10-Minute Challenge

Have you ever had one of those moments, a peak experience, when time slows down and everything fades away? You lose track of space and time. You are in the flow. You are fully present. You become one with all that is reality. Now here is the Challenge….


Inspiration & Experiences
(scroll down for more)

Passover Connects Us by M. E. Kabay

Passover connects us
To the experiences of our
Through centuries of
struggle and joy.
We remember the plagues
The suffering
The hatred
And resolve never to forget
Never to ignore the cruelty
Directed at anyone
Because of their origins
Their color
Their religion.
We will celebrate Passover
Time and again
By standing up
For justice
For love
For acceptance.
May our strength
Strengthen all peoples
To walk with us
In strength and peace.

by M. E. Kabay
26 Jan. 2018

You and I

I am Vermont Too

Take 8-minutes to listen to this powerful statement of how People of Colour deal with basic microaggressions everyday, even here in Vermont.  When the show is done, sit with your eyes closed and take 2-minutes to reflect on whether you yourself have been the target of microaggressions, or you yourself have made micro-racist comments or actions like these.

In honour of Leonard Cohen's 1-Year Anniversary Yahrzeit

Thing by Leonard Cohen

I am this thing that needs to sing
I love to sing
to my beloved’s other thing
and to my own dear sweet G-d
I love to sing to Him and her
and to my baby’s lower fur
which is so holy
that I want to crawl on my knees
off a high cliff
and sail around singing
in the wind
which is so friendly
to my feathery spirit
I am this thing
that wants to sing
when I am up against the spit
and scorn the judges
O G-D I want to sing
I am

In honour of this growing movement #MeToo, take a moment to educate yourself

A Joyous Insanity by Rabbi Josh Mark, PhD

As we end Sukkot, here’s a special bit of poetic inspiration to embrace the Joyous Insanity of the season…

They’re everywhere
Those yelling peddlers of palms and citrons
From darkened bus stops,
like some upside down pusher
To the chaotic courtyard of my shul
Breathlessly asking,
‘Can I sell you the four species?’

Never tiring or despairing
Hoping to make you that
special match with the
choicest of sets

It’s crazy
Yom Kippur ended
Succot in the air
Our city full of sounds of
booths being put up
The clang of metal poles
The whirl of electric drills
The banging of determined hammers

And the delicious yells of those kids
Hawking their holy wares
late into the night
It’s just what we need
This wonderful insanity
In a season of introspection
and preoccupation
With worried prayers and
frantic pleas
The terrible rationality of
life comes into
dreaded focus
Will I live or will I die?

Then comes Succot and
‘Enough already!
Enough with your calculations
With your fears
Enough with your guilt
Let’s run around with palm
branches and fancy lemons
Let’s sit in rickety booths of
fabric and wood
And in place of blackness of
Let’s look up and into the stars’
Of course it’s insane

Thank God for that
Better a life of vibrant joy
Than the soul strangling
Tyranny of rationality and
its horrible despair
So sure kid I’ll take a set or two

A meditation on resilience and light
Amy's Experience

I was feeling hard pressed to come up with a practice until I realized in the last month more than one person has suggested that I actually take time to make myself dinner and sit down at the dinner table and eat it as I would if I had a guest visiting for whom I would make this effort. I find that I am mostly eating on the run these days and because it is just me I am more likely to not sit by myself and eat a nice dinner but to grab what I can and get out of the kitchen as fast as I can. I enjoy cooking and so have decided that my meditative practice is going to be to go into the kitchen each night with the intention of making myself a delicious meal that I will eat at the dinner table. I will use my mother’s china and I may even light some candles. Tonight is Shabbat so there will definitely be candles involved as well as a few prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving for this glorious day, this amazing summer and for what lies ahead.

For Houston- To Bend Light. By Alden Solovy

To Bend Light
Jewish Prayers from the Heart and Pen of Alden Solovy

A prayer for the people of Houston in the wake of Harvey.
For Houston
G-d of earth and sea,
Of ocean and shore,
Source of All,
This storm is relentless and unyielding,
Bringing destruction and chaos.
Who will suffer? Who will stay secure?
G-d of mystery and awe,
Grant us safety as the waters engulf our homes and our lives.
Protect us. Shield us. Guard us.
Grant peace to those in fear.
Grant food and clothing,
Warmth and shelter to those in need.
Bless emergency and rescue workers with the tools and skills they need
As they risk their lives for the sake of our families, communities and friends.
Grant healing to those who are sick or injured,
And solace to the bereaved.
Bless us with common sense throughout the squall
And with kinship and cooperation when the storm passes.
G-d of awe and wonder,
Our Rock and our Refuge,
See us through the torrent.
Watch us through the days and nights,
For comfort, security and well-being,
So that we may serve You
And each other,
In love.
© 2017 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Still I Rise- Maya Angelou

A poem to contemplate (shared last Monday at the Community Gathering for Human Rights and Dignity in Stowe)

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Julia's Experience

I have chosen for my challenge to be be more open to music and singing. Singing used to bring me great joy and was an expression of my soul. Along the way some things happened that made music and singing very challenging for me emotionally, physically and spiritually. I would really like to get back to using my voice as a means to express that part of myself that I feel is closest to God and my unbroken self.

My first step towards singing with joy started even before Elul, a few years ago when I started attending Friday night services. I’ve admitted to myself that I have improved since then though I am still challenged. When this 10 minute a day challenge came along, I decided that I would learn to chant a parsha on Rosh Hashanah. Learning both the Hebrew without vowels and memorizing the cantillation seemed overwhelming at first and I felt frustration that my ear wasn’t as good as it used to be. But with only weeks before Rosh Hashanah I believe I have mastered the parsha. That’s not to say that when I get on to the bema I won’t go blank, but I am happy that I have rose to the challenge and began on this path. Figuring out how to continue my singing daily after the holidays might be a challenge in and of itself, but I am committed to sit with the feelings that come up, persevere and have faith.

I worry that after the holidays, the real challenge begins, but I will live in today and be proud of myself that I am following this path.

Claudia's Experience

Day 1, 1 Elul, 5777
I am choosing the hardest thing for me, feelings. I am very good at not feeling anything most of the time, after years of practice. My activity will be breathing. I am exceptionally good at breathing! I have been working on a daily breathing meditation (י-ה-ו-ה), so this is motivation to make it a part of my schedule, and with the specific focus of noticing my feelings.

Reflections on First Three Days
Day 1 was fine. I sat, I breathed, I felt good. It was very peaceful.
Day 2 was harder. I fell asleep halfway through. Maybe bedtime isn’t the right time for this?
Day 3 was horrible. I sat. I breathed. I reviewed the events of the day. This morning I had a public altercation with a co-worker that left me vibrating with anger. I realize that I need to work on that relationship and acknowledge my part in our argument. After all, I did park in ‘his’ parking spot!
I kept breathing. Starting thinking about my family. And the next thing I knew, I was sobbing uncontrollably. See, this is why I don’t like feeling the feels. It is all or nothing. I have never grieved for the loss of my daughter, and it is painful and I would rather not deal with it. After all, I gained a son. Or two, as the case may be. But once the floodgates are opened, I don’t know how to shut them again. And now I keep crying at random moments. How do you turn off the feelings?

Lynne's Experience

One challenge for me is to take better care of myself physically and to exercise. I have so many beautiful places to walk and I haven’t been doing it much at all. For my Elul challenge, I am taking 10 minutes (or more) to go for a walk outside and stretch my body and feel the peace. I finally started yesterday and took my dog with me. Felt good.