Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thoughts of Sacrifice

The Velveteen Rabbi, Reb Rachel Barenblat, wrote the following in her journal today:
Does God "need" our blessings? Reb Marcia Prager taught me to understand prayer as something like the cry of the infant which stimulates the flow of its mother's milk. "More than the calf wants to suckle," said the rabbis of the Talmud, "the cow wants to give milk." God wants to stream blessing into the world; our prayers, our cries, prime that cosmic pump. When we say "please," and when we say "thank you," we're sending our energy toward the Holy One—which in turn stimulates the flow of blessing back to us.
I love this image. It resonates with me. It gave me shivers when I read it, because it makes so much sense to me. I don't believe that the gods need us, per se, but I do believe they love us, and if they love us then it follows that they want to interact with us. They need us to reach to them, though, as a child reaches for a mother's hand as it learns to walk. If we're stubborn and refuse to reach out, we might make it onto our feet alone, but it would be more beneficial for both if we could stretch out our hands. 

More than that, when we reach out to God, to the gods, we stimulate both our own feelings of love and unity, and the divinity within. I believe the animating force within us is a small, infinitesimal piece of godhead, and that it yearns and longs to be together with its Whole again. Through prayer and blessings, those please and thank you moments, we stretch out across the universe and reunite with that which created our inner being. 


Get up, get out of bed
So many things to do
The day crowds in around me
And demands attention.
Yet I don't give in to the rush
Because to do so would be
To leave the desert of
Self contemplation
Self revelation
Self examination
That I have chosen to enter.
Forty days and nights I stay here
Taking out my soul from time to time
To examine it with close intention
To take inventory and note
Where there are lacks
And where abundance has changed
To stagnation and spoilage.
So I push away the many things
And settle into meditation
And sacrifice a bit of my day
To the Divine.
Each time I do this,
Deny the rush and pull,
I make sacred my intentions.
Like an infant's cry brings mother's milk,
My self imposed desert homage
Brings me within the grasp
Of the Holy,
There to be blessed with
Life sustaining love.
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