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Spiritual Vaccines

Spiritual Vaccine #6 - Little Kids

Please do not read this aloud or listen to the recording if your young kids are in earshot.  Love, Rabbi Scott

The world is a scary place.  I can only imagine what it might feel like to tell your child that the park and other kids and the playground aren’t safe.  Not because of what mean kids or adults might do, or the broken bone you could get from falling or hitting your head, but because of the invisible monsters that can attack when you least expect. But oh by the way, don’t worry, its almost for sure that you won’t get sick.  But you could make your mom and dad or grandma and grandpa sick.  A child’s mind is the habitat of the invisible and their imaginations are the grandest pallets ever invented.  So be careful what you say and what you listen to or watch when they’re around.  They’re only ever just a few frames shy of completing a comic strip in which they can become anything they imagine.

“Little Kids”

By Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss

We used to have little kids

Who fussed and mussed and made a mess

Who cried and whined and didn’t know how to dress

They laughed and they giggled, sang and played pretend.

And I remember when I’d return from work and they’d make a bee line for the door.

“Daddy’s home!” 

I would enter and they’d want to play but my wife wanted me to help

And so I’d beg all their leave for a moment to don my “OK clothes.”

“Ok, I would say, I’m here to play”

And help is what I did!

But also played, played a ton

With our two little boys

Who for a few short years, would believe I created the sun.

It was so exciting (and challenging and frustrating and rewarding) but often exciting

Because they were “first-timers”

First time to walk and to run

First time to hit a ball and swim in the sun

First time to burn themselves on a stove

First time to fall on rocks in a cove

First time to hold hands and first time to wash them

And the many first times it took for them to admit that they hadn’t

Rookies, they were, at life so grand

I can remember the moments when they each took their first stand

On an issue they believed in, so hard and so fast

Insisting, just like they’d seen their old man try to last

But of course, they also saw him fall and offer “I’m sorry”

I didn’t see, I couldn’t hear, I hadn’t listened to the whole story

Our little kids grew into versions of the men

They’re still growing to be, I ask sometimes, “Exactly when?”

But so proud of them we are

The little kids who they were emerge at certain times

When they’re scared or ashamed or fearful of what may come

It's easy to forget that the concerns of adults

Are the least of their worries, they yet have quite a few more layers to molt

That I forget that the lives of these little kids so dear

Keep happening to young children, year to year

And right now, there are folks who are raising those little ones

In a world scarier than any of the ones I imagined

So don’t forget that your little ones are the most vulnerable of us all

They don’t have calendars, or plans, or retirements, what a ball!

But they do have powerful little imaginations, it's how their brains work

Protect them from exposure to the far too many ways we adults act like jerks

We should act as if we are guests in a children’s world, at least at times

A rule of thumb I too often forget but remember as the wind chimes.

 

Spiritual Vaccine #5 - Gate A-4

"Gate A-4" By Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there. An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her . What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.” I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly.

“Shu-dow-a, shu-bid-uck, habibti? Stani schway, min fadlick, shu-bit-se-wee?”  The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late, who is picking you up? Let’s call him.” We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours. She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life, patting my knee, answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies— little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts— from her bag and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single traveler declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the lovely woman from Laredo— we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie. Then the airline broke out free apple juice and two little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they were covered with powdered sugar too. And I noticed my new best friend— by now we were holding hands— had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere. And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that gate— once the crying of confusion stopped— seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too. This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

Spiritual Vaccine #4  Timing is Only One Thing

Spiritual Vaccine #3 - What Can I Do?

I feel alone God

Please infuse my spirit with the strength to seek out another who is as well.

I feel confused God

Please inspire my humility to accept that it isn’t only me.

I feel deflated God

Please help me find my breath again such that I can breathe hope into someone else.

I feel blessed God

Please strengthen my efforts and belief that when I share my blessings, they only grow in response.

I am alone

At times loneliness is what I feel

Wondering who is thinking of me

On whose mind do I dwell?

But then I ask myself, who dwells upon mine?

And what can I do for them?

 

The willingness to try to walk in the shoes of another

And to ask ourselves, “How might this feel?”

Is the real gift of being created b’tzelem Elohim, in God’s image

The poetry of Torah reminds us that each of us is made from the same mold

Anyone who has ever felt happiness can imagine that of someone else

Anyone who has ever felt pain can imagine this too

Will we get it exactly?  What it means to feel as someone else does?

No of course not, but this should not belie that we CAN always imagine what someone else is enduring

To say otherwise is to cut ourselves off from being human

From being fragile and imperfect

Like the Leonard Cohen song reminds – the cracks are the ways the light gets in.

Spiritual Vaccine #2 ...a "Two-Step" for Dancing Your Way Into the Day

Step 1:

Read and reflect on these beautiful and poetic and prayerful words.

 

A Prayer of Hope During this Pandemic

by Rabbi Naomi Levy

 

We are frightened, God,

Worried for our loved ones,

Worried for our world.

Helpless and confused,

We turn to You

Seeking comfort, faith and hope.

 

Teach us God, to turn our panic into patience,

And our fear into acts of kindness and support.

Our strong must watch out for our weak,

Our young must take care of our old.

Help each one of us to do our part to halt the spread of this virus

 

Send strength and courage to the doctors and nurses

In the front lines of this battle,

Fortify them with the full force of their healing powers.

Send wisdom and insight to the scientists

Working day and night across the world to discover healing treatments.

Bless their efforts, God.

Fill our leaders with the wisdom and the courage

To choose wisely and act quickly.

Help us, God, to see that we are one world,

One people

Who will rise above this pandemic together.

 

Send us health God,

Watch over us,

Grace us with Your love,

Bless us with Your healing light.

Hear us God,

Heal us God,

Amen.

Step 2:

Click here to listen to our wonderful cantorial soloist, Hannah Madeleine Goodman, who has very lovingly recorded for all of us the Mi Shebeirach prayer. When the news, the worries and concerns overwhelm you, find a quiet spot, breathe into this moment, flood yourself with images of beauty and joy, and then let this recording wash over you.

Spiritual Vaccine #1  ... Prayer Isn't Magic 

Prayer isn’t magic

No, it’s something far more impressive

It’s the medicine we can take without a script

But rooted in script for generations gone by

Prayer is the balm

that doesn’t smooth over our roughness

No, it just embraces it,

making life a bit more gently rode.

Prayer is most definitely not perfect

But certainly not either is life

It recirculates and generates energy back to itself

Back to its source, of which We are its center

Its times like these when prayer

Can offer a hint of the divine

A moment that might actually make us blush

As the good Dr. H alludes

Prayer is, each day of the week,

A letter unto the Creator

Making us ever mindful that we are

So much a little part of the

biggest number of them all

Infinitely, our lives dwell in a mystery

despite our insistence to the contrary.

 

Sat, March 28 2020 3 Nisan 5780