A Contemplative Amidah

Rabbi Weinberg takes us through each paragraph of the Amidah, offering windows through which we can pray contemplatively.

Resting in my spiritual tradition,      I recall with love these names:      Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, Rachel, Leah, Bilhah,          Zilpah      Abiding with me in the infinite vastness of consciousness.      With unimpeded vulnerability      I immerse in their love everlasting.      May I feel safe and protected.      May I feel blessed with compassion that forever shelters      All generations.

      Essential hope for transformation      From death, dullness, constriction, fear, hierarchy, separation      To life, trust, openness, release, love, unity, justice      Flowing like a mighty river.      From on our knees to standing tall, from sick to healed,      From bound to free.      The power of transformation endures.      The power of transformation is faithful.      The power of transformation is part of our nature.      May it flow.

           What is the path of wisdom?           To step back           Releasing the limited, conditioned, reactive cycles of               thought.           To turn with grace           Toward primordial awareness,           Toward the breath of life.           To become close, intimate           With the sacred work,           Reuniting parts with the whole.

           What is forgiveness?           Who forgives?           Endless, gracious awareness bestows forgiveness           Without effort.           Again, and again           Our suffering is seen. Our suffering is held.           In the might of its vastness,           In the power of its emptiness.           It has no name.

           May we know this earth as our blessing.           She is our mother.           She feeds us with her goodness.           May we cherish her every day.

           Sound the great Shofar           For freedom.           May oppression be toppled.           May our leaders be wise and honest.           May they embody the Divine qualities of love, compassion             and justice.

           May greed, hatred and delusion be revealed for what they             are.           May they dissolve from their own noxious fumes           In the open clarity of the endless sky.           May they no longer find a shelter in our hearts, words or            deeds.

           Return compassion to Jerusalem           And to all divided cities, to all warring nations.           Help us find eternity in hands holding hands           Rather than in walls           That sunder and divide.

           For those of us who wish for better days           May we know safety in this very day.           May we see compassion flower           And love embrace doubt and fear.

           What power listens to our prayers?           What kind of hearing receives our laments and cries?           What presence never turns us away,           But allows the great emptiness to fill our souls?

           We long to return to a fullness we never knew           but still remember.           We long to be seen, known           And held in everlasting love,           in a flame that is not extinguished.

           May our eyes behold           All the exiles returning home

           Deeply grateful           We bow to this immense interconnected mystery,           The rock of our life, the shield of our safety,           From generation to generation.           We are grateful for this life which we do not possess.           We are grateful for this awareness which we do not own.           We are grateful for the daily miracles and wonders that              arise and pass.           Our eyes behold them!           Evening, morning and afternoon.           Compassionate presence is eternal;           Love is eternal.           Here we rest.           It is good.

           Taking refuge           For the sake of peace           In the expanse of space,           Primal awareness and unconfined compassion           Which is the deep nature           Of everyone’s mind           Taking refuge for the sake of           Goodness and blessing           Grace and lovingkindness.           This is our heritage as human beings.           This is the gift of this life.           This is everyone’s blessing.

           May we           See,           May we know,           May we sense,           May we take to heart.           May we remember           Amen

Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg served as a congregational rabbi for seventeen years. She has also worked in the fields of Jewish community relations, Jewish education and Hillel. She has published widely on such topics as feminism, spiritual direction, parenting, social justice and mindfulness from a Jewish perspective and has contributed commentaries to Kol HaNeshama, the Reconstructionist prayer book. Rabbi Weinberg has taught mindfulness meditation and yoga to rabbis, Jewish professionals and lay people in the context of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. She serves as a spiritual director to a variety of Jewish clergy including students and faculty at HUC-JIR in New York. She is creator and co-leader of the Jewish Mindfulness Teacher Training Program. She is married to Maynard Seider and they have three married children and six grandchildren.

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