I have been, like so many, absorbed these past days with coverage of the murders in Orlando. It is, in every respect, overwhelming. It produces so many emotions in us; from fear to anger, to helplessness and, at times, hopelessness. Dozens of congregation have included prayers, held vigils and reached out to be supportive. Yet, those feelings remain. The “why” and “how did this happen” questions are still there. I will leave the political ramifications to the politicians. They are secure in their positions of power and, at the risk of being too cynical, will lament and offer condolences; but, in the end, it will be business as usual. But, for most of us, those “why” questions will haunt us. There are no easy answers. But, at times like this, we do reach out to be in community, for in community we draw a sense of strength. And there is a sense of comfort that is drawn from prayers, prayers that really serve a purpose to renew our own inner resolve to be strong and not lose faith in our self and humanity, despite this sad reality. So, here is a small sampling of meditations, drawn from a variety of sources. I offer them to you in hope that, in reading them, they may provide some sense of comfort and serve to fortify your soul and self in these so difficult moments.
Take My Hand:
When all seems dark and the farkness is harsh………Take my hand.
When I cannot see light even in the brightest day……Give me your hand.
WHen I am tired and every breath is heavy…………..Take my hand.
When my words do not grasp the depth of yearning in my soul…..Give me your hand.
When my feelings are overwhelming or dulled………….Take my hand.
When I am confused and don’t know what to do…………Give me your hand.
So that we may be together…………………………Take my hand.
(“Where Healing Resides”: CCAR Press. 2013. p. 15)
A Prayer For Strength.
O God, our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble,
how much I need Your strength and presence in my life right now.
I feel weak, depressed, anxious, even frightened.
I need help to face these hours and days.
So I claim Your promises that I can bear whatever comes,
that Your strength will be sufficient, and that my despair will give way to Your peace that passes
(“The Mitzvah of Healing”: WOmen of Reform Judaism/URJ. p. 131)
You are with us in our prayer, in our live and our doubt, in our longing to feel Your presence and to do Your will. You are the still, clear voice within us. Therefore, O God, when doubt troubles us, when anxiety makes us tremble, and pain clouds the mind, we look inward for the answers to our prayers. There may we find You, and there find courage, insight, and endurance. And let our worship bring us closer to one another, that all Israel and all who seek You, may find strength for Your service.
(“Gates of Prayer”: CCAR Press. 1975. p.155)
A Tree Torn.
As a tree torn from the soil, as a river separated from its source, the human soul wanes when detached from what is greater than itself. Without the holy; the good turns chaotic, beauty becomes accidental.
(Abraham Joshua Heschel)
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.