Seed of Inspiration
Each Saturday we will bring you a reading from different religious, spiritual, or philosophical tradition that continues in the spirit of the Women's March. Although many of you may be Christians who have signed up to scatter seeds as your Lenten discipline, our strong commitment to hear women of all faiths and of no faith is vital to our progress as intersectional feminists. This Spiritual Saturday, we will be listening to music from the Jewish tradition. Next week, we will share a seed from a different tradition. Whether or not your are of the featured tradition, we invite you to simply meditate on the seed with an open mind and heart.
The video was submitted by my dear college friend, fellow marcher, and Cantorial Student Laura Stein (on guitar) with Rabbinical Student, Rena Singer. Laura and Rena are both Reform Jewish clergy students at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City. The songs they are performing are called "Those Who Sow" and "Mourning Into Dancing." Both were written by a very famous Jewish composer named Debbie Friedman who changed the face of Jewish music and Jewish prayer. She is regarded as perhaps the most influential woman in Reform Judaism. Sadly, she passed away in 2011. These songs have both Hebrew and English in them.
Laura and Rena are dressed in tallitot (prayer shawls) and standing in front of the ark which is holding 3 Torahs (Hebrew Bibles).
The meaning of the 2 songs: Psalm 126:5 -- The line "Those who sow in tears will reap in joy" or in Hebrew, "Hazorim b'dimah b'rinah yiktzoru" is found in the Jewish liturgy, in Psalms and is also found in the blessing said after Jews have eaten. Laura says, "I chose to use it because obviously, it's about turning/sowing our tears into joy. For our march, it's incredibly powerful and relevant, for it speaks to exactly what we're doing. The bible teaches us that those who sow our weariness into well-being -- by scattering seeds of goodness -- will prosper the most." You can find the Hebrew text by clicking here.
The second song, "Mourning Into Dancing" comes from Psalm 30:12. Laura says that this psalm, "reminds of us God's power -- that God has the ability to turn our mourning into joy/dancing, if only we are devoted and believe in Him. I believe that we show our devotion to God by spreading righteousness throughout the world."
Thank you Laura and Rena for sharing your music, for your devotion, and for marching with us! Enjoy their music with the following guided music meditation:
- Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit and listen.
- Take a minute to center yourself, mindfully noticing the sounds and sensations around you. Follow your breath.
- Watch the video once through, listening to the psalms.
- Now, close your eyes and take a few minutes to meditate on the music you just heard. Replay the music in your mind. What do words and/or melodies do you recall?
- Now play the video again for a second time, but this time, listen to the music with your eyes closed.
- Once the music is over, keep your eyes closed and sit for several minutes more in silent meditation. Notice which words or phrases of the psalms seem to echo in your ears or rest on your heart, and meditate on those "sticky" parts. How was it different for you listening the second time from the first?
- Now, play the video for a third time, this time, singing or humming along with whichever parts you can remember. Sing with joy as if no one is listening!
- Last, close your music meditation by thanking yourself for taking the time to plant a seed of peace within yourself, and in turn, in the world.
Seed of Action
"Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?" --Isaiah 58:3-7
Today, we ask you to take up -- in any way of your own imagining -- the practice of fasting in order to bring about justice, as described above in the Torah. Here are some ideas of different kinds of nontraditional "fasts" for justice to get you started:
- Perhaps, in order to bring about environmental justice, you might fast from eating meat today. Did you know that cutting out meat can cut your carbon footprint in half?
- Another fast for environmental justice would be a "carbon fast." You could do this by tossing your keys and choosing to carpool, walk, ride a bike, or use public transportation for the day.
- What about putting your pantry on a fast? Do you really need all those canned goods and unopened dry goods? Drop them all off at a local food bank.
- Put your closet on a fast as described on the website http://bemorewithless.com/project-333/, where you dress with 33 items or less for 3 months. At the end of 3 months, donate the clothes you realize you actually don't need to charity.
- How about a "credit card fast?" Can you go a whole day without swiping or buying anything? Now, donate whatever you think you would have spent to the charity of your choice.
- You calendar definitely needs to go on a fast. Write down your top three values. Then, look at your calendar. Try to eliminate as many things as possible on your calendar that do not align with your top values. Be ruthless. Now, with the added room -- if you don't already -- schedule in sacred time for seed-scattering -- whether that be volunteering, attending activism events, booking self-care practices for yourself, or carving out quality time with those you love.
- The ultimate test: how long would you go on a screens/tv/internet/social media fast? Now, use whatever time you would have wasted on your media vice playing this addicting vocabulary game instead: www.freerice.com. You won't believe it, but for every answer you get right, advertisers pay for 10 grains of rice to be donated to the World Food Program.
- For more about nontraditional fasting, read Christian writer Jen Hatmaker's book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.
Self Care Sunday
We have designated Sundays as your day off from marching for an intentional self-care practice of your choosing, so you will not receive an email tomorrow. Those of Jewish faith or with conflicting schedules may wish to take Saturday off instead, which is always okay; simply swap Saturdays and Sundays.
For this Self Care Sunday, I invite you to spend some time routines, and how you might develop one simple self care routine.
For example, everyone has a morning routine, even if you don't think you do. Personally, my morning routine usually begins with me hitting the snooze button, groaning, and rolling over to see that my 3-year-old daughter has found her way into our bed sometime in the middle of the night and is sleeping perpendicular with her feet next to my head. My husband then gets out of bed to wake up our son for school. Soon after, I hear the two of them -- both morning people -- talking in the kitchen, so I feel guilty and finally stumble out of bed, open the dog crates, shuffle into the kitchen, and fire up the tea kettle. This is beginning of my morning routine.
Routines and habits are so powerful because they are automatic. Do anything chain of behaviors in a chain enough times, and without any effort at all, you're now doing them every day. On the flip side, it takes great cognitive effort to override our habits; that's why it's so hard for me to get out of bed in the morning.
It took me until I was 32 years old to realize that self care cannot just be the periodic indulgent mani-pedi when you're at the end of your rope. Self care must be a disciplined habit -- a way of life. It must be part of your regular routine if you want to live a happy, full life.
Social science tells us that if we want to do any behavior regularly -- like a self care practice -- we have to make it a habit. And in order to make it a habit, we have to make it part of one of our routines. It isn't enough to say, "I resolve in 2017 to find a time to meditate every day!" because our day will get busy, we'll just keep putting it off, and there goes our New Year's resolution. Routines, however, assure behaviors happen.
To craft your routine, use the following formula: Whenever __________ then I ___________.
Here are some examples:
- Whenever I walk through the garage door, I put my keys on the rack and smile before greeting my family.
- Whenever I hear a text message ding, I take a deep cleansing breath.
- Whenever I walk in the door from work, I first put on my running shoes to walk the dog.
- Whenever I get in the car and buckle my seatbelt, I first take a mindful moment to close my eyes and center myself before driving.
- Whenever I leave the house, I kiss my spouse and tell her I love her.
- Whenever I hear my baby cry, I close my eyes and say a prayer.
- Whenever I lay my head down on my pillow at night, I think of three things I'm grateful for.
- Whenever I drink a cup of coffee, I follow it with a cup of water.
- Whenever someone asks me to volunteer for something and I'm tempted to say "yes," I first say, "Let me think it over, and I'll get back to you in 24 hours."
What self care practice would you like to add to your life? How can you assure that it will happen by programming it into your habits with a routine?
First, start with one small and easy self care habit, and practice it until it is an unconscious part of your routine before even thinking about adding another. And know that you will fall off the wagon. Don't worry; that's part of the process. Just start again, and before you know it, your day will be peppered with unconscious self care practices.
To learn more about routines, habits, boundaries, happiness, and self care, read The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove At Home and At Work, by Dr. Christine Carter.
If you haven't already, please take a few moments to complete the Seeds to Scatter survey by following this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LMFVQQX. It's only 6 questions, and it will assure the second half of our march will be even better than the first! I would REALLY appreciate it!
I love to hear from you! Keep us posted on your seed-scattering adventures by email, posting on our Facebook page, or sending us a tweet @seedstoscatter!
And above all, scatter with love.