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PREPENT DAY 27+28: Look up, Light a Candle, Plant a huge and shining flower in a blind and narrow heart

PREPENT DAY 27+28

Elul 27-28 5775  – September 11+12 2015

NYC

“How can the Sabbath

plant a huge and shining flower

in a blind and narrow heart?

Zelda, ‘Light a Candle’

I missed the double rainbow that stretched over Manhattan yesterday, seen, at least from one perspective, coming out of the spot where, on the day before this day, the twins became ground zero.

I was on Broadway and 96th street trying to get a bus or a taxi mid rain on way to school, busy with my phone and rush and not looking at the rain or looking for rainbows. A reminder to look up and around, being more mindful and aware of little and big wows around me that too often I auto-pilot or sleep-walk through to notice.  Today is an appropriate day to pause and notice all that’s worthy of a wow. Every wow, we’d rather not remember but perhaps sometimes we ought to, can be one of our last.

Whoever came up with that story about the rainbow coming after the flood knew deep truth about human anxiety and of our yearning for colorful winks at echo our grandest hopes that some symmetry  exists within the mystery. That somehow there are patterns and some order and ‘intelligent design’ mixed in with the evolutionary Chaos. Or maybe not, but still, a natural reminder  to look up and far beyond what meets our I. 

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I can’t make claims for silver linings, or how suffering and pain elicits greater growth on many levels, seen and logical or not. But this rainbow reminded me of my 9/11 defining moment, standing on Fifth Ave. and 10th St. looking south as the second tower came down. It was defining because in that utter horror I felt for one of the only times in my life, the presence of reality far greater and transcendent than anything my human self could truly fathom.

In the moments following the tower crashing there was silence, terror, awe.

I felt it then – I knew it fully: This was  a man-made murder mission but its mythic, so much larger than life or death essence loomed and still does for many – larger than a human scope. It does not all have to make sense. 

The impact of this day 14 years ago still resonates worldwide today. A total global game changer. 

Now there is a bright new tower growing where the others fell. My children only know this one and know no prior truth. This too is humbling.

Thus on this day, Prepent 27, the eve of the last Sabbath of this year, the anniversary of 9/11, the Yahrzeit of my grandfather Hugo Lunzer, may he and all of them rest in peace, I pause to honor mystery, with humility, remembering all those who are no longer living, whether I knew them or not.

An act as simple as lighting a candle can be a radical ritual of acceptance, respect, remembrance and focus on the present, on what is.

A year ago, in the midst of fighting in Gaza,  a Muslim and a Jewish spiritual leader, two great women living in Israel, wrote a prayer for lighting another candle on Friday evenings, holy days to both religions, with the intention of increasing the light of peace in the world.

We have prayed The Mothers’ Prayer for Peace on almost every Friday and holiday this past year, lighting candles to take on the darkness, to look up from our screens and work life, to be part of the power of change for good, to be part of a reality so much greater than us all.

This evening: Light a candle. Slowly, with intention. Take your time to feel the wick become a flame, and pause to stare into its inner rainbow for as long as you can. Make a wish and let the candle linger. Honor all that is.

“Light a candle,

drink wine.

Softly the Sabbath has plucked

the sinking sun.

Slowly the Sabbath descends,

the rose of heaven in her hand…

Can the rose of immortality grow

in a generation enslaved

to destruction,

a generation enslaved

to death?

Light a candle!

Drink wine!

Slowly the Sabbath descends

and in her hand the flower,

and in her hand

the sinking sun.”

 

Regarding the rose: As it is the last Shabbat of 5775: How about you go get someone some flowers? Just for fun and with love, for shabbat and for the new year? 

For me, flowers on Fridays are a must. Whether I’m at home and replenish the flowers on my desk, and/or hosted by others, or send them to my mother or other, honoring the Queen Shabbat – it’s a way of looking up from busy and seeing the rainbows of so much more. 

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Sabbath is bit of Paradise, an embassy of Eden, right at your home. We be, not do, unplug, refrain from working, dress like royals, feast, rest. The table is set with the finest and fresh flowers.

That was always my task.

As a child in Israel, I’d go out on Friday afternoons to the fields and gardens in our neighborhood to pick  flowers for the Sabbath table centerpiece. Those precious pre sunset hours, alone in the field, like Isaac, picking flowers for the queen of time taught me how to love the soil, know nature, be grateful for the bounty, inhale deeply the aroma of the land, the baking challah, one with creation, humble in the larger scheme of themes, another flower in the great and sacred bouquet called life.

unnamed-1Light a candle!

Drink wine!

Slowly the Sabbath descends

and in her hand the flower,

and in her hand

the sinking sun.

 

 

Shabbat Shalom.

~ Amichai

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