Tree of Life

Last night, my family and I attended Shabbat services at a local temple to be with our Jewish brothers and sisters on the first Sabbath following the shootings at the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh. It was far from a “normal” service not only because of the weight of what has been upon those grieving but also because the temple had previously scheduled having a bluegrass group called Nefesh Mountain coming to lead the music in the service. As the senior rabbi shared early in the service, we were gathered there that night knowing that we will likely not find understanding to our question of why but working together to find meaning in what will go forward from here. A theme in the service came out of an idea from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel who said that there are three ways to mourn – to cry, to be silent, and to transform our sorrow into song. So that was what we did last night. We took in the gifts of music from Nefesh Mountain and we joined our voices together. It was profound, powerful, and transformative.

One of the most significant parts for me was a song that the band wrote this week remembering the Tree of Life shootings. Here is a link to the recording I did as they sang and here are the lyrics…

O sweet spirit
Hear my prayer
Help these words
Heal someone, out there

I am but a voice
Just a cry in the air
But I sing nonetheless
Through this pain we share

O sweet spirit
Hear my prayer
Help these words
Heal someone, out there

I am but a voice
Just a cry in the air
But I sing nonetheless
Through this pain we share

O sweet souls
Who feel broken now
We’ll heal together
Somewhere, somehow

Time and again
We have been let down
But we sing nonetheless
Still whole and still proud

There was so much more to what we experienced last night but it was a healing time for everyone to be there together – Jews, Christians, Muslims, people of other faiths, and people of no chosen faith. As we came to the close of the service, they led us in a song called Adonai Love Me but they brought the congregation into adding words that spoke to where each of us were and we closed all of us together singing “Adonai Unify Us” as we were linked arm in arm.

My picture came from early this morning as I was taking two of my kids to a soccer game on a crazy foggy morning. I saw the sun shining through both the fog and the trees and it spoke to me of this place we find ourselves seeing what we can be in love and in unity but also plenty of fog that can obscure. But there is the light of God that shines through both – the light that illuminates the tree of life and the light that burns away the fog.

Adonai Love Me – https://youtu.be/IWo6FfJ9YE4

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