Sophia… inner wisdom

let it be

“For many years I have had a file folder labeled “wisdom.” It began by my being intrigued with the wisdom literature of the Hebrew scriptures.  I found many verses that connect to my own story. In the poetry of those scriptures, Wisdom is referred to as “she,” a rather exceptional event in a strongly male-dominated world.  In many cultures of the past, including Egyptian, Babylonian and Chinese, wisdom was considered to be something very practical, a means of moral values as well as to right living which is given in maxims and proverbs.

In the Hebrew scriptures wisdom is also associated with guidance, but there is a wonderful addition: Wisdom becomes alive. Wisdom becomes a person, a “she.”  This feminine wisdom is presented as one who not only gives us direction for our lives but in intimately bonded with God. She is a breath of the Divine, born before creation; her origin contains great mystery.  She is given to humankind to connect them with the Divine.

Wisdom is a unique manifestation of God, a catalyst for transformation of the human person’s life into one of light and goodness…”   – Joyce Rupp

SOPHIA is the rise of the Divine Feminine in our nation’s consciousness and within our politics.  Let her be. 

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Sophia… inner wisdom

The Shema: Teaching Us to Listen in a World of Noise

shutterstock_229051390

https://sojo.net/articles/shema-teaching-us-listen-world-noise

Christians have a tendency to think that spiritual practices have to be difficult. “No pain, no gain” is a frequent mantra in the physical and spiritual realms. But if you are anything like me, you avoid pain like the plague! Jesus said that if you have enough faith, you can move mountains. That sounds like way too much work for me. I’d rather take a nap…

But what if spiritual practices don’t have to be difficult? For example, take an important spiritual practice in Judaism. It’s called the Shema. For thousands of years, Jews have been repeating the phrase at least twice a day, when they wake up and when they go to sleep. In reciting the Shema, many Jews have believed that they receive the kingdom of heaven.

The Shema goes like this,

Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord alone.

The word “shema” is the Hebrew means “to hear” or “to listen.” This daily Jewish spiritual practice is based simply on listening.

Listening shouldn’t be very difficult, but in a world filled with so much noise, taking the time to listen can be challenging. News networks, political debates, family conflicts — the “winner” is often the person who doesn’t listen, but instead yells the loudest.

Clearly, our culture is off balance. There is too much noise. We need to embrace Shema. We need to listen to the ancient Jewish spiritual practice of listening.

Importantly, the Shema was given to the Israelites after the Exodus from Egypt. It was in Egypt that the enslaved Israelites cried out in their pain and God heard their cry. God listened.

God was the first to practice the Shema, and models for us how to listen to the cry of the oppressed and the marginalized of human culture. In listening to their cry — in practicing the Shema — we become more like the God who listens to the cry of those who suffer.

A few days after the tragic shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., I was listening to NPR and was reminded about the importance of listening. They were interviewing a pastoral therapist from Roseburg.

The interviewer asked him a very important question, “You are a therapist. You’ve been trained to handle these kinds of traumatic situations. What can the rest of us do after events like the shooting at Umpqua Community College?”

The therapist replied with the ancient spiritual wisdom of the Shema. He said,

“I’m persuaded that the best counsel in times of trauma and tragedy is less speaking and more simply being present … You don’t have to be trained to listen and sometimes people just want to talk.”

Secular and religious therapists will all say the same thing — in times of suffering, people want to be heard when they cry out. We don’t have to worry about saying the right things or solving their problems. In fact, imposing our words and answers upon them often just gets in the way of their healing.

But the corollary to being heard is to talk — to talk about our emotions and our pain. This is where our culture has problems. We’re taught to not be a “burden” on others. Few of us want to admit to ourselves or to others that we have pain and that we are vulnerable. We’d much rather handle it ourselves, put on a tough exterior, and bury our pain deep within.

But that doesn’t lead to healing. Rather, it leads to more harm, as our bottled up emotions explode during times of stress. Controlling our emotions by bottling them up never works in the long term. When we us that method, we soon discover that we don’t control our emotions — our emotions control us.

The Shema calls us into a different way of life. It invites us to listen to the pain within ourselves and within our neighbors. In doing so, we find healing. And we find very presence of God.

– See more at: https://sojo.net/articles/shema-teaching-us-listen-world-noise#sthash.U0aA6SKb.dpuf

 

The Shema: Teaching Us to Listen in a World of Noise

Yom Kippur 2015

What Is Yom Kippur? 11 Quick Facts You Should Know About The 2015 Jewish Day Of Atonement

Yom Kippur begins Tuesday at sundown and lasts until dark the following day. It’s a time set aside in the Jewish calendar for atonement for one’s sins and reflection on the preceding year as well as the year ahead. It is considered one of the most important holidays, and many Jews who do not regularly observe other Jewish practices go to synagogue and fast on Yom Kippur. Here are some important facts about Yom Kippur:

1. Many believe one’s actions from the past year are sealed after Yom Kippur. The day is a time for repentance.

2. The 10 days that precede Yom Kippur are called the Days of Repentance. It’s a period of time meant for introspection.

3. Many Jews choose to follow a tradition of wearing white clothing on Yom Kippur, symbolizing purity and a Biblical promise that sins that are repented shall be made white as snow.

4. Many Jews fast a full 26 hours for Yom Kippur. Anyone who cannot safely fast — including pregnant women and children — are exempt.

5. Work is considered forbidden during Yom Kippur.

6. Many Jews refrain from washing or bathing, using cosmetics or deodorant, or wearing leather shoes. Sexual relations during Yom Kippur are not permitted, either.

7. Many observant Jews spend much of the holiday at the synagogue. Services include readings from the Torah.

8. Services close with the blowing of the shofar, a ritual musical instrument made of a ram’s horn.

9. Disobedience toward God requires repentance; atonement for one’s wrongdoing toward other human beings often requires apologies.

10. Some religious Jews wave a chicken over their head three times while reciting prayers, and then slaughter the chicken, donating the meat or its monetary worth to the poor.

11. Many families hold a festive meal with relatives and friends to break the fast.

http://www.ibtimes.com/what-yom-kippur-11-quick-facts-you-should-know-about-2015-jewish-day-atonement-2106694

 

Yom Kippur 2015

Muslim Prayer for Peace

“In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Praise be to the Lord of the Universe
who has created us and
made us into tribes and nations,
that we may know each other,
not that we may despise each other.
If the enemy incline towards peace,
do thou also incline towards peace,
and trust in God, for the Lord
is the one that heareth and knoweth all things.
And the servants of God, Most Gracious
are those who walk on the Earth in humility,
and when we address them,
we say “PEACE.” – A Muslim Prayer for Peace

This morning I received a post quoting passages from the the Islamic Koran referring to the violent crushing of enemies. I was told that Islam is a religion of violence.

I offer blessings of hope, compassion and forgiveness to the writer.

I know that I can open the Jewish and Christian Bible and search for similar passages beseeching the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob to take my side, seek revenge with me, send plagues or insects or even put terror into the hearts of my enemies. I can also tell the story of Jesus throwing a temper tantrum in the Temple of Jerusalem in the face of the money changers.

Today, I remind myself that using any religions’ sacred texts to justify my fear, ignorance or intolerance…is wrong.

I recommit to coexistence. Blessings! Shalom! Namaste!

Muslim Prayer for Peace

An Ancient Prayer for Forgiveness

The Jewish King David (1040 BC-970 AD) was a well respected political and religious leader. The second king of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah, he ruled successfully for 40 years although he was at war defending his nation during most of those years. It’s believed he was an ancestor of Jesus of Nazareth. He was also a prolific writer and poet and many of his works are included in the Bible. (Think: The Book of Psalms).

I’ve been fascinated by David for years. It seems he was a very passionate guy. This king-warrior-poet-Biblical key character killed Goliath when he was just a kid and then grew up to lead Israel to victory again and again; a religious powerhouse for sure.

But David was also a bad boy. He literally stole the wife of one of his most loyal and honored soldiers, got her pregnant and then to cover his tracks, arranged to have the guy murdered. But once this crime was exposed by the Prophet Nathan, David turned to God.
His prayer asking for forgiveness is recorded in the Bible as Psalm 51.

I like Psalm 51 because its old and its real. It reminds me that people have been making mistakes forever… and people have been trying to change their ways for just as long.

Here’s a paraphrase by me that I’ve been told has been helpful:

“God, help me!
I have screwed up big time.
Forgive me. Take away my sins. Have mercy on me.
Be compassionate and pardon me.
Please, help me!
Wash me clean of my mistakes so I can release my guilt.
I know what I did. My sins are always on my mind.
I have done evil.
I admit my shameful thoughts, words and deeds.
They haunt me day and night.
I have sinned against you but I also know I have sinned against myself.
I am your creation.
I know you know what I’ve done.
I want forgiveness. I want to clean up my act. I want to change.
Clean thoughts, clean feelings, clean living.
I need to forgive myself.
Don’t throw me away. Please, don’t leave me alone.
I need and want peace of mind so I can be happy.
Help me fix my brokenness.
I release my guilt and shame and troubles.”
*Psalm 51

We’ve all sinned. We all need forgiveness.
If something is in the way of your Sacred or yourself, try this ancient prayer.

Do you need forgiveness?

I welcome your feedback and suggestions.

An Ancient Prayer for Forgiveness