Tag: Prayer

The Temptation to Doubt: Was it God … or Just a Thing?

 

I didn’t sleep much last night, which isn’t very different from every other night, but last night I had something new on my mind. Images of my mother’s ravaged body after decades of experimental drugs administered by heinous injections intended to treat her RA, which they did, but they also slowly killed her off in so many other ways.

She was hospitalized in the late ‘90s, and while still in what would be a weeks-long coma, I stood alone at her bedside in the ICU shortly after she’d suffered a severe brainstem stroke. Being the self-righteous prig that I sometimes was back then (and still can be now), I said something like, “Well Mom, this is how things go when you make poor choices.”

Yes, I really said that … or something close to that.

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Life comes at you fast, they say, events and changes that upset our equilibrium – or threaten to – engulfing us and bringing forth worry, fear, anger. Or all of the above. When all we can see are wind-tossed waves, when all we can hear are the yells and shrieks of fury, when all we […]

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Give Me Some of That Watered Down Religion

 

A friend posted this morning that today would normally be a great day, one of his favorites of the year. The last work day of the year. People bringing in food for a potluck lunch. Then sitting around chatting and not working, eventually landing on discussing Star Wars. This year it is just Wednesday.

It reminded me of my work’s Christmas Holiday Party this year. It was last week over Zoom. No one in my branch went and I don’t know if anyone did. The directorate would always have a meetup on the first Friday on the month in the Before Times. They kept advertising virtual ones during the year so maybe some people are still attending them. I was then reminded of a different Holiday Party years ago. I was in the military and we were having a commander’s call in November. They called the company grade officer in charge of the party to come up and give the details. He lead off with “The Christmas Party will be…”. He was stopped and corrected to say Holiday. I think he said Christmas one more time before being corrected again and finally saying Holiday Party.

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Autumn has arrived, at last, and with it, a reminder that there is a natural cycle at work, and a season for every purpose and every thing, according to a divine and created order. Many are the days that I have to remind myself and those I love that the angst of the era is […]

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” The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and communities. The tempest lays bare […]

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Some of you may be experiencing a load of frustration with all the confusion, challenges, attacks on our freedom, and foolish decision-making which abound during this time of Covid-19. I don’t know about you, but I’m a big believer in trying to help others amidst the chaos, helping those who are suffering by sending positive […]

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‘Its Effect is to Hold The World Together’

 

The whole neighborhood is home and the grills are going. I sniff the air like Yogi Bear and start pulling things out of the freezer to grill for the week. My cousin from Vegas called to check on us. She is 10 years older and, if there was a liberal chart, she would fall off. We have been closer in touch since the passing of her sister, my other cousin, 15 years older, a couple of years ago. We don’t breach politics. We skirted the issue when she revealed her “psychotic event” when Trump was elected – sigh. So we keep it light. I love the sound of her melodic voice that reminds me of childhood.

She called yesterday and in our five-minute call, as I said we were on our way to pick up food, lamented that Las Vegas is a ghost town. It thrives on crowds — the Strip, gambling, sports events, concerts, conventions — now all gone. Then she suddenly began to rail on Trump, and how his “slow” response to the virus caused our current situation. I asked what about all the other world leaders and their responses? She said, but we are the greatest country, and he dismantled Obama’s emergency response team! I won’t go there but I dismissed it with, “Well, glad you are all ok, and can I call you back?” I don’t feel like calling her back.

I wrote this Saturday, and today is Palm Sunday. The whole world is experiencing Lent, like it or not. Lent is a time of reflection, remorse, a seat on a cliff in the desert, alone. It’s dry, prickly, and scary. Palm Sunday was mentioned by our Vice President, Mike Pence, in Saturday’s briefing. Before that, Dr. Fauci and President Trump, along with his Emergency Response team, gave a conference. It was encouraging. He takes his cues from his team, and gives not only information but whatever else is needed by our country’s governors.

Cryptic Phone Message is No April Fools

 

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida issued a stay-at-home order that will go into effect Friday night at midnight. Our roads and byways are already empty, except for grocery shoppers and local labor that is still on job sites (i.e., painters, carpenters, etc.). Restaurants are closed – take-out only if they can. So a few minutes ago, a solemn and serious message came over our landline from our local authorities stating the new order. They said our local sheriff’s office will be making more clarifications available and take questions and answers at a certain time tomorrow. We get messages like this when an impending hurricane is approaching, or other weather hazards like extreme heat, where we are asked to conserve energy. But nothing like this.

I watched on our local PBS station the story of the 1918 Flu — how it started, escalated, the tolls. It was appalling and I couldn’t finish watching it. I was trying to understand how worldwide epidemics begin and how they take the world by storm. It’s a different world since 1918. Even with SARS, Bird Flu, and Swine Flu, the swiftness of this terrible scourge across the world is nothing like we have ever experienced. I’m scared and still working. So is my husband.

I picked up some extra items at the store today – they were out of toilet paper at an early hour. I feel very fortunate and blessed – we have no debt and worked hard the last few years to get there. We have some savings and are frugal.  I have a small garden. I can get through a measly 30 days. I am scared for those that can’t. I’m shocked by a text where our local church asks us to pray for a parishioner who is having a foot amputated and her husband cannot be there because of COVID-19 restrictions. Funerals are limited to only a few family members, so good-byes have to be done from a distance.

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See the two standards, their standard bearers, and the followers of each standard. First, look to the prominent place where the devil (the adversary) is, and see his followers. His followers possess good health, the pleasure of society, the praise of others, wealth, even fun!  Then look to the lowly place where Jesus is and […]

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A Moment in Time: My First Orthodox Jewish Wedding

 

It was a heart-filling experience, one that will become an indelible memory in my budding Jewish experience. I attended the wedding of iWe and Mrs. iWe’s son #2 and his bride.

I was a bit nervous about attending, fighting off a low-level anxiety about potentially “doing the wrong thing.” A few days before the wedding, however, I realized how silly and self-centered my concerns were. I was not attending this blessed occasion to make some kind of impression on those who were there; I was attending to contribute joy (simcha), offer blessings and goodwill with everyone else for the bride and groom. Holding that wish in my heart was the only mission I needed, and the one that guided me through the day.

What Prayers Do You Offer When Catastrophe Looms?

 

This morning, I’ve been thinking a great deal about my many friends in Florida. Off the top of my head (and forgive me if I’ve left you out), I can identify @frontseatcatt, @formerlawprof, @jamesgawron, @samuelblock, @cm, @bossmongo, @eb, @theotherdiane, @kevincreighton, @barkhaherman, and I know there are many others. Feel free to use this post to let us know where you are.

Due to the impending hurricane, I’m inclined to pray for all of these folks, for those who have already been hit in the islands, and for those who may be hit outside of Florida. But I realized that prayer is an odd thing: outside of the written prayers, just what can or should I pray for?

I tend to pray for the safety and well-being of those who could be affected. I don’t pray for the storm to move away from us; I believe that G-d rarely interferes with nature, and I don’t know if he chooses to act on hurricanes. I also realize the storm may miss us altogether. But assuming it arrives here, I think prayer is helpful in many ways.

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Can one know God?  Can one experience God?  Saint Gregory Palamas, an ascetic monk, priest, and later Archbishop of Thessalonica asked these very questions.  His answers, based on centuries of understanding and experience, became the foundation of the final major dogmatic development in Orthodox Theology.  For this, St. Gregory is commemorated on the second Sunday […]

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Greetings, dear Ricochetti and hey there, prayer partners! The Lenten season of reflection and preparation for Easter (for those observing it) is upon us. Along with the cultivation of good, possibly new physical habits, might we consider an attitudinal one, as well? This could include any one or all of the following: Preview Open

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What Does It Mean to Pray for Others?

 

Over the last few years, many of us have expressed our desire to pray for others who have been the victims of savagery, storms, illness and other kinds of suffering. There are times when we can do other things—make donations, help make repairs, offer words of comfort. It occurred to me, though, how much I rely on praying for others as a way to not only offer solace to them, but as a way to relate to G-d and comfort myself. And yet at one time, I didn’t know what praying for others meant.

I grew up in a barely Jewish family that didn’t speak of prayer or of G-d. We did attend High Holiday Services and decorated for Chanukah. I was even sent to Hebrew and Sunday schools. But even there I don’t remember talking about prayer. At services, of course, there were many prayers to recite; when I returned to Judaism, I was amazed at the number of prayers I remembered just from my exposure to them as a child at synagogue. But they were simply verses I recited, rather than my relating to them in a spiritual way.