Let My Heart Be Open

Rabbi Chaim Stern (adapted)

For the times when I could have made peace with my neighbor but picked a quarrel, forgive me. And forgive me too for the times when I could have accepted with grace an offer of friendship, or reconciliation, but did not choose to listen. At times, in my willfulness, I may have closed my heart to the possibility of a healing world. Today - and tomorrow - let my heart be open.

For Those Who Have Died

Rabbi Chaim Stern

‘Tis a fearful thing
to love
what death can touch.
To love, to hope, to dream,
and oh, to lose.

A thing for fools, this,
but a holy thing,
to love what death can touch.

For your life has lived in me;
Your laugh once lifted me;
Your word was a gift to me.

To remember this brings painful joy.

‘Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing,
to love
what death can touch


Merrit Malloy

When I die, Give what’s left of me away
To children And old me that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me, Put your arms Around anyone
And give them What you need to give to me.

I want to leave you something,
Something better Than words Or sounds.
Look for me In the people I’ve known Or loved,
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on in your eyes And not your mind.

You can love me most By letting Hands touch hands,
By letting bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go Of children That need to be free.
Love doesn’t die, People do.
So, when all that’s left of me Is love,
Give me away.

Tis a Fearful Thing

Yehuda HaLevi

Tis a fearful thing
to love what death can touch.

A fearful thing
to love, to hope, to dream, to be –

to be,
And oh, to lose.

A thing for fools, this,

And a holy thing,

a holy thing
to love.

For your life has lived in me,
your laugh once lifted me,
your word was gift to me.

To remember this brings painful joy.

‘Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing, to love
what death has touched.

Isaiah 55


Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.

Come with me, my love, come away

Song of Songs 2:11-13, trans by Marcia Falk

For the long chill months are past,
The rains have fed the earth
and left it bright with blossoms.
Birds wing in the low sky,
dove and songbird singing in the open air above.
Earth nourishing tree and vine,
green fig and tender grape,
green and tender fragrance.
Come with me my love, come away!

Between the Fires

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

We are the generation that stands
between the fires;
Behind us the flame and smoke
that rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima;
And from the burning of the Amazon forest;
Before us the nightmare of a Flood of Fire,
the flame and the smoke that consume all Earth.

It is our task to make from fire not an all-consuming blaze
but the light in which we see each other fully.
All of us different,
all of us bearing
One Spark.

We light these fires to see more clearly
that the Earth and all who live as part of it
are not for burning.
We light these fires to see more clearly
the rainbow in our many-colored faces.

Blessed is the One within the many.
Blessed are the Many who make one.

Remember That There Is Meaning Beyond Absurdity

I would say to young people
a number of things, and I have only one minute.

I would say — let them remember
that there is a meaning beyond absurdity.

Let them be sure that every little deed counts,
that every word has power,
and that we do — everyone — our share
to redeem the world, in spite of all absurdities,
and all the frustrations, and all the disappointment

And above all, remember that the meaning of life
is to live life as if it were a work of art.

- Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

From the Gates of Repentance

For the sin of silence, For the sin of indifference, For the secret complicity of the neutral. For the closing of borders, For the washing of hands, For the crime of indifference, For the sin of silence, For the closing of borders. For all that was done, For all that was not done, Let there be no forgetfulness before the Throne of Glory; Let there be remembrance within the human heart; And let there at last be forgiveness When Your children, O God, Are free and at peace.

Yom Kippur

By Eric Burch

Delivered at First UU Congregation of Second Life

On Oct 9th, 2008

>> Chalice Lighting.

For every time we make a mistake and we decide to start again:
     We light this chalice.

For every time we are lonely and we let someone be our friend:
     We light this chalice.

For every time we are disappointed and we choose to hope:
     We light this chalice.

And a special candle lighting, repeated recently for the celebration of Yom Kippur.

Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha'olam
asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav
v'tzivanu l'hadlik neir shel you hakippurim.

Blessed are You, our God, Creator of time and space,
who enriches our lives with holiness,
commanding us to kindle the Yom Kippur lights.

>> Reading

Here is an interpretation of the Hineni prayer
"Hineni" literally means "Here I Stand" and is said in Hebrew as part of the Yom Kippur service.

Here I stand
painfully aware of my flaws
quaking in my canvas shoes
and in my heart.

I'm here on behalf of this kahal
even though the part of me
that's quick to knock myself
says I'm not worthy to lead them.

All creation was nurtured
in Your compassionate womb!
God of our ancestors, help me
as I call upon your mercy.

Don't blame this community
for the places where I miss the mark
in my actions or my heart
in my thoughts or in our davening.

Each of us is responsible
for her own teshuvah.
Help us remember that
without recriminations.

Accept my prayer
as though I were exactly the leader
this community needs in this moment,
as though my voice never faltered.

Free me from my own baggage
that might get in the way.
See us through the rose-colored glasses
of Your mercy.

Transform our suffering into gladness.
Dear One, may my prayer reach You
wherever You are
for Your name’s sake.

All praise is due to You, Dear One
Who hears the prayers of our hearts.

--Rachel Barenblat

>>  Homily "Yom Kippur".

In the Jewish calendar the first ten days of the year, from the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah, through Yom Kippur, are the Days of Awe.
It is said that God has opened and is writing in The Book of Life those who have atoned for their sins in the last year.
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is special, with many prayers and rituals all day at the synagogue
for at sundown the Book of Life is closed for the rest of the year.

In these High Holy Days, one is supposed to spend time thinking about those actions one
has commited to harm another, and also those inactions that have caused others to be harmed.
At this time everyone is to search out and ask forgiveness from those who have been harmed.
It is kind of neat: here is a time of the year when you are expected to go out and ask for forgiveness.
A society has identified a time when asking for forgiveness is expected and normal.

I'm not a Jew, but the time my friends take off these past few days gives me an opportunity to pause
and reflect on some of the things I've done in my life recently.
I do take this time of year to find a few people who I have harmed, explain why this time of year is
special to Jews, and ask to make amends with them.
With my wife, who thinks this is just a little bit silly, she knows this is a good time for us to go over the
state of our relationship.

In my real life church, we have our annual Service of Reconciliation, where we reflect on our actions of the last year.
All of us take a small stone as we enter the santuary, and spend time reflecting on our recent actions while holding that stone.
If, by about three-quarters of the way through the service, we think our names would be in the Book of Life, we can return the
stomes to a table in the santuary; if we think we have some more work to do, we keep the stones.
About half of the congregation returns the stones during the service.
While we reconcile with those we have harmed, we can carry the stone and return it to the church (we have a rock garden).

For myself, I returned the stone, though I did have one bit of work to do--here in Second Life, in fact.
The person whom I asked forgiveness a few days ago is familiar with the Days of Awe, and seemed amused that I asked
forgiveness for being very very annoying, but not really harmful.

The High Holy Days are a good time to go out of our way to ask for forgiveness;
there are thousands of years of tradition to cover our actions.
We have the entire calendar to use to make amends.

>>  Discussion.

How do we return to completeness after part of our soul is broken from our action or our inaction?
Can we use a Ritual of Reconciliation in our congregations?
Do you feel that avatars can cause as much real pain as a person, or are we just capable of being annoying and not much more?
How can we here in Second Life heal some of the hurt that has been done?

What do you think?

>>  Closing Words.

There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken,
A shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow beyond all grief which leads to joy
And a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space too vast for words
Through which we pass with each loss,
Out of whose darkness we are sanctified into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound whose serrated edges cut the heart
As we break open to the place inside which is unbreakable
And whole.
  -- Rashini

We are never complete.
We are never finished.
We are always yet to be.
May we always allow others to be,
and help and enable each other to grow toward all that we are capable of becoming.

May every sunrise hold more promise, every moonrise hold more peace.

Be well, the service is over... 
LeShana Haba BiYerushalayim!  Next Year In Jerusalem!


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