Tag Archives: High Holy Days

BACK AND FORTH

Sooooo – the weekend started out like this on Friday morning: there was a snake languishing and being quite chill beside my bedroom door. With my eyes adjusting to the new light of day, and my bare feet just inches away from his head  —- what can I say? Some weekends are just like that. A little snake. A lab girl with two sores on her ears and a limp when she walks. A kitty that jumps on my stomach on a lazy Saturday morning to wake me up. My daughter’s old dog crossing the rainbow bridge. Curtains to hang. Furniture to move – a few times – and then a few times more. And, thankfully, many times when I get to go outside, sit on the swing, close my eyes and sing – – back and forth – – back and forth – –

“Sing God a simple song
Lauda, Laudē”

Writing hasn’t been a high priority the past couple weeks. Lesson planning. Glancing at e-mails. Cruising through FB. Sharing a bit of e-mail wisdom and then – read and read some more. Books piled on every table/desk. Stumbling my way through books on how to deal with chaotic storms that threaten to engulf a seemingly “normal” life. Reading and re-reading passages of prophecy or Biblical history. On-line reading on Jewish/Christian traditions. Head buried in oh so many, many books until the arthritic neck begins to ache more than I wish, and I reach for my essential oils once again..

Human wisdom.
Our Father’s wisdom.
Jewish wisdom.
Simple wisdom.
Swinging back and forth – – back and forth – –

Since it has been a few years since I read in-depth on Jewish traditions, I’ve been listening to podcasts and re-educating myself about the awe of the Jewish High Holy Days. Did you know that some Jewish theorists believe that time is a spiral? I’m still working on that in my head, but I do find it fascinating when I sit on my swing and swinging – back and forth – back and forth. Where is my spiraling tree swing when I need it?

Thinking about the 6th Day of Creation.
Thinking about how that is celebrated in Rosh Hashanah.
Thinking about the trumpet blowing: past – present – future.
Thinking about looking back at what was.
Thinking about the only Biblical recorded celebration of Rosh Hashanah in Nemiah.
Thinking about acknowledging my role in the past year(s)’s journey – good and bad.
Thinking about Yom Kippur.
Thinking about judgement and filling my lamp with oil.
Life – –
Joy – –
Song.

My thoughts tracing the tradition of the Jews…the tradition of the mass…the tradition of humans trying to find their way between the two gardens and back to the Father. A Father who walked with them in the first garden and waits to walk with them in the last one. A little snake that I almost stepped on in the dark. Things that I love. Things that make me cry. An old dog that now plays with her best friend in heaven. Things that make me laugh out loud. Things that I want to accomplish. Thinks that I have been thinking this weekend as I swing – back and forth – back and forth.

“Lauda, Lauda, Laudē
Lauda, Lauda di da di day…
All of my days.”~Bernstein’s Mass: Simple Song.

“The entire people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the scroll of the Teaching of Moses with which the LORD had charged Israel. On the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the Teaching before the congregation, men and women and all who could listen with understanding. He read from it, facing the square before the Water Gate, from the first light until midday, to the men and the women and those who could understand; the ears of all the people were given to the scroll of the Teaching. Ezra the scribe stood upon a wooden tower made for the purpose, and beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah at his right, and at his left Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, Meshullam. Ezra opened the scroll in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people; as he opened it, all the people stood up. Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” with hands upraised. Then they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the LORD with their faces to the ground. Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites explained the Teaching to the people, while the people stood in their places. They read from the scroll of the Teaching of God, translating it and giving the sense; so they understood the reading.”~Neh 8:1-8 

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RAINDROPS KEEP FALLIN’

“Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head…”

It has been a weekend of dark, dreary and rainy days. Yet, our big, old bag of wind Florence only brought us a few gusts of wind and about 6 inches according to our rain gauges. Then again, since some of those gusts have kind of blown the rain sideways, some of the rain might have missed those gauges entirely.

Hard to feel excited on dreary days. ‘Blue days’ as my mom used to call them. Got to admit, I’ve wasted most of the past couple days. Could have pulled out the crochet needles – could have read more of my books – could have gone on more walks (between the raindrops) – – – could have done a lot of things.

I just didn’t.

I did do several cryptograms, jigsaw puzzles, on-line word games, baked cookies, read some devotions on-line and off, watched several of my favorite ministers, made a big batch of spaghetti, watched some of my favorite movies, and kinda meandered here there, doing miscellaneous chores that I wanted to accomplish just in case the electric went out. But all-in-all – – – nada, zilch, nothing that contributed anything to anyone – anywhere.

“But there’s one thing I know
The blues they send to meet me
Won’t defeat me
It won’t be long ’till happiness steps up to greet me…”~”Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”

I really don’t like looking back over my weekend and seeing how much time so easily slipped past me. I did, indeed, let the “blues defeat me”. However, God is good. He opened the eyes of my heart today. I walked the dogs and really listened as I avoided the worst of the slippery red, clay. After all that is what the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is all about. Holy Days. 
Time to reflect, 
to repent, 
to listen, and… 
to change.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you….”~Ps 32:8

Those raindrops keep falling tonight, and I think we have added another inch just since I started writing. Flood and tornado watches are up. The dogs stick their heads out the door and give Spooky-Shadow-Sparkle a dirty look because no one makes her go outside in the rain. So – I think it is time to stretch my knees and start to make my way back to my quiet room. Read a book, listen to some harp music and plan the many things I want to accomplish tomorrow. The Grands are coming for the morning, so lets start there.

“Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”~Ps 32:11

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GET WISDOM

Sunshine + rain + some kind of high pressure that is pushing 
that old bag of wind Florence further South = humidity overload to the nth degree.

The head hurts.

It has been a humid summer. Even most native North Carolinians have wiped their brow a few times. Today was no different until about 6:00 when the girls and I stuck our nose outside. The humidity had dropped (a little). Enough that we decided to take our rambling walk down the hill to the neighbors.

I love these walks because the girls are happily exploring, sniffing out new aromas, chasing random squirrels that drop out of a tree, and eventually – checking back in on me. As for me, it is the quiet of the neighborhood and my time to try to listen a little harder to my Father. I have this tendency to talk or think too much. Getting outside – whether walking or sitting on our swing – is my quiet time. Which – believe it or not – is really hard for me.

“The beginning of wisdom is: get wisdom.”~Prov 4:7

As much as I like being by myself, I am not a quiet person. I talk to myself. I write stories in my head, Songs may interrupt me at any time. I tend to have this running commentary going on in my head at all times. Meditation is extremely SO hard. If I am quiet – I’m generally asleep within 5 minutes. So listening to God is hard – – – really, really hard.

So today as the sun was setting, I was doing my best to listen and suddenly, last night’s dream popped into my mind. I remembered I was dreaming in French. Now you have to understand that I hated learning French and don’t really remember much. But I understood everything last night – even the song that was being sung by a bunch of dancers in white – except for one. That one had a copper skirt that only showed when she kicked her feet up in the air.

I figured my mind was getting me off track again, so I prayed a little on some prayer requests circling around and tried to still my mind again. By that time, I found a rock that had moss growing on it, and I had to take a picture of it, right? Then the dogs were under foot and smiling at me, so I had to stop and talk to them. Do you see why being quiet is so hard for me?

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the Light of Your presence, LORD.”~Ps 89:15

I tried a couple more times before I finally just smiled up at my Father, shrugged my shoulders, and asked for His forgiveness for not being a good listener, and I swear I could almost hear Him laugh and I was thankful.

Earlier today, I was reading about the shofar blasts that are used during High Holy Days. There is one blast that is a series of 9 notes. The word for it is “teruah”. It is also the original Hebrew word that is used in Ps 89:15. It is usually translated as “to acclaim” in English. Jewish wisdom looks at it slightly different. They say, “Blessed are those who know the secret of the sofar blast…”

Can you keep a secret?

The first shofar was created after God showed His grace, His mercy and His love to Abraham and Issac by providing a sacrifice. Thus, to hear a shofar is always a reminder of His mercy – His grace – His love to all people. A reminder that when we, as a people blow our horn and are able to accept responsibility for our foolishness – our sins – all on our own, God doesn’t have to correct our behavior for us. Instead, He can blow His grace, His mercy and His love over us and smile.

Starting the 4th day of the High Holy Days – a little wiser and a whole lot more thankful that My Father certainly knows and loves my heart and hopefully, as I grow a little wiser, my heart will be a little more like His. 

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”~Matt 5:8

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17 YEARS

For 17 years, I have worn this one shirt. It is a simple white shirt with an American flag, a bald eagle, the date, 9/11/2001 and one word written in red: UNITED.

Shortly after the attack, one of the teachers I worked with created this shirt for the staff. We wore it quite often that first year, but for the most of the past 17 years, it has just sat in my drawer and waits for that date to arrive.

“Remember your people, whom you chose for yourself long ago, whom you brought out of slavery to be your own tribe. Remember Mount Zion, where once you lived.”~Ps 74:2

We don’t forget where we were on days that change our lives. A father’s first heart attack – or second – or third. The death of JFK – of MLK – of RFK. Graduations. Watching a man walk on the moon. Resignation of a President. First loves – last loves. Death of a parent…parents. Birth of a child – from the heart or from the body……… 9-11-2001.

And somehow – in all of images that superimpose themselves one on top of another – I think of the Bible. If my finite, limited, mortal body puts such emphasis on memorable days, would not a loving Father do this as well – especially since He created us in His own image?

God’s memories of a stiff-necked, stubborn people – one group out of many that walked this earth – written then simplified enough for us to read, speaking in glorious metaphors of his love through each superimposed image – one on top of another. From one fateful decision by one couple under a tree, to a Son choosing to lay down His life on another tree, to the gates of the garden of trees being unlocked, and the return of our King on a white horse to throw those gates wide open.

“I’ve walked among the shadows
You wiped my tears away
And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak
And I’ve seen the brighter days
And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowest place
And I have held the blessings
God, you give and take away”

The hills and valleys of this life frame our journey. We mark our time by them and – hopefully – grow in wisdom and thankfulness to the One who carved them both. Journeys are never easy. Our emotions rage from one extreme to another. And yet – the blessings of hidden bread and water await us at just the right moments – at just the precise time we need nourishment – at the perfect place in the journey so that we can continue forward.

“No matter what I have, Your grace is enough
No matter where I am, I’m standing in Your love.”

There is a song, that my youngest son drew my attention to a few months back. He may be many miles away, and we may not speak often, but he knows his mama’s heart so well. So today as I prepared a little more for that old, bag of wind Florence to hit town, I heard this song twice. It especially spoke to my heart on a day when bittersweet memories were stuck in a repetitive play, and I felt Our Father’s presence so close that I had to pray no matter where I was.

“On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there (to the one who set me there)
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own”
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!

At sunset tonight, a thunderstorm entered our area and thus, the third day of the Jewish High Holy Days began. I look at the question that I have set aside for today and wonder about the vision I see for the coming year. Then I get sidetracked and I wonder what Rabbi Yeshua pondered for his vision during his ministry years? What did his mother, Mary, envision for her life in that coming year as she watched her son set about His Father’s business? The disciples? His family?

You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!” ~”Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells

Sometimes – I think way too much. I just need to turn off the question machine and listen, be thankful, and bend the cranky ol’ knees. After all – 17 years can go by in the blink of an eye.

“Listen Now -Serve the LORD with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.” ~Psalm 2:11 

9 11 2018

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A STIFF-NECKED, STUBBORN SOUL

For a couple of years when I was in college, I sang in a choir for the High Holy Days at a nearby Jewish synagogue. It was there that I made the connection that Jesus – Yeshua – was a Jewish rabbi. It’s not that I hadn’t been told that – after all it is in the gospels. He was called, “Rabbi”, and I’m sure that at some point, one of my pastors or teachers must have mentioned it. But it took a Rosh Hashanah and the 10 days to Yom Kippur to make it sink in through my stiff-neck, stubborn self. 
Day after day as I walked into the synagogue and listened to the rituals that had been passed down through the ages, my  eyes opened a little wider and I began to wonder about things that had never entered my thick skull before.
“Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.” Ps 98:1-4
 
It was the first time I heard a shofar. The first time I heard the Jewish language. The first time I saw Jewish words in print. The first time I tried to look through the eyes of the Jewish worldview at the Savior that I had fallen in love with long ago..
 
Jewish oral tradition believes that Tishri 1 – this head of the year – was the day people were created. It continues that this was also the day that Abraham’s Sarah became pregnant, and a few years later – the day when Issac was bound to be offered as a sacrifice. It was only after God provided a sacrifice to replace Issac that He created the first two shofroth from the horns of that sheep. It would serve as a loud testimony down through the ages of His love and faithfulness to all His people.  
 
The LORD remembered His love for His people. The LORD made His salvation known to all the ends of the earth with the sound of the horns. Just as the Father breathed life into His child, man breaths life into the sofar as The Feast of the Trumpets rings throughout the land. 
 
“with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.” Ps 98:6
 
Many continue to use the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as a period of fasting and reflection. A time to look back, and a time to look forward A time to throw out failures and a time to draw a new vision. A time to mourn over foolishness, and a time to sing over successes. A time to look within, and a time to look up to the One who breathed life into clay and continues to love unconditionally.
 
A couple years back, for each of the 10 days of High Holy Days, a question was posed on an electronic billboard in Times Square in NYC. Questions meant to encourage contemplation for the new year to anyone who read them . I don’t know what those questions were, but I do wonder as I start to formulate my own journey for these next 10 days. After all, Jesus honored, as was His habit, His Father’s commands in Leviticus 23 as He walked this earth. It just might do some good for this stubborn, stiff-necked soul as well.
 
“Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
Let them sing before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.” Ps 98:7-9 

 

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PRAYING FOR PASTORS #9

“Every one who is called by My name, even for My honour I have created him, I have formed him, yea, I have made him.”~Is 43:7

There is something about a fall bouquet of flowers that makes me linger just a little longer as I add water – fuss a little more – breathe a little deeper the freshness that will soon be tucked back into the ground until spring’s warm breath softens the ground and a tiny shoot appears. It makes me wish I had just a little longer to sit on the swing and watch butterflies flit over the lantana as a silly kitten tries to catch them.

In Jewish tradition the High Holy Days are ending.  The new year has begun and even though the people are ready to get back to “life”, they linger – they sigh – they drag their feet.  After all, who ever wants to leave their Father’s presence and return to “normal”?  YHWH heard that silent whisper in their hearts and granted them one more holy day – a day to linger – a day to honor – a day to breathe their Father deeply into themselves – deeply enough to break through the crustiness of the days ahead that they might bloom in the fullness of His will.

And that is what I am praying over all pastors tonight.

I am praying in Yeshua’s name that as each day begins, pastors, their spouses, their families, their congregations (and me) all find time to remember that very first time when they chose to honor YHWH – to linger a little longer in His presence before beginning the day – to breathe even deeper the essence of the “Live-giver” as they head into daily life – to re-establish the very purpose which brought them to this path in the beginning – to pray continuously throughout the day – to laugh with loved ones and with the Father of us all as the sun begins to set – and to wish for just one more minute in prayer before the eyes drift into sleep once more.  

It is our purpose – our deepest desire – just one more minute – just one more chapter in the Book – just a little longer by the life-giving waters – just one more song sung in His presence – just a little more time to see clearly the path His Son showed us to walk – just a little more time for the sake of a few.  That is my prayer tonight for all of you – for our country – for our world – for me – so that someday we might all be able to repeat this verse as best we can – 

“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”~Jn 17:4

Writer’s Block

writingWriter’s blocks are debilitating, demoralizing and just down-right depressing. Words get written, erased, re-written and erased again.  Sometimes the words don’t come at all, and the computer screen or paper remains blindingly white.  So after a week of Bronchitis – another week of “catch-up” (on all those things I ignored while I was curled in a ball coughing) and finally, a week of trying to get back on a  “normal” schedule, I decided the best thing to write about was the hidden gifts in all of this.

“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.”  Prov 3:13 

Writing has been my outlet since I was little.  When I was little and upset with my mom and dad, I would write letters and stick them where I knew they would find them (a bathroom magazine/book rack was a favorite spot).  Being the intelligent, loving parents they were, they never openly acknowledged the venting of their youngest child in a head-on confrontation, but they always found indirect ways to let me know that they had, indeed, found these rambling, often emotional, poorly written outbursts.  All the same, they gave credence to these fledgling expressions.  Sometimes it was in the topics that we discussed around the supper table.  Sometimes it was in the songs that writing nikethey sang to me as we said our prayers at night.  And sometimes, it was just that extra special hug or time spent doing things together that let me know they heard.  Needless to say, writing became one of the primary ways for me to communicate with them when topics were too scary to approach in conversation.  That’s why the past couple of weeks have been hard.  Not writing is almost as bad as a tummy ache…maybe worse.  But not being able to write however reminds me that these dry spells can be a gift in disguise.  While gifts may be wrapped in our physical DNA and propensity of traits (mom and dad were both writers of poetry, song lyrics, speeches and long, long letters), it is Our Father’s blessing that enhances those gifts and weaves them into a tight package that blesses those around us.

“All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the LORD’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.”  1 Chron 28:19

This time the gift was one of receiving.  I listened to lots of people talking via blogs, sermons, TED talks, books- even TV shows as I coughed my way back to health (thanks to the blessings science and the discovery of antibiotics). But mostly –  I spent a lot of time in quiet reflection.  It came at the perfect time (which is exactly the way God works in this crazy world), and while I didn’t realize it at the time (since I was coughing way too much for any kind of logical thought), I needed to be slowed down and reminded about the Author of our gifts.  Eventually, it also surfaced to the forefront of my spinning brain that Jewish month of Elul would start soon and in fact – starts yesterday (the 27th of August).  In Jewish tradition, this is the month of reflection – a looking back – a taking stock of the good and bad things/choices that have transpired over the past year.  The shofar echoes across the land as a physical reminder leading His people into the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.

“Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the LORD your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly.”  Deut 16:18  

mouth gateIn Hebrew this last verse is written in the singular tense.  Rabbis believe this is because it is not just written for the nation, but in fact, is written for the individual as well.  It is a reminder that as we reflect upon this past year, we should “appoint a judge” to evaluate our performance and also set “officials” over the gates that need protecting.  Common gates such as our thought processes, mouths, eyes, ears, etc. must be protected so that the next year will be much better than the previous year.  In other words, Our Father is encouraging us to “judge” ourselves and guard the gates to His temple that resides within each and everyone of us.

“I will not enter my house or go to my bed, I will allow no sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.” Ps 132:3-5  

As usual, David – the shepherd, the warrior, the king, the husband, the father, the sinner, the passionate, creative poet – says it best, and I wonder if he wrote it during the month of Elul because it is so reflective.  What better goal could I set for the coming holy days than this?  I [will] find a place for the LORD,  a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob…  

Writing-writing-31277215-579-612Nothing is more important than this – NOTHING.