Category Archive: Blog

For Aretha Franklin

August 14, 2018
This has turned out to be a sacred night, as millions of souls are saying to others, “Did you hear that Aretha is dying?” There’s the quiet hush of a collective deathwatch, as we throw our prayers to God that they might be roses on her path. I once read that no matter how old you are, the music of your youth is the music of your soul. To say Aretha Franklin’s is the music of my soul is to vastly understate her effect upon my life. Hers was more than the music of my soul; she was in many ways the opener of my soul, a light on my path, a goddess who chanted what I could not chant and cooed what I could not coo and howled from the depths that I had not yet reached. How I remember, as a woman in my 20s, the sacred rite of opening a new Aretha album, putting it on the turntable and sitting for hours just listening. To this day, I know her phrases and notes, I have lived inside them, I remember the tears of both joy and sorrow for which they have been the soundtrack of my life. She opened me and guided me, she uplifted me and soothed me, she accompanied me and spoke for me. While I never met her, she was one of the loves of my life. To have even lived at a time when she was singing to us – for what more could anyone ask? And while I cry as I write this, it is not for her. Such preparations must be happening now, such trumpets and harps must be tuning up, such angels even now must be singing her home. How does one say thank you to such a soul as she?

Dear God,
Please bless your phenomenal daughter.
And thank you for lending her genius to us.
May she know the joy of a million smiles,
for such joy she gave to us.
Amen

Love Letter to the People of Hawaii

May 18, 2018

Dear People of Hawaii,

I know it must be frightening to live in Hawaii right now. I think of you constantly looking at the sky, checking the Internet for environmental updates, talking anxiously to friends and loved ones, telling tales and comforting your children.

I hope you realize how many of us, many miles away from you, are thinking of you as you do .

So many forces are coming up to the surface from the bottom of things, life shaking at its core, exploding with the fierce intentionality of nature. I know many of you realize Hawaii is taking a hit for all of us.

Why Hawaii? I think because Hawaii can take it.

Unknown perhaps by the media and unnoticed perhaps by many, I have no doubt how many Hawaiians are treating this occasion with reverence, weaving around it an invisible, sacred container. Honoring the Mother, respecting her as she screams, feeling the deep and archetypal messages that erupt from the soul of humanity as they erupt from the center of the earth.

Beyond the level of material science, so many ancient powers are being summoned now: through dance, through song, through prayers, through ceremony, through individual and group meditations. I see the Islands of Hawaii surrounded by extraordinary powers both unleashed and summoned by the volcanic eruptions. And every soul either native to Hawaii, or called to Hawaii, is feeling the multi-dimensional forces at work as the earth transforms itself and humanity is carried up in its thrall.

Hawaii, they say, is the heart chakra of the earth. Hers is the heartbeat not only of earth’s Mother but of all her children. She is speaking, and those with ears to hear are listening.

Dear Hawaiian brothers and sisters, those of you holding the space for the earth to do what the earth needs to do — through prayers and ritual and love — please know how many of us know that you are doing it for all of us. And we thank you.

We stand in attention and we bear witness, as you endure and navigate this stupendous hour. We know how much more is going on than is visible on our TV screens.

We salute you.
We pray for you.
We love you.
We are with you.
Carry us in your hearts with us,
as we are carrying you in ours.

May God walk with you.
May He bless you and protect you
And the earth on which you live.
Amen

xo
Marianne

The Heart Just Wants to Go Home

December 28, 2017

The problem with the world is that we’ve lost our sense of reverence — for life, for love, for the earth, for each other, for our families, for God’s universe. We’ve lost a sense of responsibility to anything other than to ourselves, acting too often as though there’s no higher good to strive for than the satisfaction of our own desires. A consumer-driven culture exalts the idea that we can have whatever it is we want, yet that very idea seems to push farther and farther away those things that are what we really want. For what we really want, whether we know it or not, is to love and be loved. Not just to get, but to connect. Not just to participate in our own individual dramas, but to be part of a larger cause, a larger mission, a larger life than just our own.

It’s hard to push against the prevailing winds of self-centeredness today because they usually pose as something other than what they are. But somehow we’ve got to realign ourselves, and realign our culture, with the simple things that make life worth living. Too much speed, too much technology are robbing us of our life force. We have got to head back home, or we will be lost in the forrest of this suddenly all too complicated world. There is more wisdom in the silence than in the chatter, and more hope in the heart than in externalities. The mind wants this or that, but the heart just wants to go home…

Preparing for 2018

October 18, 2017

I’ve been thinking about the year head. We have 2 1/2 months before it’s upon us, but there are a lot of things we can be sure of already.

There is no way 2018 won’t be a dramatic one. After all the stress of 2017, it would be nice to think we could have a rest. But there is no way next year is going to be restful. Politically, socially and environmentally, too much is already set up, too many questions will finally be answered, too many stress points will beg to be handled one way or the other.

But life is never just about what happens to us; it’s about who we choose to be in going through the experience. It serves us to start thinking now about who we are going to be in 2018.

Today’s Zeitgeist does not center around the drama of any of us so much as all of us. It’s not just our personal but our collective story that is playing out now, and our greatest power lies in imagining ourselves stepping up to the plate and playing our part in a great and glorious planetary renewal that is begging to occur.

It will either be that, or God help us…

If you think 2017 was hard, 2018 is going to be a doozy. A nation of wounded birds will not be able to handle this; a gargantuan swath of people for whom words like courage, contribution and responsibility mean nothing will not be able to handle the stress. Everything that’s happened till now has simply been rehearsal for the time that is just ahead.

This will not be a time for sissies. It will not be a time for whiners. It will not be a time in which any of us will be able to indulge the weaker, softer underbellies of our personality. Our communities, our country, and our world will need us to be strong and amazing and devoted and creative in ways we have never been before. And we are more ready to do that than we know, not because of anything we ourselves can take personal credit for but because of Who is alive in all of us.

We might not feel ready, but God is always ready. Inwardly, it is time to move aside now and let Him drive. There is no way that you or I, with our puny little personalities, will be able to handle the drama in 2018. But God can and will, as long as we prepare ourselves and surrender ourselves that He might use us on His behalf. The mortal mind got us into this mess, but the mortal mind can’t get us out of it.

This line from A Course in Miracles comes to mind: “Do not be concerned about your own readiness. Just be consistently aware of mine.” You might want to hold onto that. We are coming upon a time that will once again be a time that tries men’s souls. But make no mistake about it, at the deepest level we can handle this. At the deepest level, we are ready for this. And with God’s help, we got this.

Horror in Las Vegas

October 2, 2017

Let us not distract ourselves from the horror of what has happened here. For the 59 who are dead, remember all the parents who have to tell their children that Mommy or Daddy won’t be coming home again, or the grieving lovers and spouses and parent and friends who cannot bear the agony they are going through now. Let us not distract ourselves from thinking about the hundreds, 500 plus, in pain, some now even fighting for their lives. Let us not forget the police and other first responders, the doctors and nurses who have been heroes dealing with this, absolute heroes, confronting a scene of carnage even they were unprepared for. May they all be blessed. May the hand of God be upon them and comfort them in their desperate hour.

And let us not give in to those who say we should not politicize this, that tonight is not the night, and whatever else they’ll say to distract us from the work to be done. As Jesus overthrew the tables of the money-changers, let us now do the same … and say to those who for the sake of money refuse to allow the things that yes we CAN do … to close the loopholes, to check the backgrounds, to mitigate the risks. NRA, you know who you are. You do not exist to protect the 2nd Amendment; you exist to protect the billions of dollars made by gun manufacturers. We see you, and we know who you are. Politicians who do their bidding, you know who you are…and so do we. Tonight, we will not distract ourselves from this horror. And tomorrow, we will not distract ourselves from the work that it is ours, as citizens, to do. We will not forget this. Enough is enough.

As of tonight, with God’s help, things will finally change. Amen.

Our National Identity

September 30, 2017

Whether as a person or a nation, the question “Who am I?” needs to precede the question “What should I do?”; we cannot know what we should do until we know who we really are. Our principles, values, and deep identity are the guiding principles of wise and right action. Without them we are flying blind, lost in the spiritual darkness of mere self-centered pursuit.

The United States used to know who we were, even though we have never yet fully embodied the truth of it. We are the home of the brave, endowed by God with the blessings of liberty and justice. And where this has not been true – as in slavery, and the oppression of women, and injustice towards Native Americans, and legalized white supremacy – we understood as a nation that it was our job to fix that. For that is who we are.

But something has gone terribly wrong over the last 40 years, and it does not serve us to gloss over this. We have sold our identity to the highest bidders, sacrificing our sense of national purpose. We have forgotten our deep identity and the mission, passed along generation after generation, to preserve it. We became distracted by ultimately meaningless things.

How could it be otherwise, given our lack of commitment to teach civics to all our children (how could they know what we have failed to teach them)? How could it be otherwise, given the increasingly undue influence of money on our politics? How could it be otherwise, given that so many of us left politics to other people to handle?

Sometimes we become clear about who we are in part by getting clear about who we are not. We are not only a Christian nation, for instance; we are a religiously pluralistic nation. Our Founders said so and we need to keep it that way.

We are not a nation where might makes right; we are a nation where truth and justice make right. Our Founders said so and we need to keep it that way.

We are not a nation where only some are entitled to the gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; we are a nation where God himself has granted all of us those inalienable rights. Our Founders said so and we need to keep it that way.

Only when we remember who we are as a nation can we have a clear sense of what we are to do. America has a promise to keep, not only to ourselves but to the ages. Here, on this land, we will honor the democratic principles that ensure all men and women the right to be free, to create our own destiny, actualizing according to the dictates of our own conscience and the work of our own hands the life we choose to manifest. Any force, either external or internal, that would seek to limit our capacity to do that is a threat not only to us but to our historic charge. Part of our deep identity is not only our freedom but our commitment to that freedom; not only our democracy but our willingness to sacrifice for our democracy; not only our sacred first principles but our fealty to those principles particularly when they are under threat.

Today they are under threat and it is time for us to show who we are. We must push back those threats, stand up to those threats, and dismantle those threats. It is true that they are fierce, but when we remember who we are and why we are here then so are we. Now, as has been true since our founding almost two and a half centuries ago, there is a sense that something bigger is at stake here than simply our own desires. These are disturbing times for America’s soul, and for America’s politics, but the light at the center of who we really are and our sense of political purpose will yet prevail.

Politics From the Inside Out

September 29, 2017

I think of traditional politicians as political mechanics. And some of them are very good ones too. But the problem is that society is not a machine, with parts that can just be tinkered with to make things right. Tinkering with a bill here, tinkering with another kind of legislation there — these are all external remedies, but our biggest problems are not external. External problems are just symptoms, and just treating the symptom doesn’t treat the disease.

Jobs, for instance….Politicians keep saying that people want jobs. Well of course they do. But that’s just the problem that shows on the outside. What people are living with, in their hearts, late at night when they live with little but their own thoughts, is a level of chronic economic despair that simply getting a job doesn’t totally stave off. Economic despair isn’t due only to the fact that someone doesn’t have a job. Even when you have a job, so little feels secure today. The fear is still with you, whether it’s a fear of not having a job or fear that you’re going to lose the one you have.. It’s due to the fact that someone doesn’t have health care, and doesn’t know what they would do if they got sick. It’s due to the fact that someone doesn’t know how they will pay for their kids to go to college, or how they themselves will pay off their college loans. It’s due to the fact that huge conglomerates and billionaires seem to hold all the power today, power even over our government, so that more and more the average person feels squeezed out of the mainstream and into a pool of ultimate insignificance. And this makes people unhappy; how could it not? Unhappy people grow weary, and weary people are too tired to fight off the accumulated assaults on both body and soul that are with us all the time today.

That’s not something a mechanic can fix. Our political mechanics are part of a system that has brought us to where we are today. Given the state of the world, I don’t see how anyone totally adept at our political system has too much to brag about. We need more than political car mechanics in Washington. What we need is a new car, and what we need more than anything else is a deeper understanding of the people who are in it.

We need a politics from the inside out. You can’t change anything only by changing things on the outside… Not a business, not a relationship, not an organization, not a life. Only temporary change can happen that way. What we need now is a renewed conversation about what it means to be human, in our politics as much as everywhere else. That’s what our Founders were talking about. How we are created equal. How we have inalienable rights, not just because we are entitled brats who want what we want but because we are given those rights by God. How it is the natural state of humanity to be free of tyranny, political or economic or any other kind. How to establish a society that honors those things. We have strayed from the important existential questions of life, and that is why our politics are sick. They do not speak either to our depths or from our depths. They are shallow and selfish and greedy and corrupted. They do not display the purity of heart that is the truth of who we are as people. Until that changes, our country will continue on a perilous course. But when that changes, we will begin to heal in the twinkling of an eye.

The Conscience of Society

September 26, 2017

At a Saturday morning service many years ago, when I was about 14 years old, I heard our Rabbi speak out against the Viet Nam War. I remember how exhilarating it was to me — how for the first time I experienced the moral authority of the religious pulpit, how for the first time religion was really relevant to me. Then several days later I heard my mother remark to my father at dinner, “I hear people are really upset with Rabbi Malev for talking about the war last Saturday.” It was the first time I understood the pressure religious leaders are under to support the status quo, to not upset the apple cart, to go along with what their congregation wants at any particular time. But Jesus himself upset the apple cart when he overthrew the tables of the money-changers. I think spiritual and religious leadership is supposed to be the conscience of a society, answerable not to other people’s projections (particularly as in today, when the projection is often that spiritual means just going along with anything in the name of being “nonjudgmental” and submissive in the name of being “loving”). I’m going to go along with Rabbi Malev at Beth Yeshurun in Houston and Rabbi Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem. I’m going to remember my ancestors who were thrown in ovens because too few spoke up while there was still a chance. I’m going to cry out with millions of others crying out that humanity has lost its mind and must reclaim its heart. I will do so with tremendous thanks in my heart, that as an American I have the RIGHT to do so. Thank you, Rabbi Malev and thank you, Jesus. Both of you showed the way.

The Seasons of Love

September 25, 2017

Relationships, even and perhaps particularly intimate ones, go through seasons: summer, autumn, winter and spring. One of the mistakes we make with relationships that we would never make with the weather is impatience with the seasons. As hot as the summer might be, leaves will begin to fall off the trees come autumn. And as painfully cold as winter might feel, the seeds of spring lie underneath the ground and will blossom when they are supposed to. We have faith in the weather, and we should similarly have faith in love. Relationships are never over; they who are brought together by God are held in His hands as one until the spring arrives. Do not bemoan either autumn or winter, for they are inevitable. And spring, when it does come, is even more glorious when following the chill and the seemingly barren landscape of cold and bitter winter months. Be patient then with the seasons of love, and your heart will hurt no more.

The Debate Is Over

September 12, 2017

Climate change deniers, primarily working at the behest of the fossil fuel industry, have slowed down progress in an area of vital importance to the health and well-being of millions of American citizens. While they represent a tiny fraction of the scientific community, unfortunately they continue to be represented in government by a much larger percentage of politicians.

Yet climate change denial is now moving irretrievably into the dustbin of history’s worst ideas. With the latest examples of monstrous weather phenomena, climate change denial is finally being exposed for the dangerous folly that it is. Its day – and its sway over America– is over. America must now embark upon a massive effort to combat the effects not only of catastrophic weather conditions, but also the effects of climate change denial on our environmental and political policies.

The American people are being vastly underserved, both by America’s rejection of the Paris climate accord and by the appointment of a climate change denier, Scott Pruitt, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency, although created by Republican President Richard Nixon and with a legacy of forward-thinking environmental policy, has become under Pruitt an actual enemy of environmental protection. I am aligned with the vast majority of American citizens in vigorously and passionately defending the health of our environment against the ill-advised, dangerously recalcitrant policies of Mr. Pruitt and the political forces he represents. We will not stand idly by while millions of Americans suffer the effects of extreme weather conditions, when the vast majority of scientists both in America and throughout world have established beyond a reasonable doubt that these conditions are exacerbated by human behavior. America should always be on the side of progress. Feigning doubt about climate change, pretending the issue is still open to question, is simply dangerous and disingenuous political propaganda. It has lost the debate among the majority of American citizens and for good reason. We should reject the criminal negligence of those who for financial purposes now wage a dangerous assault upon our environment, and stand in full alliance with those who see the protection of our environment, and the combating of climate change, as a sacred responsibility to ourselves, our children and our children’s children.

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