Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Moment of Joy

In my creative writing class with Ellen Weed, in the 4th week, we were assigned to write a piece about our most joyous experience.  It posed a problem because which of several joyous experiences should I choose, and what exactly does she mean by "joy?"  Most people feel joy when they look at their newborn baby or the day they get married.  Those didn't jump out at me as one of the most joyous experiences of my life.  Every time I speak to my centenarian mother on the phone and she tells me she loves me, I feel joy, but only a small joy.  What were the most joyous experiences I can remember?

There was that time my slave Master kicked me out and told me I was now free in the middle of India.  But too many of my stories took place in India over 4 decades ago; aren't there any more recent?  One divine afternoon of sexual union in the shower was certainly one of the memorable and more recent joyous experience, but X rated was not appropriate for this class.  So I thought about the several times that I have been touched by Grace, and decided to work up a piece on the joy of being filled with God's Grace. 

Here it is:

A Moment of Joy
As a Jew, the holiday of Yom Kippur has had great meaning for me.  It is the one day each year that Jews come face to face with our Creator to be forgiven.  Elul is not only the name of the month before Yom Kippur in which Jews practice many forms of ritual forgiveness and charity, but also the name of the process of purification.  We recall all our unskillful words and deeds of the last year and spend a month and then a week forgiving ourselves and letting them all go in preparation for the big day.  We beg forgiveness of others, and forgive them for trespassing against us.  On the day of Yom Kippur, we fast as we spend the day with our congregation turning and returning to the One. 
After a month, and then a week, and then a day of sacred fasting, we prepare ourselves to be face to face with HaShem.  As the day of purifying rituals moves along, we reach the culmination.  We bow down to YHVH in full prostration. During the first prostration, we culminate the period of purification by begging forgiveness for ourselves, and then we forgive ourselves of our sins.  On the second full prostration, we forgive our neighbors, relatives, community for the unskillful words and actions they have done toward myself and toward others.  Included in the 2nd prostration is begging God’s forgiveness for the State of Israel and what they are doing to the Palestinians, and for fomenting war profiteering around the world.
On the third prostration, we have to forgive every murderer and despot in history.  I recall working hard to forgive Hitler, Bush, Cheney, Idi Amin, the instigators of China’s Cultural Revolution, David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan, Queen Isabella, and every other genocidal maniac that we recall from history.  Hardest, of course, is forgiving the man who killed my daughter. 
Part of the process is to make oneself empty and receptive to God’s Grace.  As my face presses on the floor in full prostration, if I have been effective in the forgiveness exercises, I will be taken over with such a passion that I wail and sob while tears stream out of my eyes.  These are not tears of anguish or despair.  These tears are for the release of hate, resentment, blame and injustice.  These are the tears that flow when I am touched by the finger of the Creator and filled with her Grace. 
A few years ago, Yom Kippur fell on the same day as the Mendocino Environmental Center big street fair fundraiser.  I was able to get there in time to hear Clan Dyken, the last band of the lineup.  I arrived directly from the break fast terminating Yom Kippur.  I had culminated a month, a week, and a day of purification, and had just finished forgiving every murderer in history.  I felt spent.  I didn’t feel like dancing.  I sat on a hay bale wrapped in my meditation shawl and listened to the band sing “Imagine” by John Lennon.  I began to imagine all the people living life in peace, and then it happened. 
I was using my skills at sending lovingkindness around the world, but instead I was sending Peace all around the world.  My inner being emptied out and was filled with a rush of rainbow light.  There was a pillar of rainbow light coming down from heaven on the whole scene and exchanging energy and going back up again.  With each breath, I amped it up and focused that rainbow light and spread it enveloping the entire planet.  The sense of thrill and joy as I focused the rainbow light passing through my empty conduit up and down and all around the Earth was overwhelming.  Once again, touched by Grace, I sobbed uncontrollably with tears of utter joy. 

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