This Summer: "Prayer as if Earth Really Matters"

This summer I will be weaving a course, a conversation,  called “Prayer as if the Earth Really Matters.”  That conversation will be part of the gathering called Ruach HaAretz (“Breathing-Spirit of the Earth”) that will take place at the Stony Point retreat center an hour north of New York City, from July 10 to 16.

 You can see what this gathering will be like, and register to come,  by clicking to

<https://aleph.org/ruach-ha-aretz-2017>.

Our question will be: How do we make prayer and chant, sacred practices, and holy texts matter so as to heal our common home?

I welcome to this course spiritual seekers of all traditions who are committed to healing our wounded Mother Earth from global scorching and the climate crisis.

An equally truthful title for the course would be “Earth as if Prayer Really Matters.” Suppose prayer and chant and sacred stories were at the heart of our concern for Earth as they were half a century ago for the civil-rights movement. Would that change how we envision that Earth and Human Earthlings should live together?  How would we choose the policies we urge, the actions we take?

The Water Protectors at Standing Rock pointed the way. Perhaps the most profoundly powerful energy for protection of the Earth and of us human beings is a deep spiritual connection with the Earth embodied in prayer, dance, the chanting of stories and teachings –- some ancient, some utterly new.

The well-known data that show more and more young Americans are walking away from churches and synagogues does not mean they are walking away from religious and spiritual experience, as their response to Standing Rock shows.

They are walking away from boring automatic pretenses of religious experience.

They are walking away from reading an ancient biblical text about the urgency of letting the earth rest as if it were a dusty archive, rather than a prophetic outcry to our own generation.

But they are not walking away from the Breathing Spirit of the world, the Wind of Sacred Change. I have myself seen the young activists of Occupy Wall Street, who would not step into a church or synagogue, be deeply moved by a religious service organically created on the spot by Elders from the 1960s who had no prayer books but knew how to chant and cry, to sing and testify – – to pray.

So we will pursue ways to draw authentically on the deepest aspects of our varied traditions to empower the work we all need to do to heal our Mother Earth from the global scorching and the climate crisis that an overload of CO2 and methane have forced upon her.

To heal, not merely to survive.

So I especially invite you to join with us at Ruach HaAretz to truly experience the Breathing Spirit of the Earth, and to join with me in weaving this first course in "Prayer as if the Earth Really Matters," this first exploration of "The Earth as if Prayer Really Matters."

As Ruach Ha’Aretz gathers in 2017, we hear the Spirit of the Earth calling us, in the words of the Jewish prayer “Aleynu,” L’takken olam b’malkhut Shaddai – To heal the world through the majesty of Nurture.”

Embodying the Spirit of the Earth / Ruach Ha’Aretz, we meet this challenge to heal by exploring ways, old and new, to express wonder, celebration, joy and awe; to understand, to sing and to dance Torah anew; to connect deeply with varied cultures; and to actively give birth to social change.

Join us for a week-long retreat featuring classes with extraordinary teachers, musicians, and artists from Jewish and other faith traditions offering opportunities to learn about, experience, practice and question the path of healing ourselves and our world.

We will be gathering at a retreat center that embodies in its own staff and projects the kind of multireligious exploration we seek. At Stony Point there is a Community of Living Traditions that brings together Jews, Christians, and Muslims to learn with each other and to farm together.

You can see what this gathering will be like, and register to come,  by clicking to

<https://aleph.org/ruach-ha-aretz-2017>. Although I will certainly be drawing on my own experience in Transformative Judaism, we will weave together the threads and strands of our different communities into a sacred fabric that embodies "deep ecumenism."

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