Flashing Signs..”Ya’ Know What I Mean?”

Symbols convey meaning. 

The Passover Seder table is filled with symbolic food, a bitter herb, an egg, unleavened bread.
Cultural myths develop out of years of shared meaning through story and symbol and collective celebration and practice.
 
Religion has carried the symbology for the deep inner journey for millennia, but so has artistic expression. Artists actually deal in the realm of the mythic, and when we come together for a dance or music concert or a play, there is rich inner symbolism which is activated. Conscious artists, like conscious shamans, know the power of their tools and use them for good. The idea- in a perfect world- is to use the symbols to touch the depths of our being in a positive way toward creating catharsis and conditions for transformation for the audience. But cultural artists have used music and pageantry to lead people into mass action which may or may not be constructive as well. I remember taking pictures of my brother’s graduation from NYU, and every time the music swelled, I snapped a shot! I was literally hypnotized by the music!  We laughed for years at some of weird shots I took that day.
 
Palm Sunday in the Christian tradition is rich in symbolism. The choice, by Jesus, of an animal of peace, a donkey, for his entry into Jerusalem for Passover said many things to the gathered crowds. Because the symbolism of that choice was probably present in the psyches of many of the people who greeted Jesus, they “got” the point in a way which we may not today. They cried “Hosanna!” which means “Save Us!” and they were hoping Jesus was going to save them from Roman rule. Palm fronds are a symbol of victory, and it was common to “cover’ the path of important personages. So the path was covered with a symbol of victory. Today we “cover” the path of our celebrities with a Red Carpet! It is the same idea.
But Jesus was trying to make a different statement about his mission. He may have planned to overturn Roman rule, but one would doubt that a military takeover would be his method. He rode in on a colt/donkey…which said ‘Peace” to all who could read the sign.
What do you say about yourself through the symbols of your dress, your language, who you hang out with? As Emerson said, “Who you are is yelling so loud, I can’t hear what you say to the contrary.”
 
For the next two weeks we have some very special events to share with you all. This Sunday we are celebrating the final Sunday of The Season for Nonviolence. What a great Season this has been!  After the service we will have refreshments in the session room, as we set up for our wonderful closing event, a showing of the film “For the Seventh Generation- The Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers” This is a do not miss event. The screening will be followed by a Q & A with the Producer, Carole Hart, and there are special guests who will also bless us before the film showing. Then afterward, we will again gather for refreshments and fellowship in the Session Room.
 
Then of course the next week is going to be an amazing day as well…Passover/Easter/Solstice/Resurrection Day! The Arts will be a huge part of this day, Rev. Ingrid and I will be sharing the message…Check out Jeremy’s blog to see what you have to look forward to. Please do not miss it.
 
Sending love and light to all in this sacred time,
See you Sunday,
Rev. Jane 

The Hero Lies In You

One evening just after Christmas I was hustling along a very busy and cheery 125th St., looking for a women’s clothing store I had heard might have something I was looking for. It was a really nice, cold, crisp almost dark winter evening, and I felt happy being among the shoppers and barkers outside the small stores. One of the men working for a gold reclamation store stepped into my path, with no malice, and said “Up against the wall”. He said it with great good humor. I was not at all either offended or afraid, but I was startled for a second, and looked around to realize that indeed I was the only “white ” person on the sidewalk.
I am very at home in the African American community. Honestly, I am maybe more at home there than in other environments. But of course I can’t see myself…and to this person I looked decidedly out of place. So I instantly got the point he was making, and when I got home, I began to research the NYC Stop and Frisk policy. In the last year 700,000 mostly young men of color have been stopped and frisked because they were seen by someone to be in the wrong neighborhood. This is allowed by law…and is a form of terrorism on a whole community.
And now, last week, a young man named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida by an “neighborhood watch” volunteer who “saw him as a threat” Trayvon was walking home from a convenience store, with candy and a soda in his hands..
I am always fascinated by New Age-ish “spiritual” sorts who do not want to discuss the very real challenges which exist in our world. The Buddha was one of the earliest crusaders for equal opportunities for women, as was Jesus of Nazareth,. Both of them actively worked to dismantle their respective cultural caste systems. Buddha was an environmentalist and encouraged people to plant a tree every year to make up for their own consumption of natural resources. Buddha too marched every day for Peace and Enlightenment, even going door to door, and was on at least one occasion a peace keeper between warring rulers.
At this time of year, when Christians are preparing for Easter and Jews for Passover, we ignore the demands of being conscious spiritual forces of both word and deed to our peril. The leaders who are idealized and quoted so freely after their deaths, were overwhelmingly people of courage, and spoke truth to power in the moments when it mattered….when it was happening!
I am grateful for the intervention of my angel /friend on 125th St. that Saturday evening in December. Since then, I have sought out ways to be of help in supporting our civic leaders to re-think both the Stop and Frisk policy, and the illegal racial and religious profiling of Muslim Americans. I pray that you will be inspired to join with me in becoming a source for change in our City, our beautiful New York City, which is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress from the events of 9/11. Like the Buddha, like Jesus of Nazareth, like the many courageous women and men who have stepped up to speak to injustice throughout history, you have a hero in you…
This week let us contemplate the depth of the power of a witness.
“Stay awake”,  as the Buddha would remind us.
You can’t rush a poem, but you can change the course of history, about which many poems of inspiration will be written.
Have a great week.
Love,
Rev. Jane

The Hero lies In You

One evening just after Christmas I was hustling along a very busy and cheery 125th St., looking for a women’s clothing store I had heard might have something I was looking for. It was a really nice, cold, crisp almost dark winter evening, and I felt happy being among e shoppers and barkers outside the small stores. One of the men working for a gold reclamation store stepped into my path, with no malice, and said “Up against the wall”. He said it with great good humor. I was not at all either offended or afraid, but I was startled for a second, and looked around to realize that indeed I was the only “white ” person on the sidewalk.
I am very at home in the African American community. Honestly, I am maybe more at home there than in other environments. But of course I can’t see myself…and to this person I looked decidedly out of place. So I got instantly the point he was making, and when I got home, I began to research the NYC Stop and Frisk policy. In the last year 700,000 mostly young men of color have been stopped and frisked because they were seen by someone to be in the wrong neighborhood. This is allowed by law…and is a form of terrorism on a whole community.
and now, last week, a young man named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida by an “neighborhood watch” volunteer who “saw him as a threat” Trayvon was walking home from a convenience store.
I am always fascinated by New Age-ish “spiritual” sorts who do not want to discuss the very real challenges which exist in our world. The Buddha was one of the earliest crusaders for equal opportunities for women, as was Jesus of Nazareth,. Both of them actively worked to dismantle their respective culture”s caste systems, Buddha was an environmentalist and encouraged people to plant a tree every year to make up for their own consumption of natural resources. Buddha too marched every day for Peace and Enlightenment, even going door to door, ad was in at least one occasion a peace keeper between warring rulers.
In this time of year, when Christians are preparing for Easter and Jews for Passover, we ignore the demands of being conscious spiritual forces of both word and deed to our peril. The leaders who are idealized and quoted so freely after their deaths, we’re overwhelmingly people of courage, and spoke truth to power in the moments when it mattered….when it was happening!
I am grateful for the intervention of my angel /friend on 125th St. That Saturday evening in December. once then, I have sought out was to be of help in supporting our leaders to re-think both the Stop and Frisk policy, and the illegal racial and religious profiling of Muslim Americans. I pray that you will be inspired to join with me in becoming a source for change in our City, our beautiful New York City, which is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress from the events of 9/11. Like the Buddha, like Jesus of Nazareth, like the many courageous women and men who have stepped up to speak to injustice throughout history, you have a hero in you…
This week let us contemplate upon the depth of the power of a witness.
Stay awake, as the Buddha would remind us.
You can’t rush a poem, but you can change the course of history, about which many poems of inspiration will be written.
Have a great week.
Love,
Rev. Jane

Stillness Under Pressure

Dear SANCTUARY NYC Friends,
 
What happened to winter? We have been blessed with an easy winter this year, but no jacket in March? Kind of weird.
The weather change has me thinking about how we sometimes cling onto a winter moment when the spring has already sprung into life all around us. We have got some internal clock which tells us things, and in NYC, it is very often freezing and even snowing in march…so when it is warm and sunny, and daffodils are blooming all over the place…we sometimes find ourselves going outside dressed for a season of cold weather when it is no longer cold!
Sometimes the storm has passed us by and we still have our snowsuits on!
tho ourselves.
I think that is the root of many of the biblical stories…this trying to make sense of floods and earthquakes and crazy things happening …so we blame it on a quixotic, unpredictable God.
 
I have a friend who is a geographer. She actually told me last year that the reason the weather was so extreme was that it was an “El Nina” year. She also told me that this winter would be mild. And it has been a mild winter. I must admit I would have been tempted to go on the “global warming is upon us” train…as my way of making sense of the weather. but since I knew to expect it, I realized that, while global climate change is no joke, it may not be the sole reason for the mild winter. It was the mild year following the El Nina.  There is an order to the Universe, and storms are part of the order. And storms don’t last forever.
 
I think we all can feel that there is a kind of quickening in the air. It is 2012, and whatever that really means, those of us who are sensitive to such shifts, are really feeling the rapidity of change, the birthing of new paradigms, the synchronicities and comings and goings and rearrangements, the intense creativity in the air. I would suggest that if we are focusing on what is moving away, or on the change and what has “come to pass’ , we are missing the gift.
The place to be is in the still, quiet eye of the storm. When a hurricane is raging, nature replicates the Creator force, by holding an absolutely still, silent place within the middle of that powerful force for change. And it is there, in that quiet place, “when the storms of life are raging’, that we can commune with the great eternal goodness. That is “the secret place of the most high” of which the bible speaks. 
You can’t rush a poem…but you can find the place from which the poem is being written, or is already written …and allow the pressure to build so that the big bang of creation doesn’t throw you off balance forever, and the new is centered in the wisdom of the silence.
 
Take a little time to “be still and know” this week.
See you Sunday at 2.
Love,Image

An Urban Oasis …

Aside

An Urban Oasis with a Global (Heart) Beat

We meet on Sundays @ 2pm at West Park Presbyterian, 165 West 86th Street, NYC

 

Dear SANCTUARY NYC Friends,

 
 “Ruach” is the Hebrew word for “The Breath of God”. It has been said that God made us in God’s image, and we have been trying to make God in our image ever since. The Bible and other sacred texts are inspired writings by human beings, who have turned this Force of the Eternal, this “All that Is’ into men with anger issues, with or without long grey beards. This is called the “anthropomorphizing” of the ineffable. In other words, in order to try to understand this awesome force, folks have tried to put a face on it and more often than not, they have put the face of an abusive parent on this Force of Love and Life.
 
I love the Baha’i phrase “Worship the Light, not the Lamp!” What does this mean? Well, if you make the Force of the Universe which animates all living things into a person…DON”T forget that it is the Spirit of Life in that person you created that is the Force…we are warned in many, many wisdom texts, and surely should be cautious if we look at human history, NOT to worship PEOPLE!!! We are in an age of celebrity which absolutely tears up the people behind the images we create as objects of worship. We watch one talented teacher or actor or singer after another reach the pinnacle of celebrity, and then crash and burn. We live vicariously through the drama of the Kardashians or the “Real ” Housewives of Atlanta at our peril…I mean love the fabulous clothes, get a couple of great decorating ideas, and snap out of it! 
 
YOU possess the power of the true and living Ruach in you. And the whole point of the Creation stories which abound in each culture, is to explain the unexplainable…this miracle of life…in some form which can be understood. The problem comes when we start interpreting the wisdom texts through a lens of control. Religions are about managing the message, and managing people, and creating franchised paths to G-d. Like Starbucks or Kentucky Fried …well, you get it. People have been trying to sell tickets to get to G-d for millenia. That’s what made Martin Luther mad enough to nail his “Protest” on the door of the Catholic Church – where he was a priest. (And then the Protestants perfected the art of free floating guilt without any confessional to get rid of it) 🙂 
 
God IS LOVE. The Breath of God is LIFE. Rabbi Jesus says “I come that you may have LIFE and have it more abundantly”. Meaning..”I come to remind you WHO YOU REALLY ARE!!!”
 
I heard some wonderful speakers this last week. Each of them said something which has really strengthened and encouraged me, but you may be surprised to hear who got to me the most. I heard Joyce Meyer say something I wanted to share with you all. Her fundamentalist theology makes me cringe, but her deep understanding of the way love works honestly transcends that. She said, “GOD IS NOT MAD AT YOU!!!!!!!” How cool is that? Go Joyce!! The Breath of Life brings, well, LIFE...not judgement or destruction. And the Breath of Life is not mad at you!!!
 
 
This month at SANCTUARY NYC we are dancing in the Spirit of Creation, of Re-Birth, and are using the metaphor of the poem as our frame. “You can’t rush a poem” is our theme…But you CAN get in sync with the Breath of Life, which creates the poem, and become part of the dance of creation.
 
As we feel the Spring greet us through the warm temperatures and in the chirping of the birds, I encourage you to contemplate your connection to the life force, to the Ruach…You are a reality star…starring in your own life. And each of us is called to use our unique gifts to circulate the blessing of life, to BE and SERVE our fellows…to Be the change we want to see – once we remember who we are.
 
You can’t keep it if you don’t give it away.
 
Have a great week,
See you Sunday at 2 at West Park Presbyterian.
 
With love…breathing…,
Rev. JaneImage

You Can’t Rush A Poem

Dear SANCTUARY NYC Friends,

 “Ruach” is the Hebrew word for “The Breath of God”.
It has been said that God made us in God’s image, and we have been trying to make God in our image ever since.
The Bible and other sacred texts are inspired writings by human beings, who have turned this Force of the Eternal, this “All that Is’ into men with anger issues, with or without long grey beards. This is called the “anthropomorphizing” of the ineffable.  In other words, in order to try to understand this awesome force, folks have tried to put a face on it. and more often than not, they have put the face of an abusive parent on this Force of Love and Life.
I love the Baha’i phrase “Worship the Light, not the Lamp!”
What does this mean? Well, if you make the force of the Universe which animates all living things into a person…DON”T forget that it is the Spirit of Life in that person you created that is the Force…we are warned in many, many wisdom texts, and surely should be cautious if we look at human history NOT to worship PEOPLE!!!
We are in an age of celebrity which absolutely ears up the people behind the images we create as objects of worship. We watch one talented teacher or actor or singer after another reach the pinnacle of celebrity, and then crash and burn. We live vicariously through the drama of the Kardashians or the “Real ” Housewives of Atlanta at our peril…I mean love the fabulous clothes, get a couple of great decorating ideas, and snap out of it!
YOU possess the power of the true and living Ruach in you. And the whole point of the Creation stories which abound in each culture, is to explain the unexplainable…this miracle of life…in some form which can be understood. The problem comes when we start interpreting the wisdom texts through a lens of control. religions are about managing the message, and managing people, and creating franchised paths to G-d. Like Starbucks or Kentucky Fried …well, you get it. People have been trying to sell tickets to get to G-d for millenia. That’s what made Martin Luther mad enough to nail his “Protest” on the door of the Catholic Church -where he was a priest. (And then the Protestants perfected the art of free floating guilt without any confessional to get rid of it):)
God IS LOVE. The Breath of God is LIFE.
Rabbi Jesus says “I come that you may have LIFE and have it more abundantly”.
Meaning..”I come to remind you WHO YOU REALLY ARE!!!”
I heard some wonderful speakers this last week. Each of them said something which has really strengthened and encouraged me, but you may be surprised to hear who got to me the most. I heard Joyce Meyer say something I wanted to share with you all. Her fundamentalist theology makes me cringe, but her deep understanding of the way love works honestly transcends that.
She said,
 “GOD IS NOT MAD AT YOU!!!!!!!”  
How cool is that? Go Joyce!!
The Breath of Life brings, well, LIFE...not judgement or destruction.
And the Breath of Life is not mad at you!!!
This month at SANCTUARY NYC we are dancing in the Spirit of Creation, of Re-Birth, and are using the metaphor of the poem as our frame.
 “You can’t rush a poem”is our theme…But you CAN get in sync with the Breath of Life, which creates the poem, and become part of the dance of creation.
As we feel the Spring greet us through the warm temperatures and in the chirping of the birds, I encourage you to contemplate your connection to the life force, to the Ruach..
You are a reality star…starring in your own life.
And each of us is called to use our unique gifts to circulate the blessing of life, to BE and SERVE our fellows…to Be the change we want to see- once we remember who we are.
You can’t keep it if you don’t give it away.
Have a great week, See you Sunday at 2 at West Park Presbyterian.
With love…breathing…,
Rev. Jane
  Image

‘There’s A Sw…

Aside

‘There’s A Sweet Sweet Spirit”
 

Dear SANCTUARY NYC,

 
Theme for March:
“You Can’t Rush A Poem”

 
So uh, this week the newsletter will be short and sweet:)
I am not sure if even I could make it through last week’s letter…but I hope somebody could.
I was trying to say that we are about to be celebrating some more holiday type stuff (Easter/Passover etc) and in an Inter-spiritual context that will be a new experience:)
But I said it a lot longer than that lol
 
We have been having such a sweet time at SANCTUARY NYC!!   Each week for the last month we have had some really special guest ..dance, music, story telling…
And it turns out this month is no different.
My sister friend, Rev. Raedorah Stewart will be joining us this Sunday to lead into Rev. Ingrid Scott’s message- with some of her fierce poetry- in collaboration with Jeremy and our musicians.
 
Rev. Raedorah C. Stewart (RevSisRaedorah) is currently a Candidate for Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbytery of the Pacific of the Presbyterian Church (USA) having served over 25 years as ordained clergy in the Baptist church.   She is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA; is a Passing the Mantle scholar of the University of Southern California’s Department of Religion and Civic Engagement.; serves on the Board of Directors of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California; and is Co-Chair of Queer Studies in Religion for WECSOR (the Western Region of the American Academy of Religion). Stewart serves the Body of Christ and All Creation as an itinerant preacher, community Bible Study teacher,  and scholar in the American Academy of Religion and in the Society of Biblical Literature.
 
This goes on and gets deeper, but all I can say is…we are blessed.
Both Rev. Raedorah and I will be attending the Vanderbilt University Womanism Conference at Union this weekend.
The founding mothers of that movement are gathering to both be honored and to present workshops.
 
AFTER SERVICE , as promised, we will be having a community gathering/meeting/Visioning.
We invite all of you who are part of this Inter-spiritual Movement called SANCTUARY NYC to join us to talk for a bit and to Catch the Vision.
We will have an exciting announcement to share, and a report from our conversations with West Park this week.
 
As the Prayer of Jabez reminds us “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man/woman what G-d has prepared…”
And so we listen…
Have a sweet week.
With love,
Rev. Jane
 Image