart just for this day so that I may be refreshed, renewed, and restored.
Ritual Offering: Lift the bowl of water to the sky, let it carry the meaning of your heart. Connect yourself, grounding in the earth, through the bowl of water, through the air, to the flame in the sky—the sun. Take in all the elements supporting you and your breath.
Third Reading (by Mechtild of Magdeburg, 1207-1297ish, “How God Answers the Soul):
It is my nature that makes me love you often,
For I am love itself,
It is my longing that makes me love you intensely,
For I yearn to be loved from the heart.
It is my eternity that makes me love you long,
For I have no end.
Prayer: Let me be love, today and always. Let me unite with love, today and always. Let me walk with love, today and always.
Ritual Cleansing with Letting Go: Wash the waters over your face. Say a word of release for each washing:
Ignorance (wash water over face quickly and then flick the water off of your fingers)
Hatred (wash water over face quickly and then flick the water off of your fingers)
Disregard (wash water over face quickly and then flick the water off of your fingers)
Fourth Reading (excerpt from the Gnostic Gospel: Nag Hammadi Library, 2nd-4th c., from The Thunder: Perfect Mind) This reading reflects the dichotomy of being oppressor and oppressed:
For I am the first, and the last.
I am the honored one, and the scorned.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am the mother, the daughter,
And every part of both.
I am the barren one who has borne many sons.
I am the incomprehensible silence
And the memory that will not be forgotten.
I am the voice whose sound is everywhere
And the speech that appears in many forms.
I am the utterance of my own name.
I am knowledge and ignorance.
I am modesty and boldness.
I am shameless, I am ashamed.
I am strength and I am fear.
I am war and I am peace.
I am the one they call Life,
The one you call Death.
I am the one they call Law,
The one you call Lawless.
I am the one you have scattered,
And you have gathered me together.
I am godless, and I am the one
Whose God is great.
Ritual Cleansing with Letting In: Wash the waters over your face. Claim a word of life for each washing:
Love (wash and hold over your face for a moment)
Peace (wash and hold over your face for a moment)
Mercy (wash and hold over your face for a moment)
2 On the seventh day—with the canvas of the cosmos completed—God paused from labor and rested. 3 Thus God blessed day seven and made it special—an open time for pause and restoration, a sacred zone of Sabbath-keeping, because God rested from all the work done in creation that day. (Genesis 2:2-3)
Go now in peace to rest, rejuvenate, and be restored.
Amen. (So mote it be).
What would you release?
What would you hold onto?
How could you use a ritual like this? On a special Sabbath day or in daily life?
Today's practice brings music from Anilah, a poem from Wendell Berry, a sacred quote from Freddie Mercury, and a photo from Bill Strain. Along with readings from the Jewish and Christian lectionaries, the Qur'an, and the Buddhist tradition. And as always, we have our BIBOLOVE practice from Soyinka Rahim. (BIBO = Breathe In, Breathe Out). Our prayers for this week focus on Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.
Let my heart rise up to meet mercy, my voice to meet compassion, my hands to meet action.
BIBOLOVE: Breath In, Breath Out--yum
Medicine Chant by Anilah
I go from the woods into the cleared field:
A place no human made, a place unmade
By human greed, and to be made again.
Where centuries of leaves once built by dying
A deathless potency of light and stone
And mold of all that grew and fell, the timeless
Fell into time. The earth fled with the rain,
The growth of fifty thousand years undone
In a few careless seasons, stripped to rock
And clay— a “new land,” truly, that no race
Was ever native to, but hungry mice
And sparrows and the circling hawks, dry thorns
And thistles sent by generosity
Of new beginning.
No Eden, this was
A garden once, a good and perfect gift;
Its possible abundance stood in it
As it then stood. But now what it might be
Must be foreseen, darkly, through many lives—
Thousands of years to make it what it was,
Beginning now, in our few troubled days.
Berry, Wendell. This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems
Jewish Daily Reading: Daily Study from Chabad
Christian Daily Reading: Revised Common Lectionary Daily Reading
Muslim Daily Reading: Daily Verse from The Only Quran
Buddhist Daily Reading: Daily Zen
Please bring your own sacred readings to the daily pattern. If there is something else you'd like to see, let me know!
“Poetry is the Path on the Rainbow by which the soul climbs; it lays hold on the Friend of the Soul of Man. Such exalted states are held to be protective and curative. Medicine men sing for their patients, and, in times of war, wives gather around the Chief's woman and sing for the success of their warriors." ― Carl Sandburg, The Path on the Rainbow: An Anthology of Songs and Chants from the Indians of North America
Weekly prayer focus comes from the World Council of Churches prayer cycle. We know the world needs to be surrounded with prayer and positive thought. This allows us to work through the world country by country. We focus on one set of countries per week with the same prayer, lifting them up.
Focus countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal
Let us pray.
We know that we fail to live up to being makers of peace. Let us bring in rather than push out, be invitational rather than confrontational--seeing signs of life while decrying the desecration of hope.
For signs of hope and peace, we pray for
- The beauty of the mountains, rivers and forests.
- Those who work together to serve the poor.
- Those who offer assistance during the many floods in Bangladesh and to the victims of arsenic contamination of drinking water.
- Those who work for the rights of women and girls.
- Royal Bengal tigers, hoolock gibbons (singing apes) and myna birds.
- Misti dhohi (sweetened yogurt), green coconut water, mangoes, hot curry powder and rice.
For the oppressed and weary, we pray for
- A lessening of political unrest, violence and terrorism.
- Political leaders, that they will be guided by concern for all the people.
- Women, that they be respected and have dignity in their work.
- Children who must work to help feed their families, and girls who have been kidnapped or sold into the sex industry.
- Strength for those Christians who live as a minority amid Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu siblings.
- Those affected by frequent flooding, landslides, tropical storms and earthquakes.
- Those who live as refugees, especially the stateless Rohingyas and others or who are internally displaced, that they may to find shelter, food and a means to make a living
For those who suffer, are homeless, or are sick
For those we love, those we hate and those we are indifferent to
For the transformation from ME to WE
Let peace prevail on earth.
So may it be.
Translation by Neil Douglas Klotz, Sufi
O Birther! Creator of the Cosmos,
Focus your light within us— make it useful:
Create your reign of unity now-
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
from age to age it renews.
Truly— power to these statements—
may they be the ground from which all
my actions grow: Amen.