On Devotion and Higher Love

NewShul20141This year I had a moment to address the congregation of the New Shul for Yom Kippur, on the subject of devotion. After making several pages of notes, the night before the service on the Day of Atonement, I suddenly found myself writing and writing – a poem, a long spoken-word prayer.

He told us to walk into this awake, and to listen with love.

So we take to walking inward, or is it Above? Toward the antidote, for this longing we feel for wholeness, devotedness.
But are we, these sacred beings, really created with an absence?
Or are we just beginning to realize that The magical Source and primary Cause
of unshakable devotion is really just a question?

Who Am I?
And then just beneath that answer,
Who am I now?
And would it be wrong to ask of my God, Can You show me how?

How can I see myself as the light I really am?
And how can I travel to someplace beyond the shame?
And if you’re asking us to be
a burning tree of Love and Devotion,
perhaps you can show us how to make the most of this?

Or are you just here to bear witness and
gently push these Seekers toward an answer?

Well, I’ve asked, and we’re all asking.
And I’ve discovered someone beneath all of that.
She’s a part of it, she’s listening, and she’s seeing what’s around.
And she knows in her soul that this is definitely the sound of sweetness, and of landing, and of knowing where we’re standing.

Rabbi Zach’s Grandpa Joe succinctly said it all;
“You gotta look up, and you gotta look down.”
And i’m beginning to see we can CHOOSE when we’re lost,
and choose when we’re found. We can choose devotion as an attitude,
as a practice, so that every little glance might be a radical act of kindness,
of giving, of loving, and of listening. 

Today we listen with this whole being.
We quietly ask to see what we’re not seeing.
Shema Yisrael, Hear this, all who ask.
Dancing and singing are our primary tasks, as are
loving, and forgiving, and resting, and living.

Adonai Eloheinu with love in our hearts
we are grateful, for every single fresh start
and today, as we explore the holiest of spaces,
into the Arc, into the Self, into all the ways in which I hurt only myself,
I say, I am ready. We are ready. The world is needing our medicine.

So can we soften ourselves in a new way, and begin to usher the blessings in?
Can we really welcome the differences
and give our cells a life of respect, of latitude, of asking?
I know I choose my attitude, right now, and again now.
Adonai Echad, the One that is the One,
May we thank you for this sound 
of secrets being released, and of nakedness, and attention,
of Devotion, of Knowing, 
of Higher Love, 
and Quiet Reverence. 

5 thoughts on “On Devotion and Higher Love”

  1. Dear Elena,
    I have been following your classes on yogaglo for a few years now. This poem you’ve written is stunning. I love how you have incorporated the Hebrew prayer, the “Shema” into your poem. I haven’t encountered another yoga teacher yet besides you who has offered her Bhakti practice in concordance with her Jewish identity. Given the ontological challenges many Jews are making to Zionism and sometimes their entire Jewish identity these days, I am grateful for your devotion and for your fearlessness. I used to chant the Shema to my students many years ago, but received contentious feedback, so I stopped. Thank you for inspiring me once again. I am grateful for your offerings.

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