ROSH HOSHANAH

Rosh Hashanah 2022 begins on Sunday, September 25, 2022 and ends on the evening of Tuesday, September 27, 2022. The date … varies every year, since it is based on the Hebrew Calendar, where it begins on the first day of the seventh month. Rosh Hashanah is almost always in September or October. 

How heavy something feels, depends on how long we hold onto it. — aish.com

… we also know Rosh Hashanah as hayom harat olam, the day the world is gestating, preparing to be born. Hayom harat olam celebrates Rosh Hashanah as the day God created the world, yet it also proclaims our own ability to create our lives anew in the new year. — My Jewish Learning, full article: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/rosh-hashanah-and-the-creativity-of-remembering/

… But Rosh Hashanah is not only festive; it is also a solemn time, a prelude to Yom Kippur, the Day of Judgment. Rosh Hashanah inaugurates the Days of Awe, ten days during which Jews reflect on their conduct, make amends for past wrongs, and set themselves to do better in the coming year. — My Jewish Learning, full article: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/symbols-of-rosh-hashanah/

SONGS about ROSH HASHANAH:

REFLECTIONS on LETTING GO:

Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down. ― Roy T. Bennett

The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward. ― Steve Maraboli

If you want to forget something or someone, never hate it, or never hate him/her. Everything and everyone that you hate is engraved upon your heart; if you want to let go of something, if you want to forget, you cannot hate. ― C. JoyBell C.

Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself. ― Deborah Reber Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
― Ann Landers 

There ain’t no way you can hold onto something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it. ― Kate DiCamillo

I realise there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go. ― Jeffrey McDaniel

SONGS about FORGIVENESS & LETTING GO:

PERFORM TASHLICH (Tossing stone or bread crumb into water):

  1. Find a pebble or bread crumb to cast away (preferably do this on the afternoon of the first of second full day of Rosh Hashanah)
  2. Walk or travel to a body of moving water that supports life (river, ocean or you can use water from a fawcett in a pinch)
  3. Spend time being taking stock, as you walk, about what you want to change about yourself in relation to the prior year (as measured on the Jewish calendar): obstacles, shortcomings, mistakes
  4. Share out loud or silently with Godself, when you arrive by the water, this desire for transformation and a new beginning, by unburdening yourself of the weight of the past (especially those aspects of yourself that you may affect, such as your shortfalls, sins, errors): this will be your prayer for change and renewal
  5. Focus on this scriptureMicah 7:19, He will take us back in love; He will cover up our iniquities. You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
  6. Toss the pebble or crumb into the water as a symbolic act of starting over, seeking God’s forgiveness and compassion, and also being kind to yourself with hope for transformation in the year to come

Here is how one resource describes the Tashlich ritual — pjlibrary.org

Tashlich, which literally translates to “casting off,” is a ceremony performed on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah. During this ceremony, Jews symbolically cast off the sins of the previous year by tossing pebbles or bread crumbs into flowing water. During this ritual, people think of things they’ve done wrong in the past year and then “throw them away,” promising for improvement in the coming year. — pjlibrary.org

ENTERING the NEW YEAR

From Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is known as Aseret Yemei Teshuvah … Ten Days of Return… when “the gates of heaven are open, and I will listen to your prayers.”

Maimonides explains: “Even though repentance and crying out to G‑d are always timely, during the ten days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur it is exceedingly appropriate, and accepted immediately [on high]… For these reasons, it is customary… to give profusely to charity, perform many good deeds, and be occupied with observance of G‑d’s commandments from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur to a greater extent than during the remainder of the year.’

Why is this period unique? Rabbi Shmuel Eliezer Edeles (Maharsha, 1555-1631) explains that our fate for the coming year is decided on Rosh Hashanah but not sealed until Yom Kippur. Accordingly, this is the time to return to G‑d and beg Him to change the judgment for the better.

Seek  Cathy Cohen
When young, I couldn’t reach you
through language.
I felt distant from your prayer book names
steeped in punishment, in law and judgment.
Instead, I sought you
in the quiet of the sanctuary, in chanting,
in families shoulder to shoulder.
I sought you in vowels,
in silent pause between words,
in breath.
Eheyeh asher eheyeh
shimmers
with the possible.
Eheyeh asher eheyeh
surround
of openness, forgiveness.
Here
a sense of your essence.

Head of the Year — Marge Piercy
The moon is dark tonight, a new
moon for a new year. It is
hollow and hungers to be full.
It is the black zero of beginning.
Now you must void yourself
of injuries, insults, incursions.
Go with empty hands to those
you have hurt and make amends.
It is not too late. It is early
and about to grow. Now
is the time to do what you
know you must and have feared
to begin. Your face is dark
too as you turn inward to face
yourself, the hidden twin of
all you must grow to be.
Forgive the dead year. Forgive
yourself. What will be wants
to push through your fingers.
The light you seek hides
in your belly. The light you
crave longs to stream from
your eyes. You are the moon
that will wax in new goodness.

Closing The Cycle ― Paulo Coelho 

One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through. Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters – whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that have finished.

Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did you leave your parents’ house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting friendship ended all of a sudden?

You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened. You can tell yourself you won’t take another step until you find out why certain things that were so important and so solid in your life have turned into dust, just like that. But such an attitude will be awfully stressing for everyone involved: your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your sister, everyone will be finishing chapters, turning over new leaves, getting on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a standstill.

None of us can be in the present and the past at the same time, not even when we try to understand the things that happen to us. What has passed will not return: we cannot for ever be children, late adolescents, sons that feel guilt or rancor towards our parents, lovers who day and night relive an affair with someone who has gone away and has not the least intention of coming back.

Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away. That is why it is so important (however painful it may be!) to destroy souvenirs, move, give lots of things away to orphanages, sell or donate the books you have at home. Everything in this visible world is a manifestation of the invisible world, of what is going on in our hearts – and getting rid of certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their place.

Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them. Nobody plays this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your love to be understood. Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.

Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, decisions that are always put off waiting for the “ideal moment.” Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never come back. Remember that there was a time when you could live without that thing or that person – nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need. This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important.

Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that no longer fits your life. Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust. Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.

Traditional poem read for Rosh Hashanah:

U­netanah Tokef
(for Rosh Hashanah – Jewish New Year)

We shall ascribe holiness to this day. 
For it is awesome and terrible. 
Your kingship is exalted upon it.
Your throne is established in mercy.
You are enthroned upon it in truth.
In truth You are the judge,
The exhorter, the all‑knowing, the witness,
He who inscribes and seals,
Remembering all that is forgotten.
You open the book of remembrance
Which proclaims itself,
And the seal of each person is there.
The great shofaris sounded,
A still small voice is heard.
The angels are dismayed,
They are seized by fear and trembling
As they proclaim: Behold the Day of Judgment!
For all the hosts of heaven are brought for judgment.
They shall not be guiltless in Your eyes
And all creatures shall parade before You as a troop.
As a shepherd herds his flock,
Causing his sheep to pass beneath his staff,
So do You cause to pass, count, and record,
Visiting the souls of all living,
Decreeing the length of their days,
Inscribing their judgment.
On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed,
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed.
How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,
Who shall live and who shall die,
Who shall reach the end of his days
and who shall not,

Who shall perish by water and who by fire,
Who by sword and who by wild beast,
Who by famine and who by thirst,
Who by earthquake and who by plague,
Who by strangulation and who by stoning,
Who shall have rest and who shall wander,
Who shall be at peace and who shall be pursued,
Who shall be at rest and who shall be tormented,
Who shall be exalted and who shall be brought low,
Who shall become rich and
who shall be impoverished. 

But repentance, prayer and righteousness
avert the severe decree.

For Your praise is in accordance with Your name. You are difficult to anger and easy to appease. For You do not desire the death of the condemned, but that he turn from his path and live. Until the day of his death You wait for him. Should he turn, You will receive him at once. In truth You are their Creator and You understand their inclination, for they are but flesh and blood. The origin of man is dust, his end is dust. He earns his bread by exertion and is like a broken shard, like dry grass, a withered flower, like a passing shadow and a vanishing cloud, like a breeze that blows away and dust that scatters, like a dream that flies away. But You are King, God who lives for all eternity! There is no limit to Your years, no end to the length of Your days, no measure to the hosts of Your glory, no understanding the meaning of Your Name. Your Name is fitting unto You and You are fitting unto it, and our name has been called by Your Name. Act for the sake of Your Name and sanctify Your Name through those who sanctity Your Name.

Welcome the Jewish New Year With These Rosh Hashanah Prayers — Kelsey Hurwitz, full article: https://www.womansday.com/life/a33276271/rosh-hashanah-prayers/

Four important prayers to recite on Rosh Hashanah, including the blessing over apples and honey.

Beginning at sundown on Sunday, September 25, 2022, Jews around the world will begin to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which ends at sundown on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. Rosh Hashanah literally translates to the “head of the year” in Hebrew and is considered a day for Jews to remember both the highs and lows of the past year, and look to how they may improve in the New Year. Reciting Rosh Hashanah prayers from the machzor (or prayer book used during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) is just one way to celebrate the Jewish Holiday.

Sounding a shofar (a ram’s horn), enjoying festive meals such as round challah bread and apples dipped in honey, and attending Torah readings at your local synagogue are other traditional rituals many Jewish families practice during the holiday. Whether you are planning a Rosh Hashanah meal for your family and friends, are looking for ways to celebrate the New Year at home, or want to learn more about Rosh Hashanah prayers, these four selections are a great place to start when it comes to welcoming the Jewish New Year.Candle lighting prayer

Lighting candles is a major part of all Jewish holidays. There are many reasons why candlelight is important in Jewish tradition, and a lot of it comes from the Torah. “The process of imposing order on chaos begins with the divine command, ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3),” said Ismar Schorsch, a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary. As you light candles this Rosh Hashanah, you can say the following prayer:

rosh hashanah prayers

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel (Shabbat v’shel) Yom Tov.

The English translation is: “Blessed are You, our God, Ruler of the world, who sanctifies us with mitzvot and calls upon us to kindle the lights of (Shabbat and) the Festival day.”Kiddush

The Kiddush is a blessing to sanctify the beginning of the holiday. It is said over a glass of wine or grape juice.

rosh hashanah prayers

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, borei p’ri hagafen.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher bachar banu mikol-am, v’rom’manu mikol-lashon, kid’shanu b’mitzvotav. Va-titen-lanu Adonai Eloheinu, b’ahavah et-yom ha-zikaron ha-zeh, yom T’ruah, mikrah kodesh, zacher li-tzi-at Mitrayim. Ki vanu vacharta, v’otanu kidashta, mikol haamim, ud’vrachah emet v’kayam la-ad. Baruch atah, Adonai, Melech al kol ha-aretz, mikadesh Yisrael v’yom hazikaron.

The English translation is:

“Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has chosen us from all the peoples, hallowing us with mitzvot. In Your love, Adonai our God, You have given us this Day of Remembrance, to hear the sound of the Shofar, to unite in worship, and to recall the Exodus from Egypt. For You have chosen us from all the peoples, consecrating us to Your service, and Your word is truth eternal. Praised is the Sovereign God, Sovereign of all the world, who hallows the House of Israel and the Day of Remembrance.”Shehecheyanu

The Shehecheyanu is a prayer that Jews say to mark special occasions. It is said on especially holy days, but it is also said as a celebration and thank you for blessings that occur in everyday life, such as the birth of a child, getting a new job, or achieving something you worked very hard for or didn’t think you could accomplish. As Rosh Hashanah is one of the holiest days on the Jewish calendar, it is an important time to say the Shehecheyanu.

rosh hashanah prayers

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

In English: “Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.”Blessing over apples and honey

On Rosh Hashanah, Jews eat apples dipped in honey to signify the sweet new year. If you’re enjoying the special new year treat, then you can say this two-part prayer before enjoying the sweet treat.

rosh hashanah prayer

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei p’ri ha-eitz.

In English: “We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the tree.”

rosh hashanah prayers

Y’hi ratzon milfanecha, Adonai Eloheinu v’Elohei
avoteinu v’imoteinu, shetchadesh aleinu shanah tovah um’tukah.

In English: “May it be Your will, Eternal our God, that this be a good and sweet year for us.”

Rosh Hashanah greetings

It’s certainly appropriate to wish someone celebrating Rosh Hashanah a happy and healthy New Year. You can also use the Hebrew greeting Shanah Tovah, which translates to, “For a good and sweet year.”

Whether you’re celebrating the High Holiday of Rosh Hashanah in a synagogue or at home this year, these prayers can provide comfort and celebration as you reflect on the past year and prepare to enter the new one. Shanah Tovah!

HISTORY of TASHLICH (full article: https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/rosh-hashanah-history)

On the first day of , Jews traditionally proceed to a body of running water, preferably one containing fish, and symbolically cast off their sins. The ceremony includes reading the source passage for the practice, the last verses from the prophet Micah(7:19), “He will take us back in love; He will cover up our iniquities. You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

Selections from Psalms, particularly Psalm 118 and Psalm 130, along with supplications and a kabbalisticprayer hoping God will treat Israel with mercy, are parts of Tashlich in various communities.

History of Tashlich

The custom developed around the 13th century and became widespread despite objections from rabbis who feared superstitious people would believe that tashlich, rather than the concerted effort ofteshuvah, had the power to change their lives. Religious leaders were particularly opposed to the practice of tossing bread crumbs, representing sins, into the water, and even shaking one’s garments to loosen any evil clinging to them was discouraged.

See the full text of the Tashlich prayer here.

Superstitious rites most likely did influence ceremony. Primitive people believed that the best way to win favor from evil spirits living in waterways was to give them gifts. Some peoples, including the Babylonian Jews, sent “sin‑filled” containers out into the water. (The
describes the practice of growing beans or peas for two or three weeks prior to the new year in a woven basket for each child in a family. In an early variation of the kaparot ritual, the basket, representing the child, was swung around the head seven times and then flung into the water.) Kurdistani Jews threw themselves into the water and swam around to be cleansed of their sins.

The Symbolism of Water

To make the practice symbolic rather than superstitious, the rabbis gave it ethical meaning. Through Midrash, they connected the water with the Akedah, the binding of Isaac. When Abraham was on his way to sacrifice Isaac, they said, Satan (which could be understood as the voice inside Abraham telling him not to kill his beloved son) tried to stop him. When Abraham refused to heed his voice, Satan became a raging river blocking Abraham’s way. Abraham proceeded nevertheless. When the water reached his neck and he called out for God’s help, the waters immediately subsided.

Water was also seen as symbolic of the creation of the world and of all life. Kings of Israel were crowned near springs, suggesting continuity, like the King of Kings’ unending sovereignty. Since the prophets Ezekiel and Daniel each received revelation near a body of water, it was seen as a place to find God’s presence. As the element of purification, water also represents the opportunity to cleanse the body and soul and take a new course in our lives. (Later rabbis continued to protest against the ritual, on grounds that it encouraged new sins by creating a social situation where people could gossip and men and women mingle, as Isaac Bashevis Singer’s story “Tashlich” illustrates.)

Although the rabbis preferred that Tashlich be done at a body of water containing fish (man cannot escape God’s judgment any more than fish can escape being caught in a net; we are just as likely to be ensnared and trapped at any moment as is a fish), since this is, after all, a symbolic ceremony, any body of water will do, even water running out of a hose or a faucet.

If the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat, Ashkenazi Jews [Jews of European descent] do Tashlich on the second day (so as not to carry prayer books to the water, which would violate Sabbath laws). Sephardic Jews [Jews of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent] perform the ritual even on the Sabbath [as do a number of liberal Jews]. The ceremony can take place any time during the holiday season through Hoshanah Rabbah at the end of
.
Excerpted from Celebrate!: The Complete Jewish Holidays Handbook.

Meditations on leadership through shepherding model: Ezekiel 34

Man is not the lord of beings. Man is the shepherd of Being. — Martin Heidegger

Being followers is not a bad thing, but who are we following? — David Philips

Ezekiel’s description of the false shepherds translates all too well into the 21st century, as large corporations extract resources from powerless people and regions, leaving them worse off than before. — Reta Halteman Finger

SONGS about SHEPHERDS:

SONGS about SHEEP:

Video introductions to the book of Ezekiel:

Article on styles of leadership:

Articles about shepherding in Palestine in contemporary times:

  1. https://www.oikoumene.org/news/early-morning-business-eas-accompany-bedouin-shepherds-in-jordan-valley
  2. https://www.greenplanetmonitor.net/global-development/agriculture/a-shepherds-life/

SHEPHERD LEADERS (excerpt)— Forbes.com (full article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinessdevelopmentcouncil/2021/03/11/are-you-a-shepherd-leader/?sh=611a799c3ed8)

What is the difference between leadership and shepherd leadership? According to Dictionary.com, “leadership is the position of function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group.” While a shepherd “is a person who protects, guides or watches over a person or group of people,” i.e., a protector, guardian, defender, keeper.
Then, what is the definition and role of a shepherd leader, and why is such a distinction important?
Shepherds of leadership are pundits expected to create positive change, to protect the core while simultaneously fueling advancement. They are expected to guide and nourish opportunity. They nurture and docent their flock who follow and pave the path, fueling the mission’s light ahead as the shepherd leads from behind. Shepherds fuel the flock’s resolve and personal engine of determination with their own righteous kinetic service to others.
The jetstream of frustration for any organization, for any home life, is leadership absent of heart, empathy, creativity — absent of plan. In fact, the very best shepherds of business opportunities are heralded by the happiness of their team. This manifests in the language of victories, team spirit, productivity and results under the wide umbrella of the art of the possible

Verse on Libyan Shepherds (excerpt) Virgil
Now, shall my verse pursue the Libyan nomads,
Their pastures, huts, their scattered settlements?
Their flocks will often, day and night for a month,
Roam and graze the empty tracts and find
No shelter in the vast expanse of land.
This African shepherd takes his world along,
His household, weapons, dog, his bow and arrows,
Much like the Roman soldier fierce in arms
Who marches forth, unfairly burdened down
By all his field equipment, and arrives
Ahead of time, to catch the foe off guard.

_______

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work … begins:
…To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.
— Howard Thurman

_______

For the Shepherd Who Is Also the Path the Sun Makes in Daytime (excerpt) Komal Mathew
 
… A good shepherd angles a lion’s eye, traps gazelles
in dry fields, copies a cheetah’s spots one leg at a time.
 
A good shepherd does not give you stones
when you ask for toast, does not ask you to work
 
without a burning bush—but owns a gate, uses a gate, pulls
the weeds and leaves the wheat on an altar of choices.
 
A good shepherd is a prince of peace when terror finds its full echo,
a creator in the wild where a predator, providentially, becomes prey.

_______

COMMENTARY on SHEPHERDS

Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd. ― Rumi

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty. — Abraham Lincoln

Shepherds lift their heads, not to gaze at a new light but to hear angels.  ― Richelle E. Goodrich
 
The seaman tells stories of winds, the ploughman of bulls; the soldier details his wounds, the shepherd his sheep. — Laurence J. Peter

… we’re lazy when it comes to doing things that are good for us; we also want someone to follow – someone to go first, for them to take the risks thereby smoothing our path; a sort of guarantee that we won’t stumble. Ironically, we also want to be followed in some way; we are both sheep and shepherd. ― Renée Paule
 
There was a shepherd the other day … who had in his eyes that reminiscence of horizons which makes the eyes of shepherds and of mountaineers different from the eyes of other men. ― Hilaire Belloc
 
I don’t want to get too philosophical, but in a sense, you’re given this gift, this sort of creative force in you, and I think everyone has it, and it’s completely unique to you. And you as a person have a little bit of a responsibility as its shepherd if you choose to incorporate that into your life. — Ze Frank
 
Too many leaders act as if the sheep… their people… are there for the benefit of the shepherd, not that the shepherd has responsibility for the sheep. — Ken Blanchard

It is the duty of a good shepherd to shear his sheep, not to skin them. — attributed to Tiberius
 
Compassion is a Shepherd, Always tending his herd. — Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

A true shepherd leads the way. He does not merely point the way. — Leonard Ravenhill
 
Shepherds know many mysterious languages; they speak the language of sheep and dogs, language of stars and skies, flowers and herbs. — Mehmet Murat Ildan

_______

FACTS ABOUT SHEEP — LiveScience (full article: https://www.livescience.com/52755-sheep-facts.html)

Sheep are related to antelopes, cattle, muskoxen and goats. All of these mammals are even-toed ungulates — their hooves are cloven, or split into two toes. They are also ruminants — their stomachs have multiple chambers to aid digestion. Most sheep have large, curling horns that are made of keratin — the same stuff as fingernails.
     Most people are familiar with sheep as wooly farm animals that say “Baa.” But the domestic sheep is just one species of sheep. There are also five (or six, depending on the source) species of wild sheep…
    … Habitat

Sheep were among the first animals to be domesticated, and they are raised all over the world. Wild sheep also live throughout the world — in the Middle East, Asia, Central Europe and North America — mostly in mountainous areas. Bighorn sheep live in the Rocky Mountain region of North America. Desert bighorn sheep live in Death Valley, California, as well as Nevada, Texas and northern Mexico. They can live on desert mountains as high as 4,000 feet (1,200 m). Urials can live even higher up. They are found in Asia and the Middle East on grassy terrains with elevations of up to 19,690 feet (6,000 m), according to the ADW.  Habits

Sheep are social, but usually only with their own gender. Males have their own herds called bachelor herds. These herds usually contain five to 50 rams at one time. The females live in nursery herds. Nursery herds can have five to 100 members that include adult females and their young. 

Male sheep fight for dominance in their group. Some ram each other at speeds up to 20 mph (32 kph), according to National Geographic (opens in new tab). Dominance is gained when one male submits. This process can take hours. Diet

Sheep are herbivores, which means their diet does not include meat. They typically eat seeds, grass and plants. Like all ruminants, they have multi-chambered stomachs that are adapted to ferment cellulose before digestion, according to the ADW. To completely digest their food, sheep will regurgitate their food into their mouths, rechew and swallow. This regurgitated food is called cud.

Some sheep don’t need much water. The desert bighorn sheep, for example, gets most of its water from eating plants, according to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. Offspring

Male sheep fight for the right to mate with the females and the strongest is usually the only one allowed to mate. Mating season, called the rut, happens in the autumn. After mating, female sheep have a gestation period of around five months. They usually give birth to one or two offspring at a time in the spring. 

Baby sheep are called lambs. Lambs can walk just minutes after they are born, though they are often dependent on their mothers for the first four to six months of their lives. They are weaned around four to six month and become sexually mature around one and a half to five years, depending on species and gender. For example, the male argali sheep doesn’t become sexually mature until age 5, while the female becomes sexually mature at age 1 or 2, according to the ADW.

Sheep are part of the Bovidae family, which includes antelopes, cattle and goats. Sheep usually can be identified from their similar looking cousins by their horns. Goats typically have straight horns and sheep have rounded horns. Also, male goats have beards while male sheep do not.

Here is the taxonomy of sheep, according to ITIS: 

Kingdom: Animalia Subkingdom: Bilateria Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Infraphylum: Gnathostomata Superclass: Tetrapoda Class: Mammalia Subclass: Theria Infraclass: Eutheria Order: Artiodactyla Family: Bovidae Subfamily: Caprinae Genus: Ovis Species: 

  • Ovis ammon (argalis), with nine subspecies
  • Ovis aries (domestic sheep, mouflon, red sheep, feral sheep), with nine subspecies, including urials
  • Ovis canadensis (bighorn sheep), with seven subspecies
  • Ovis dalli (Dall’s sheep, Fannin’s sheep, Stone’s sheep), with two subspecies
  • Ovis nivicola (snow sheep), with four subspecies



Other facts

If a sheep rolls over onto its back, it may not be able to get up without assistance, according to the Sheep101 website. A fallen sheep is called a “cast” sheep. They can become distressed and die within a short period of time if they are not rolled back into a normal position. When back on their feet, they may need supported for a few minutes to ensure they are steady. It happens mostly with pregnant ewes and short, stocky sheep with full fleeces. 

Most sheep’s milk produced worldwide is made into cheese, such as feta, ricotta, pecorino, Romano and Roquefort.

The most famous sheep is probably Dolly, the first mammal to be cloned. She was born in Scotland in 1996, gave birth to six lambs, and died in 2003 after developing a lung infection. She was stuffed and put on display at the Royal Museum of Scotland. (Fun fact: Dolly was named for country singer Dolly Parton.)

Each winter, a sheep’s set of horns gets a growth ring. By counting the rings, scientist can tell the age of a male sheep.

According to The Phrase Finder, the term “black sheep” to refer to a disreputable or disgraced member of a family may have derived from the notion that black fleeces could not be dyed and were therefore less valuable than white fleece. It may also be due to a bad translation of the Bible in 1535. 

Other resources

_______

THOUGHTS on SHEEP

If sheep do not have the constant care of a shepherd, they will go the wrong way, unaware of the dangers at hand. They have been known to nibble themselves right off the side of a mountain….. And so, because sheep are sheep, they need shepherds to care for them. The welfare of sheep depends solely upon the care they get from their shepherd. Therefore, the better the shepherd, the healthier the sheep. — Kay Arthur I am like the sick sheep that strays from the rest of the flock. Unless the Good Shepherd takes me on His shoulders and carries me back to His fold, my steps will falter, and in the very effort of rising, my feet will give way. — St. Jerome

The metaphor of the king as the shepherd of his people goes back to ancient Egypt. Perhaps the use of this particular convention is due to the fact that, being stupid, affectionate, gregarious, and easily stampeded, the societies formed by sheep are most like human ones. — Northrop Frye

Experience has taught me that the Shepherd is far more willing to show His sheep the path than the sheep are to follow. He is endlessly merciful, patient, tender, and loving. If we, His stupid and wayward sheep, really want to be led, we will without fail be led. Of that I am sure. — Elisabeth Elliot

_______

CHRISTIAN  COMMENTARY on SHEPHERDS & SHEEP

    “Shepherd” is an ancient leadership term. It had already been in widespread use for more than two thousand years by the time the New Testament was written. Across the Ancient Near East it was a common term for gods and kings. Throughout history it has borne two broad, often overlapping meanings, authority and care. The Old Testament carries the term’s rich history into the historical and prophetic books. The New Testament uses both meanings in the Gospels, the Epistles and the Book of Revelation.
     THE ANCIENT SHEPHERD KINGS: The ancient kings of Mesopotamia use shepherd terminology as a metaphor for their sovereign authority. Lugi-zaggissi (ca. 2500 B.C.) described himself as being “born for shepherding. Shushin (ca. 2030 B.C.) was “the king whom the god Enlil, in his heart, has elected to be the shepherd of the country and of the four corners of the world. Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.) called himself a shepherd
    Orientalists have documented images of Pharaoh and of the god Osiris holding a shepherd’s crook, the Ancient Near Eastern king’s visible symbol of power and authority. So too in Egypt, the shepherd’s crook symbolized Pharaoh’s divine authority.  The motif’s appearance in the Egyptian pantheon suggests a powerful metaphor that transcended cultural and social barriers in the ANE (Ancient Near East).
    ISRAEL’S DAVIDIC SHEPHERD KINGS: David, the shepherd, was summoned from his flocks and anointed king.  A humble shepherd, he was known to be “a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.”  When Israel’s twelve tribes formed one kingdom the shepherd king motif was invoked to solemnize their covenant with David.
    To be king was to be the shepherd. Calling David “the shepherd of God’s people” was tantamount to calling him Israel’s king.The prophets used the shepherd motif to castigate kings, princes and governing officials. The promise that God would regather his scattered flock and re-establish the kingdom, with David as king, draws upon this ancient metaphor.
    In that day “they will walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statues.” They will enjoy everlasting peace for the LORD “will make a covenant of peace with them.” They live in peace because “David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd.”
    Many of the prophetic passages that use the shepherd king motif were promises about the messiah. Some of these prophecies referred to his identity, some to his service, and many to the nature of his kingdom. The tight prophetic link between the shepherd king and the messiah become gloriously clear in Jesus Christ.
     Conclusion: The shepherd motif predates the New Testament by several thousand years. It has a rich association with the governing power and authority of kings. This is widely attested throughout the Middle East and in the Greek city states.

     When we approach the New Testament, especially from our vantage point almost 2,000 years after the final chapter was penned, we must take care not to automatically associate the term “pastor” with images related to animal husbandry. — Bud Brown, full article: https://www.turnaroundpastor.com/what-pastors-learn-from-ane-kings/


Christianity has found a useful symbol in the image of the shepherd. Our word “pastor” is from the Latin meaning “shepherd” and it is within common language of the Church to speak of this relationship between a pastor and his congregation as the relationship between a shepherd and his flock. Beyond this the church as a whole recognizes the image of the Good Shepherd, that is as Jesus Christ as King of the Church, it’s ultimate leader…
      Nearly as far back as written history goes, there exists the motif of kings as Shepherds. It was used in ancient Mesopotamia as far back as 3000BC, the area of the world out of which Abraham was called. The Egyptian Pharaohs used a shepherd staff or crook as one of their royal symbols and the prophets of Israel and Judah used the metaphor repeatedly….
     In the world of the ancient Near East, this was an obvious metaphor. The pastoral industry, the raising of sheep and goats, was a backbone of society. From these animals the necessities of life were produced: meat, milk and resulting dairy products, clothing from their wool and eventual leather, their horns were used as trumpets or containers to carry things like oil, and sheep were a means to barter or trade with. Sheep were even taken as taxes in organized society, for example 100 sheep a day were provided by the citizens of Israel for King Solomon’s household and government… And sheep were a central sacrificial animal as outlined by the Biblical Mosaic Law.  
    The image of kings and leaders as shepherds in the ancient near east may also be seen with a bit of irony, due to the sometimes-stigmatized profession that it was. Shepherds were often viewed as uncivilized. Always dwelling outside, away from cities, away from protection. They were necessary but not glamourous. The symbol however, likely derived from the special relationship that developed between sheep and their shepherd, including the sheep’s ultimate trust of the shepherd and their obedience to his or her voice. Sending a protective, nurturing message to help solidify a king’s power.
    Biblically, the image of the Good Shepherd is taken on by Christ Himself. — Corie Bobechko, full article: https://biblediscoverytv.com/history/2021/shepherd-king-motif/


And, like sheep, when someone or something comes along and finally makes us feel safe and loved and worthy and feeling like maybe we are finally going in the right direction, we follow them… And man, do we choose some lousy shepherds. .
…I have allowed myself to be shepherded by my addictions, and broken institutions, and the so called “wellness” industry, and the angriest voices on twitter – all while thinking I am for sure just following my own individual thoughts and desires.
    But this week I realized that not one single shepherd-shaped wolf that I have followed, has ever actually fulfilled my wants and desires, they have only ever increased them…
    Wolves and lesser shepherds will always suggest that we should look, feel, and act a certain way that is always just out of reach no matter how much we strive. And any past success serves only as an accusation against our current efforts. They set before us an unwinnable game. And in it there is no rest….
    So, here is a way to spot the difference between the wolves and the good shepherd–The shepherd never holds auditions. The Shepherd never mentions the quality of sheep they demand. The shepherd never bases their protection and love and concern for their sheep on how the sheep look or feel or behave or achieve…that’s never mentioned as a basis for belonging to the flock of the Good Shepherd.  Those are just things wolves create as a basis for belonging because grace is just too offensive.  Grace is just too hard to take since on some level, we think that if it’s free it must be worthless.
    So, yeah…There are no auditions. Nothing to earn. No extra credit in God’s flock. Which also means that there is no basis for comparison.  Nothing to envy in others. Nothing to prove. Even to ourselves
    In the good shepherd’s keeping, striving is replaced by relaxing. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

God is not a celestial prison warden jangling the keys
on a bunch of lifers–he’s a shepherd seeking for sheep,
a woman searching for coins,
a father waiting for his son. — Clarence Jordan

Jesus obviously drew shepherd allegories from his scriptures as well as from local sheepherding practices. — Reta Halteman Finger

We have seen that Ezekiel was a priest (1:3) whom God called to be prophet to His people of the Babylonian captivity. With the siege of Jerusalem ended, the Temple plundered, and the walls and city of Jerusalem in piles of rubble, the attention of God’s prophet now turned to the failure of the religious leaders of Israel… Ezekiel 34 is an indictment of the “shepherds of Israel” (the religious leaders), for their self-righteous, ungracious spirit…. The shepherds (pastors) of Israel were self-centered consumers. They had put their interests above the needs of the people.  — Rev Travis D. Smith

God is never on the sidelines of His children’s lives. He goes before them. He leads them, guides them, protects and saves them. — Monica Johnson
 

Worshipping the Lord means giving Him the place that he must have; worshipping the Lord means stating, believing – not only by our words – that He alone truly guides our lives; worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before Him that He is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history. — Pope Francis

As we follow Jesus more closely, others, who cannot see Jesus yet, will follow us – they will recognize His voice in us and in our actions. — David Philips

The Lord IS my shepherd. Not was, not may be, nor will be. . . is my shepherd on Sunday, is on Monday, and is through every day of the week; is in January, is in December, and every month of the year, is at home, and is in China; is in peace, and is in war; in abundance, and in penury. — Hudson Taylor

When we are fearful and worried all the time, we are living as if we don’t believe that we have a strong and able Shepherd who is tenderhearted toward us, who only leads us to good places, who protects us and lovingly watches over us. — Joseph Prince
 

You have a God who hears you, the power of love behind you, the Holy Spirit within you, and all of heaven ahead of you. If you have the Shepherd, you have grace for every sin, direction for every turn, a candle for every corner and an anchor for every storm. You have everything you need. — Max Lucado

God has entrusted us with his most precious treasure – people. He asks us to shepherd and mold them into strong disciples, with brave faith and good character. — John Ortberg

And if the line between pasture and wilderness wasn’t clearly drawn, neither was it safely fenced, which meant that the shepherd not only had to worry about sheep wandering off but about wild animals snatching them in the dark—not to mention bandits. … had to be prepared to fight them off—that’s what that staff was for … the shepherd’s staff was a tool and a weapon. It could be used to block a sheep’s path into danger or to prod it to safety; and it could be used to beat off an attacking wolf—or an attacking human. A shepherd had to be continuously alert, always ready both to care kindly for his sheep and to do battle with enemies. “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me,” not because the shepherd looks so comfortable leaning on them, but because they show that he’s ready to defend us. — David Walbert

A writer spent time with a shepherd on the Texas plains. One night, the shepherd built a fire, and the sheep gathered close. Around midnight, a coyote howled in the distance, followed by another coyote from the opposite direction. The fearful sheep began bleating.
    The shepherd tossed logs onto the fire. As flames shot up, the writer looked out and saw 4,000 tiny lights—the fire reflected in the eyes of 2,000 sheep. With enemies all around, the sheep looked only toward the shepherd. Why? They trusted him. — Stephen Rummage

9/11 Remembrance

Offered by one of our colleagues, local rabbi:

WAGE PEACE by Judyth Hill
Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble, breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Make soup.
Play music; memorize the words for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief
as the out breath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.
Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious:
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Celebrate today.

 



Written by Portsmouth NH poet laureate Rev Maren Tirabassi in 2020:

PAUSE for September 11 by Rev Maren Tirabassi

Pause for September 11.
Don’t say — remember.

Some of our remembers
are complicated
by what was happening to us
and some of us do not remember
because we are too young.

Pause for September 11.
Don’t say – pray.

Some of us want to pray
about the fires ravaging the west,
the terrible losses
of the coronavirus pandemic,
and some want to assign God
a personal agenda
of the first two amendments,
immigration, or masks.

Pause for September 11.
Don’t say – be a patriot.

That has too many meanings,
mostly full of
this-is-the-right-way
and the rest of you are wrong
and can also be confused
with a football team, TV show,
or surface-to-air missile.

Just pause for September 11.
In 2001 particular people died.
People who helped continue to die.
People died in acts
of response or retaliation.
People who live still grieve.
People who live
try to make the world better
because of that day.

Pause.

PRAYER for 9/11 by Rev Gail Doktor (reprised)

Holy Love is bigger than our languages and names for Godself. And so, however we might address the Source of Holy Love, on a day that touches many faith tradittions, let us turn our hearts toward love.
         As an act of prayer, let us remember. And remembering, may we learn, that we might create a different future for generations yet to come.
         We are a nation comprised of many ages, colors, creeds, languages, faiths, ethnicities, and stories. Our forefathers and foremothers, whether they already lived here, arrived here by choice, or came without volition, have contributed to creating a land that— at its best—seeks to broaden the experience of freedom and access to justice for all of its people. Over the centuries this nation, which is upheld by people like you and me, and people different from you and me, has grown to be stronger and striven to become ever-more inclusive. Our differences contribute to that resilience and strength.
         At its best, this dream of freedom that encompasses all people continues be the foundation of our ideals: we are— or may become — home and sanctuary for all kinds of people.Although we know, when we look honestly at our own history, that we must often engage in civil struggle to attain transformation,  we remain committed to doing so.
         Yes, we get it wrong sometimes. Then again, we keep trying, and often enough, we also get it right.
         Today we pause to remember: in Jackson, in the Mt Washington Valley, and around the nation. People held moments of silence. People walked with flags. People sang. People played bagpipes. People rang steeple bells. People rolled in fire trucks, police cruisers, and ambulances. People gathered. People remembered, and told the story again.
          This morning, just like more than two deades ago, we are a country in the midst of growth. We do not live in a state of finalized perfection, but a creative and imperfect, messy and mighty, living experiment in liberty. When we remain motivated by our nation’s ideals, we act not out of fear, but out of courage and compassion. We build toward a sustainable peace for our own times and generations yet to come.  
         Today, we remember the attacks that killed people from 93 nations: originally 2,753 people in New York; 184 people at the Pentagon; and 40 people on Flight 93. Thousands more were injured, either immediately or in the aftermath of rescue, recovery and rebuilding. Others died or were incapacitated due to complications from living and serving around those sites. Wars have been waged, and peace-building attempted, in response to the events of 9/11: thousands more lives are included in that ongoing legacy, too.
         Yes, terrorism was aimed at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. For a period of time, the land, water and skies in and around Manhattan, New York, western Pennsylvania, and in Arlington County, Virginia became sites of trauma, loss. Also sites of heroism. Now they are places of remembrance and learning.
         Today we acknowledge the victims: brothers and sisters from 93 nations, not just ours. People of every imaginable faith. People who spoke different tongues. People of every hue, who created a rainbow of humanity. People who woke up, traveled into the city, and started their days, to live common lives.
         These people, largely, were not warriors, but civilians. And in the every-day-ness of their living and doing, they told stories much like ours. They had families. Partners. Children. Siblings. Friends. Communities that expected them home again.
          They had dreams. They played. They worked. They prayed. Most of them did not expect or ask to bear names that have become synonymous with a nation’s story about itself.
         Among them, the city’s first responders—who have become symbolic of our nation’s first responders —served at great risk, and on that day, ran toward danger rather than away from it.
          All of them, men, women, children, both civilians and those who served a specific call, carried names that have indeed, and unexpectedly, have become a different kind of prayer.
         Brothers and sisters, let us lift up today, not the message that those who sought to force change through violence would have us learn. May we resist acting out of fear. Those who instigated violence believed that they could clip the wings of our imaginations, and topple our beliefs out of the sky.
         Instead, let us remember, and honor, the lives of common people whose lives have taken on an uncommon meaning, May we remember, and doing so, reclaim, rebuild and re-imagine, here in our own local community and across our country and around the world, a bigger vision that embraces peace. One that still has feet, but also wings.
         May we struggle together to achieve our shared ideals. May we seek to do the next right thing, motivated by compassion and courage. May we continue to expand, within our own borders, the great promise of freedom so that it is accessible to all of our nation’s children, through a civil process that—at its best—gives birth to justice, cultivates peace, and recognizes the dignity and value of every human soul.
         Peace. May this be the lesson we choose to learn, in remembrance of those events, in recognition of those lives forever lost or changed. Peace — sustainable and healthy and equitable and accessible in its abundance for all people. May we remember the names and stories of our brothers and sisters, those who died and those were carry the trauma and hurt in their changed lives. May we add our own stories to theirs, as we are called to engage in the great civil work of peace that is the legacy of this day.
         Peace is not the dream of one nation, but necessarily, it is the prayer of all peoples in all nations all over the world. Shalom. Salaam. Peace.
         Amen
   
To learn more, visit the 9/11 memorial site: https://www.911memorial.org/20th-anniversary

Reflections about new and old, aged and young.

Today I begin a new life. Today I shed my old skin which hath, too long, suffered the bruises of failure and the wounds of mediocrity. Today I am born anew and my birthplace is a vineyard where there is fruit for all. — Og Mandino

For I am full of words,
and the spirit within me compels me;
inside I am like bottled-up wine,
like new wineskins ready to burst.
— Job 32:18-19

Then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. — Deuteronomy 11:14

‘Israel will live in safety; Jacob will dwell secure in a land of grain and new wine, where the heavens drop dew.’ — Deuteronomy 33:28

‘May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness—an abundance of grain and new wine.’— Genesis 27:28

SONGS about WINE:

NEW WINE — Deakin Dixon

Black grape, black grape,
On the hillside growing clean;
Round grape,
Thick stem,
Curled green.

You were young snd green and tight,
Virgin blushing with the sun,
You have done what I have done,
Lain with summer,
Sweet and supple,
Yielded, given maidenhead,
While you lay in summer’s bed.

Black and golden,
Blue and purple,
Now you stand upon the vine,
Waiting for strong hands to make you
Into wine.

COMMENTARY on WINE

Wine has kind of like a binary moral value for the Hebrew Bible authors … because it’s a gift to the garden, which means it’s good. Genesis 1, it’s good. Psalm 104 says, “God gives grass to the creatures and makes crops grow out of the ground and vine to give joy to the human heart.” Psalm 104. But then you know, the Proverbs will also say wine is a mocker and strong drink is a brawler. It’ll make you get into fights and get hurt and then not remember in the morning. So, just like anything that’s good, it can be taken one of two ways… So it’s another way that the tree [of life] represents a choice for people. There’s all these stories about often leaders who get drank… It’s just being the fruit of the vine tree… Just comparing those two things, like you can be filled with God’s Spirit, his wisdom… You can be under the influence of the Spirit, in which case you’ll have discernment to make wise choices that bring good to you and other people. And if your brain’s not working right, especially if you caused your brain not to work right [by drinking too much, for instance], you’re going to hurt yourself or hurt other people or both. And that’s the way of folly. Two different ways. It can gladden your heart and be a gift of God, because it tastes amazing, but it can also destroy you, like most good things in life.— The Bible Project podcast. See full text: https://d1bsmz3sdihplr.cloudfront.net/media/Podcast%20Transcripts/TBP%20Transcripts/Tree%20of%20Life_E10_Is%20the%20Tree%20of%20Life%20Practical%20Transcript.pdf

The WINE of LOVE — James Thomson

The wine of Love is music,
And the feast of Love is song:
And when Love sits down to the banquet,
Love sits long:

Sits long and ariseth drunken,
But not with the feast and the wine;
He reeleth with his own heart,
That great rich Vine.

POEM — Rumi

You shattered my cup.

You shattered my cage.

Light, feast, triumphant blessing,

friend, trickster, haven for my drunken heart,

you brought my spirit to a boil,

turned my grapes to wine.

you lit a fire to the fragrant wood

and body of song in me.

Watch the smoke rise.


POEM — Rumi

We are the mirror,
also the face in it.

Drunk from eternal wine,
we are also the cup we sip from.

We prevent illness;
we also cure it.

We are the water of life,
also the jar that pours it.

Using the Three “R”s to Understand a Mysterious Teaching — Unity.org. Full article: https://www.unity.org/article/how-stop-putting-new-wine-old-wineskins

How to Avoid Exploding Wineskins

The comparison is a very apt one when we think of the properties of wine and wineskins. When wine is new, it is in a state of fermentation. It bubbles and expands as the fermentation gases are released. A fresh, pliable wineskin can absorb such expansion and slowly age-with the wine until the fermentation process is complete.

To put fresh wine into an old wineskin, however, is asking for trouble. The old wineskin has assumed a definite shape and is no longer pliable. It is fixed and somewhat brittle. The activity of new wine will stress it beyond its ability to yield. And so both the wine and the skin are lost.

We can’t put new ideas into old mindsets. We can’t get new results with old behaviors.

For example, one of the most common resolutions, and one that gets broken most often, has to do with weight control. … What most of us fail to do is address permanent changes in our eating habits. Trying to put the new wine of a trimmer body into the old wineskin of established and ingrained poor eating patterns cannot bring lasting results.

Habits unchecked are stronger than conscious willpower every time. Only when we fully understand what is really going on at the level of unconscious behavior can we take control and bring willpower to bear.

How many times have we said something like “I’m tired of procrastinating. Beginning tomorrow I’m not putting things off any longer”?

And we try! But somehow tomorrow never quite comes …

How about, “I resolve that this new year will be my most prosperous and rewarding year ever.” … Chances are we are still holding on to some old wineskin ideas concerning our true source of abundance. We haven’t fully bought in to the concept of giving and receiving.

We can’t put new ideas into old mindsets. We can’t get new results with old behaviors.

So how do we get these new wineskins—these new minds out of which our new life will emerge? [With] three strong verbs, “Repent, Replace, and Relax.”Repent Means to Change Your Thinking

Repent means so much more than being conscience-stricken or contrite. The underlying Greek word is a form of metanoia, which means to undergo a fundamental change in one’s mind or character. Simply put, to repent is to change one’s thinking. Shift paradigms.

The apostle Paul grasped this well. To his friends in Rome, he said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Romans 12:2). And to those in Philippi, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

The way Jesus saw the world is crucial to understanding and living in the new paradigm, the new wineskin. Do we want prosperity? We can adopt the Jesus mind-set of an opulent universe. The old wineskin says that the harvest comes only at a certain time and in a certain way. The new wineskin of the Christ mind says, “But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting” (John 4:35) and “give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap” (Luke 6:38).

The old paradigm says, “Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it!” The new paradigm says, “Ah, you’ll see it when you believe it!”

The essence of repentance is letting go of old, limited ideas and investing our belief in new, expansive ideas.

Here are some bold thoughts for your new future:

  • I am transformed by the renewing of my mind.
  • I have the mind in me that is also in Christ Jesus.
  • I lovingly release all old, unproductive thoughts and feelings and let them go.
  • I change my thinking now from lack to plenty, from illness to health, from the old me to the new me.
  • I joyfully welcome new ideas from the Christ mind in me, and I am transformed.

Replace with New Thoughts

Now let’s do some replacing, our second “R.” The Unity method of affirmative prayer can be very helpful here. We construct meaningful affirmations that keep our conscious mind interested and entertained and then we practice them repetitively so that our subconscious mind is impressed with the change.

Then start replacing the old lifestyle: My meals are healthy and balanced, and my exercise is sufficient. I am trimmer and fitter now.

Make sure that the two conditions in the affirmations are true, that your meals are healthy and balanced and that you are getting enough exercise. We can’t kid ourselves here. Such an affirmation keeps us conscious of our goal, and practice and repetition make it a habit.

As we replace old patterns with new ones and use them, not as temporary measures but as permanent changes, we become transformed. Our repentance takes on visibility.Then Relax About It

And now the third “R”—relax. Let the process work. Relaxing doesn’t mean going back to the old patterns. It means not worrying or straining for results. Don’t establish unrealistic time frames. It took us awhile to get this way, and it will take a while for changes to fully materialize.

Relaxing means to give things the light touch. It means not condemning the old concepts and behaviors. Just let them go. They have served their purpose of bringing us to this present moment.

Talk to your body and give it instructions to relax, beginning with the toes and working upward or with the scalp and working down. A regular period of time set aside for the purpose of relaxing can be of inestimable value for our bodies and our minds.Don’t Forget to Pray

It is always a good idea to surround the whole process of repenting, replacing, and relaxing with prayer. Spend time in the silence with the Lord of your being, your source of guidance and energy.

In the deep silence, you may tap into that vast, inexhaustible source of universal energy and become fully empowered to change your thinking and to begin replacing old, limited patterns of living with new, vital ones. You can change your thinking now from the old to the new, from the impossible to the possible, from the limited to the unlimited.

Taking the two great commandments to heart: love as the most ancient law

At its core, caring for creation is about loving our global neighbor, because the poor suffer the most from the degradation of the earth. — Shane Claiborne

You shall love your crooked neighbour
   With your crooked heart. — WH Auden

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.— Jane Goodall

SONGS about LOVING each OTHER (our NEIGHBORS):

Songs about LOVING the EARTH:

As I Walked Out One Evening

— W. H. Auden

As I walked out one evening,
   Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
   Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
   I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
   ‘Love has no ending.

‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
   Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
   And the salmon sing in the street,

‘I’ll love you till the ocean
   Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
   Like geese about the sky.

‘The years shall run like rabbits,
   For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
   And the first love of the world.’

But all the clocks in the city
   Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
   You cannot conquer Time.

‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
   Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
   And coughs when you would kiss.

‘In headaches and in worry
   Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
   To-morrow or to-day.

‘Into many a green valley
   Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
   And the diver’s brilliant bow.

‘O plunge your hands in water,
   Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
   And wonder what you’ve missed.

‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
   The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
   A lane to the land of the dead.

‘Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
   And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
   And Jill goes down on her back.

‘O look, look in the mirror,
   O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
   Although you cannot bless.

‘O stand, stand at the window
   As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
   With your crooked heart.’

It was late, late in the evening,
   The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
   And the deep river ran on.

POEM by Elizabeth Tambasci

You can sit with us. You can live beside us.
You can play your music. You can listen to mine.
We can dance together. We can share our food.
We can keep an eye on each other’s kids.
We can teach each other new languages.
We can respect traditions. We can build new ones.
You can ask for a cup of sugar. You can ask for directions.
You can tell me when things are hard.
You can tell me when beautiful things happen.
We can listen to stories.
We can disagree. We can agree.
We can come to understandings. You can wear what you want.
You can pray as you feel compelled to.
You can love who you want.
You can sit with us.
― Elizabeth Tambascio

Love Like Salt — Lisel Mueller

It lies in our hands in crystals too intricate to decipher
It goes into the skillet without being given a second thought
It spills on the floor so fine we step all over it
We carry a pinch behind each eyeball
It breaks out on our foreheads
We store it inside our bodies in secret wineskins
At supper, we pass it around the table
talking of holidays and the sea.

Tikkun Olam: In Jewish teachings, any activity that improves the world, bringing it closer to the harmonious state for which it was created. Tikkun olam implies that while the world is innately good, its Creator purposely left room for us to improve upon His work. All human activities are opportunities to fulfill this mission, and every human being can be involved in tikkun olam—child or adult, student or entrepreneur, industrialist or artist, caregiver or salesperson, political activist or environmentalist, or just another one of us struggling to keep afloat. — Chabad.org

Love Your Neighbor

You can be a follower of Muhammad or Jesus or Buddha or whomever. Always, they said that the most essential factor is to love your neighbor. And to love you. — Leo Buscaglia

Again and again I tell God I need help, and God says, ‘Well, isn’t that fabulous? Because I need help too. So you go get that old woman over there some water, and I’ll figure out what we’re going to do about your stuff.’ — Anne Lamott

You shall love your neighbor With your crooked heart, It says so much about love and brokenness — it’s perfect. ― John Green, Looking for Alaska

To be truly good means being a good neighbor. . . . And to be a good neighbor means recognizing that there are ultimately no strangers … Everybody is my neighbor!… Everybody is my brother! … We’re all connected. ― Brian D. McLaren

… teaches us to love ourselves in a wholesome manner by loving our neighbor. Indeed, even by loving our enemies – at least by trying to learn to love them, and by believing that it is right to do so. With grace this is possible. — Michael O’Brien

It’s very important to know the neighbor next door and the people down the street and the people in another race. — Maya Angelou

Sometimes a neighbor whom we have disliked a lifetime for his arrogance and conceit lets fall a single commonplace remark that shows us another side, another man, really; a man uncertain, and puzzled, and in the dark like ourselves. — Willa Cather

Spread love everywhere you go: First of all in your own house … let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness. — Mother Teresa

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”   ― Martin Luther King Jr.

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal … your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses … for in him also Christ ‘vere latitat’ – the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden. ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

To love our neighbor as ourselves is such a truth for regulating human society, that by that alone one might determine all the cases in social morality. — John Locke

The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbor. — Hubert H. Humphrey

Love & Care for Self

When you are compassionate with yourself, you trust in your soul, which you let guide your life. Your soul knows the geography of your destiny better than you do. – John O’Donohue

Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too. – L.R. Knost

In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective. – Dalai Lama

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good. – John Steinbeck

Lighten up on yourself. No one is perfect. Gently accept your humanness. – Deborah Day

Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is more important than the judgment we pass on ourselves. – Nathaniel Branden
 
Self-discipline is self-caring. – M. Scott Peck

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation … – Audre Lorde
 
If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. – Jack Kornfield

People who love themselves come across as very loving, generous and kind; they express their self-confidence through humility, forgiveness and inclusiveness. – Sanaya Roman

When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water. – Benjamin Franklin
 
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. – Anne Lamott
 

Carve out and claim the time to care for yourself and kindle your own fire. – Amy Ippoliti
 
Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch. – Parker J. Palmer
 
The perfect man of old looked after himself first before looking to help others.  – Chuang Tzu

Self Care is the secret ingredient to Soldier care in a recipe that yields many servings of effective leadership. – Donavan Nelson Butler

On Loving God

When the worst finally happens, or almost happens, a kind of peace comes. I had passed beyond grief, beyond terror, all but beyond hope, and it was thee, in that wilderness, that for the first time in my life I caught sight of something of what it must be like to love God truly. It was only a glimpse, but it was like stumbling on fresh water in the desert, like remembering something so huge and extraordinary that my memory had been unable to contain it. Though God was nowhere to be clearly seen, nowhere to be clearly heard, I had to be near him—even in the elevator riding up to her floor, even walking down the corridor to the one door among all those doors that had her name taped on it. I loved him because there was nothing else left. I loved him because he seemed to have made himself as helpless in his might as I was in my helplessness. I loved him not so much in spite of there being nothing in it for me but almost because there was nothing in it for me. For the first time in my life, there in that wilderness, I caught a glimpse of what it must be like to love God truly, for his own sake, to love him no matter what. If I loved him with less than all my heart, soul, and will, I loved him with at least as much of them as I had left for loving anything…
       I did not love God, God knows, because I was some sort of saint or hero. I did not love him because I suddenly saw the light (there was almost no light at all) or because I hoped by loving him to persuade him to heal the young woman I loved. I loved him because I couldn’t help myself. I loved him because the one who commands us to love is the one who also empowers us to love, as there in the wilderness of that dark and terrible time I was, through no doing of my own, empowered to love him at least a little, at least enough to survive. And in the midst of it, these small things happened that were as big as heaven and earth because through them a hope beyond hopelessness happened. “O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and for evermore.”…
      The final secret, I think, is this: that the words “You shall love the Lord your God” become in the end less a command than a promise.” ― Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces

Love of God is not a thing which we produce in ourselves by excessive brooding or by self-hypnotism or by any other method. It is a permanent flame, slowly burning in the caverns of all our hearts. […] The basis of all religions is this love of God. For if this love of God were not vital to us, all that the great prophets have been trying to preach would have been unreal and futile. If it were not a real experience which in some sense is shared by us all, an experience which ennobles us and raises us far above the selfish pettinesses of life, no prophet and no religious deed would be able to appeal to our higher natures and establish the claims of religion. ― Surendranath Dasgupta, Hindu Mysticism

A necessary condition for interior peace, then, is what we might call goodwill. We could also call it purity of heart. It is the stable and constant disposition of a person who is determined more than anything to love God, who desires sincerely to prefer in all circumstances the will of God to his own, who does not wish to consciously refuse anything to God.  ― Jacques Philippe, Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart

… the test case for love of God is love of neighbour. The test case for love of neighbour is love of enemy. Therefore, to the extent we love neighbour and enemy, to that extent we love God. And to the extent we fail to love neighbour and enemy, we fail to love God. “Love” (agapao) is … action verb that constantly reaches out to embrace as friends, draw a circle of inclusion around neighbour and enemy (agape is the noun form, almost invariably referencing God’s unconditional love …). Therefore, the ultimate theological bottom line is: God is all-inclusive love. Period. ― Wayne Northey

On Loving Creation

One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken.
—Leo Tolstoy

You are called to care for creation not only as responsible citizens, but as followers of Christ! — Pope Francis

The Earth is what we all have in common. —Wendell Berry

God intends …. our care of Creation to reflect our care for the Creator. — John Stott

He that plants trees loves others besides himself. —Thomas Fuller

The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share. — Lady Bird Johnson

The Earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations. — Pope John Paul II

The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard. —Gaylord Nelson

What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on. —Henry David Thoreau

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.—Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Earth is a fine place and worth fighting for. —Ernest Hemingway

The proper use of science is not to conquer nature but to live in it. —Barry Commoner

We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do. —Barbara Ward

Scroll to top