PRAYERS THAT WILL SPEAK TO YOUR HEART
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A Benediction from the Darkness
By Rabbi Beth Klafter
Eloheynu, v’elohey imoteynu, on this evening, especially, may we find paths out of Mitzrayim,
our own dark and the narrow places.
May we lift those who stumble and carry those who are weary among us.
May we shine a light for those whose spirits are heavy with darkness.
May the brightness illuminate our paths with wisdom, insight and strength.
Eloheynu, v’elohey imoteynu, with our mothers before us, may we march towards justice and liberation, towards redemption, renewal and repair.
Ken Yhi Ratzon.
By Rabbi Rachel Bearman
For months, years, decades, we have wandered with the weight of the darkness pressing on our shoulders.
We tried to tell our stories, to stand with siblings who were trying to tell theirs,
but our audience said they couldn’t see what we were showing them.
It was too dark to see, they said.
It was too much to comprehend, they said.
We were just seeing things in the darkness… imagining demons and ghosts in the shadows.
The only light we were afforded was gaslight.
But despite this cruelty, we continued walking.
Some discounted our strength, but we scoffed at their doubt.
We knew the truth.
We knew how much strength it takes to dance, and sing, and live, and be all while carrying the darkness.
And then, after working, and walking, and pushing, and demanding for months, and years, and decades we arrived at a field bathed in sunlight.
Our stories are visible now.
No one could claim they were unable to see.
The darkness was never ours.
It was a burden that we should have never been forced to carry.
And, the light was not given to us.
It was created by us.
We are the source of the light.
May we bask in the healing power of the light we have created.
May we help one another and hold one another as our stories are shared and the pain that we’ve carried is unleashed.
May we be the last generation of people to carry such devastating darkness.
May our lives be filled with light- on this day and for all our days.
Ken yehe ratzon. May this be God’s will and our will.
By Devon Spier
Hurting is normal.
Hurting is okay.
There is nothing wrong with who you are as a person when you’re hurting.
You do not have less value because you hurt.
You are remarkable when you hurt.
You are as inviting as a breath of fresh air while hurting.
And to be hurt in a world trying to tell you not to be makes you very, very brave.
And you are lovable when you’re hurting.
There are people who want to love you, who do love you when you hurt.
And we will shelter you with our love in a world of polarizing hurt and pain.
By Rabbi Rachel Bearman
I stand with my sisters.
I look to my left, and I see Dinah who has a knowing look in her eyes.
She understands better than anyone what happens when your trauma is transformed into the story of a man’s battle.
I look to my right, and I see Bilhah and Zilpah holding onto one another.
They know what it means for your body to be used as a paving stone in someone else’s journey.
Behind me stand my brothers.
I catch sight of Isaac the silent. He carries with him the grief of having been betrayed by the ones who are supposed to protect you.
Next to him is Joseph who still weeps whenever he sees colorful cloth because it reminds him of the moment when his youth and innocence were stolen from him.
Beyond our little group are the damp eyes and the broken hearts of thousands, millions, more.
Today and every day, I stand with my sisters, my brothers, my siblings of all genders.
Some of us know the pain of being hurt in the most intimate ways.
All of us love people who know that kind of pain.
None of us wants anyone else to have to experience it.
Today and every day, we stand together, clutching the broken pieces of our hearts and trying to move our massive group just a little bit closer toward that goal.
We’re so hungry for progress that every step forward feels like a celebration, and every slip backward brings feelings of devastation.
By Devon Spier
Our tribe contains tribes.
Tribes forged by circumstance and cemented by our own choosing.
Prophets who once bowed before idols.
And artists who rebuked even prophets.
Monarchs who kept guard over a land.
And a People made humble by the wilderness.
However you belong.
However you came to be.
Know that you, too, are numerous as the stars of heaven.
And that whether you are hard as rock, soft as psalms
Or even as mysterious as a basket in the bulrushes
Your arc reveals our covenant.
By Aurora Levins Morales
This time we’re tied at the ankles.
We cannot cross until we carry each other,
all of us refugees, all of us prophets.
No more taking turns on history’s wheel,
trying to collect old debts no-one can pay.
The sea will not open way.
This time that country
is what we promise each other,
our rage pressed cheek to cheek
until tears flood the space between,
until there are no enemies left,
because this time no one will be left to
and all of us must be chosen.
This time it’s all of us or none.
By Rachel Kann
Tell them that this is the great awakening.
Tell them that we humans
have made some huge mistakes
And that’s how we now
find ourselves in this tenuous place.
Teach them that hate is the poison.
Teach them that love is the remedy,
That it is better to be readied for what comes next,
Even if the revelation is painful.
Tell them that this is the paradigm shift,
That the old is collapsing in on itself,
That this death rattle is simply a temper tantrum;
The last gasp of a dying goliath.
Remind them of how they get wild
When they are most tired,
And then pass out,
That this is what it’s about,
That this is what is happening
to a decrepit and ineffective empire.
Tell them that everything is not ok,
And knowing that is ok.
Tell them that pretending
That what is unacceptable is fine
Is what got us to this sick and dysfunctional spot
on the timeline.
Apologize for any prior attempts to teach them denial.
Tell them you were blinded by desire
for comfortable numbness.
Express that you had the best of intentions,
That you were working within a broken system,
Where few benefitted at the expense of many,
That you laid low,
Kept to the status quo,
Obediently played your role,
But those days are over, because
Now you know better.
Tell them that they have no responsibility
To follow someone blindly based solely on a title.
Teach them to practice discernment.
Tell them authority and respect
Must be earned and are not inherently deserved.
Teach them that there are
From every background,
ethnicity and belief system,
That they must align themselves with kindness,
That there is no more time for divisiveness.
You tell them
that just because something is legal,
That doesn’t mean it’s right.
You tell them
To stand up and fight.
Remind them of all the lawful atrocities
Committed in the twisted history
Of this violent country:
That Rosa Parks righteously broke a law
and the world took notice,
That Harriet Tubman
is our modern-day Moses,
That women would not be allowed to vote,
And no one would have proposed another notion
If the blessed rebels hadn’t taken a stand.
Tell them love will win this war,
But only if we remember
That love is not just one unending cuddle puddle,
But fierce as a mother bear protecting her cubs.
Tell them that although this existence
is damaged beyond repair,
They must not despair,
There is possibility,
And we will willingly
and willfully open ourselves
to new ways of being because
the old way is not working,
Has never worked,
And the world deserves better,
And we’re worth it.
Tell them they are not free
While another suffers
Teach them that we are all limbs
on one body
and we cannot chop off our own arm
without deep suffering.
Teach them humility,
But also to re-learn to trust their intuition
And beg their forgiveness for unintentionally
misleading them previously.
Tell them their gifts are useful.
Tell them they are beautiful.
Tell them they are the truth.
By Rabbi Karyn Kedar
I suppose that the archaeologist
delights in brokenness.
Shards are proof of life.
Though a vessel, whole, but dusty
and rare, is also good.
I suppose that the archaeologist
does not agonize over the charred
lines of destruction signifying
a war, a conquest, a loss, a fire,
or a complete collapse.
The blackened layer
seared upon the balk
So why do I mourn,
Why do I weep
as I dig deeper
and deeper still?
buckets of rubble,
a fire or two,
of a life that
only to break again,
and deeper still,
shards upon shards,
layers upon layers.
If you look carefully,
the earth reveals its secrets.
So does the soul,
and the cell,
and the sinew,
and the thought,
and the wisp of memory,
and the laugh,
and the cry,
and the heart,
that seeks its deepest truth,
down to bedrock.
Rock bottom they call it,
and in Hebrew,
the Mother Rock.
God of grace,
that the layers
create a whole.