Spiritual Progressives need to take time away from dealing with the craziness of politics and economics on our planet, and even from the huge amount of suffering caused by those systems and the way the values of selfishness and materialism get internalized into the consciousness of so many of us, and just celebrate the amazing reality of this universe!!
The NY Times story below reports that “Astronomers reported that there could be as many as 40 billion habitable Earth-size planets in the galaxy, based on a new analysis of data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft” While there is no proof that intelligent life exists on any of those planets (and some doubt that it exists on our planet too, though my golden labradoodle doggie Chamoodie seems pretty intelligent to me) it is not implausible to believe that some of them may have life like ours, and that we humans may not be alone in this universe.
One reason to create a “Sabbath” for yourself once a week is to give yourself time to focus on the celebration of the universe. Many Jews do it for 25 hours from just before dark on Friday night till 3 stars appear on Saturday night, and mix our focus on the awe and wonder at the universe of which human beings are an intrinsic part with
a. remembering and celebrating our liberation from slavery and the corresponding obligation to spread the message that the world can be fundamentally healed and transformed because it is created and governed by a Force of liberation and love, transformation and generosity, and
b. following the Jewish tradition which commands us to seek pleasure on the Sabbath with spiritual inwardness, meditation, prayer, singing, community, and joy in food and loving-sexuality, becuse Judaism is a pro-pleasure religion. As I tell my congregation on Friday nights when we go outside to look at the stars and we visualize ourselves in this larger universe in which the scientists tell us there may be as much as 200 billion galaxies, most of the Hebrew words in the prayers in the traditional Jewish evening service that many of our members, not knowing Hebrew, may not understand, boil down to three words about the universe: WOW, FANTASTIC, AMAZING! Praying those three words with all one’s heart is the way to get into Shabbat!
Of course you don’t have to be Jewish or religious or even describe yourself as “spiritual” to have this practice become a central part of your life. Give yourself the gift of one day a week dedicated totally to celebrating and rejoicing in being alive at this moment and for having the capacity to take in whatever we can take in of the immensity, beauty, complexity, and loving energy of this incredible universe!! And please share this message on your Facebook and other social media and to your email lists and paste on your website as a reminder to you and all who you know of one thing to celebrate every day, and one full day a week, and of course on this coming Thanksgiving!!!
And if you ever happen to be on the West Coast, check my synagogue’s website www.beyttikkun.org to see if you can come celebrate a Shabbat gathering with us (this Saturday, Torah study in San Francisco, the following week Friday night service I’m leading in Bellingham, Washington). In any event, celebrating the wonders of this universe is a regular feature of many Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and other religious and spiritual traditions. And giving yourself this gift of one day of sabbath will nurture you soul in ways that potentially make you even stronger to engage in the necessary spiritual/political struggles to overcome the values of global capitalism that are leading to the destruction of the life-support systems of our planet.
–Rabbi Michael Lerner, chair, the (interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming) Network of Spiritual Progressives www.spiritualprogressives.org and editor of the magazine of spiritual progressives Tikkun www.tikkun.org RabbiLerner.Tikkun@gmail.com