We are calling upon Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s teaching that addresses climate change and the extinction reality for our species and so many others in our time.  Deep Ecumenism urges all peoples of all religions to pray and act for the common good, for the good of the planet, “our common home” (Pope Francis).

Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean of Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, discusses Shabbat traditions speaking to environmental themes of regeneration, responsibility, and community. Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development

He offers the following meditation suggesting lighting candles as you read it. [Theshalomcenter.org]

Between the Fires:

A Kavanah (Prayer) for Kindling Candles of Commitment

We are the generations
That stand between the fires.
Behind us
The burning crosses lit by hate
To choke our people in the smoke of terror;
Behind us the flame and smoke
That rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima.

In this 2019 image by NOAA-20, the smoke from fires in the Amazon rainforest can be clearly seen (Wikimedia Commons). Deforestation in Brazil’s rainforest broke historic records between January and June 2022, as an area five times the size of New York City was destroyed. (Reuters)

Not yet behind us,
The burning forests of the Amazon,
Torched for the sake of fast hamburger and fast wealth.
Not yet behind us, the glare of gun fire
exploding in our children.
Not yet behind us –-
the hottest years of human history
That bring upon us
Melted ice fields. Flooded cities.
Scorching droughts. Murderous wildfires.

Before us we among all life-forms
face the nightmare of a Flood of Fire,
The heat and smoke that could consume all Earth.

The world ablaze: Thomas Fire, Ventura, CA, Los Padres NF and Cal Fire, 2017, Santa Ana Conditions. Photo by ELG21 on Pixabay.

“Here! The day is coming,”
Said the Prophet Malachi,
“That will flame like a furnace,
Says YHWH / Yahhhh —
The Infinite InterBreath of Life —
when all the arrogant, all evil-doers,
root and branch,
will like straw be burnt to ashes
in the fires that they set.

Yet for all who revere
My Interbreathing Name, Yahhhh,
a sun of justice will arise
with healing in the beating of its wings,
its rays, its winds.”

“Here! Before the coming
of the great and awesome day
of YHWH/ the Breath of Life,
I will send you the Prophet Elijah
to turn the hearts of elders to the youth
and the hearts of youth to elders,
lest I come and smite all Earth with utter desolation.”

Grandfather sharing a story with his son and grandson in Ukraine. Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash

Here! we ourselves are coming
Before that great and terrible day
Of smiting Earth —
For we ourselves shall turn the hearts
Of youth and elders to each other.
So that this day of smiting
Does not fall upon us.

We ourselves are coming
To douse that outer all-consuming fire.
We must light again in our own hearts
the inner fire of love and liberation
that burned in the Burning Bush —
The fire that did not destroy the Bush it burned in,
For love is strong as death —
Love’s Fire must never be extinguished–
The fire in the heart of all Creation.

We light these candles to make from inner fire
Not an all-consuming blaze
But the loving light in which we see more clearly
The Rainbow Covenant glowing
in the many-colored faces of all life.

Blessed be You, Interbreathing Spirit of the world, creative energy, who makes us holy by connecting us with each other and with You, and at this moment connects us by kindling our inner light.

Rabbi Waskow proposes ideas for communities taking action to put this prayer into history and I will speak to this in the video that accompanies today’s meditation.

For Deep Ecumenism, see Matthew Fox, “The Cosmic Christ and Deep Ecumenism,” in Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, pp. 228-244.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: In the name of love: AIDS LifeCycle memorial candlelight vigil 2022. Photo by Victor Solonoy on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

What moves you most about this prayer and poem “Between the Fires”?  What other fires might you name that hold deep lessons for humankind (one might be the fire anniversary coming up on August 6 of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan)?  Is it significant that “fire” is considered yang energy and that maybe it plays too dominant a role in our patriarchal worlds?  That more yin energy is needed?

Recommended Reading

The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance

In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

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15 thoughts on “Ceremony of Sorrow, Hope, & Action, continued”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today we are grateful welcome Rabbi Arthur Waskow back to our meditation again, and his teaching that addresses climate change and the extinction reality for our species and so many others in our time. You say that “Deep Ecumenism urges all peoples of all religions to pray and act for the common good, for the good of the planet, ‘our common home'” (Pope Francis)–good quote I might add… You ask us: “What moves you most about this prayer and poem “Between the Fires”?
    “We are the generations
    That stand between the fires.
    Behind us”
    Then the author talks of the fires of burning crosses and Auschwitz and Hiroshima.
    “Not yet behind us,
    The burning forests of the Amazon”
    Then the author says that this brings upon us
    Melted ice fields. Flooded cities.
    Scorching droughts. Murderous wildfires.
    “Here! The day is coming,” said the Prophet Malachi, “That will flame like a furnace, says YHWH / Yahhhh — The Infinite InterBreath of Life — when all the arrogant, all evil-doers, root and branch, will like straw be burnt to ashes in the fires that they set.” This is clearly the prophet speaking and not the mystic. But from a mystical point of view, and you write beautifully: “Their is a fire that is burning in our soul’s. The fire that did not destroy the Bush it burned in, For love is strong as death — Love’s Fire must never be extinguished–The fire in the heart of all Creation.” Finally you ask us: “Is it significant that “fire” is considered yang energy and that maybe it plays too dominant a role in our patriarchal worlds? That more yin energy is needed? Yes, and Yin is of the water. And what did Jesus say about water? “whoever drinks of the water that I give shall never thirst, but the water I give shall be in them a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4: 14″).

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      Great pic of the 3 generations in Ukraine sitting at table featuring two clocks. Time is passing faster than we can get hold of, and events unfolding more rapidly than we can process or control generation after generation. There is only one constant common to both outer and inner, physical and spiritual worlds. It links past, present and future, and eternity with time. That physical and ecumenical constant is light. We are to fix on, be transformed by, and live out of that inner light as children of light. One light in a dark world can make a difference, maybe not everywhere, but somewhere. The Great Day of Yahweh is when everything will be made and right and just by that Light. It will be pleasant for the children of light, not so pleasant for those who are on the wrong side of it (Amos 5:18-20).

    2. Avatar

      Dear Richard, I too was deeply touched by Rabbi Arthur Waskow presentation brought to us via Mathew’s pointing us in the direction of so many among us inspiring us and healing us. I found myself crying as Rabbi Author spoke (tears (water) to put out all the out-of-control fires we see now, inequities, abuses, the burning planet, all one and the same, that he and Mathew and others are urging us to attend to and are showing us how to lament and find hope in the actions we can take to return to balance in all that is happening (out of balance)

      Thank you, Richard, for your sharing. For me your thoughts/insights & inspirations are expansive and in alignment with the Uni-Verse/Multi-Verse ever expanding. I share that William James, The Father of American Psychology wrote in his book, The Varieties of Religious Experience his view on the characteristics of mysticism. He says all mysticism has a heuristic ever-expanding) quality. All science that leads to new discoveries has that same heuristic quality as we witness new images from the Webb telescope showing us Creation expanding all from which we came and are a part of.

      Your clear inspired words touched my soul and now resonate in my heart beats as does each of Mathew’s morning meditations, always from the heart, always heuristic leading us to others (both in history & at present)who also expanding us through their sharing.

      I particularly like your thoughts about the fire is within and that it (Yang) plays too dominant a role as we witness in destructive hierarchies/patriarchies we have created and are witnessing now. If we first recognize out of control, over-fired Yang (actions) then we can put out those fires by water (Yin reflection before all restorative actions) I think of John the Baptist baptizing people as a new paradigm, a New Testament was beginning. He baptized with water to quiet the over-fired Yang of his time. Jesus asked him to baptize Himself. How interesting the Webb telescope scientists (some of them in cleansing tears also) see the fires of the images and now are looking for ways to see water also there that is so essential for the formation of planets that have water amidst all the heat and fire, that form and then form an environment through water that merges with its fires to form the building blocks of all life, plants, bacteria, animals, and eventually us as sentient beings. Together, fire and water in balance (Equanimity) brings about Creation in Awesome Creativity that surrounds us and also is within us to Create. As we embrace and lament over all the inequities (lack of balance, lack of Equanimity) we can swing the pendulum back to center, quiet within (prayer/meditation/yin reflection so needed now. Fire and water in balance as you so well say in your words is our path to take now collectively as a species that could become extinct or survive in new ways.

      May I have permission to place your insightful words on fire and water with my article at my website “Out of control Yang: The Root of Cancer, Chaos, and Dis-ease?

  2. Avatar

    The information below promises to be an exciting conversation featuring several professors — one from Agnes Scott and three from Columbia Theological Seminary. What do THEY think about what the James Webb telescope is revealing? See below for details and a LINK to join via Zoom.

    Interested in the James Webb telescope images? Want to learn more about what we’re seeing and what it means?

    Join Agnes Scott College Professor of Astronomy, Dr. Chris Depree and Columbia Seminary’s Professor of Theology, Dr. Martha Moore Keish, Professor of Christian Ethics, Dr. Mark Douglas, and Professor of Old Testament, Dr. Bill Brown who will ponder these questions.

    Wednesday, Aug. 3, 7:00-8:30 CENTRAL TIME

    This online event is free and open to the public.

    Zoom Link: https://ctsnet.zoom.us/j/81745136091

  3. Avatar

    Thank you Matthew for reminding us again that human history, especially the last 8000 yrs., has been plagued by too much or unbalanced yang energy that has manifested in toxic and destructive patriarchal societies and institutions increasingly up to the present day. This destructive influence and human behavior has not only caused unspeakable human suffering, but now Mother Earth and all Her living creatures and life giving blessings are also being destroyed leading to the possible extinction of our human species. The Spirit of our Divine Feminine, yin energy, Love~Wisdom~Creativity~Compassion needs to gracefully increase in our inner and outer lives with one another and with the Sacredness of Mother Earth… God bless us all in Loving Diverse Oneness of our Beloved Cosmic Christ Consciousness….

  4. Avatar

    Indeed, we are living in dark times. Clearly half or more of those in power–in politics and corporations–act from a myopic, rapacious, self-serving foundation. These middle-age and senior heads of state and business must have grandchildren. How is it possible that they, at the very least from pure selfishness, do not want to leave a healthy planet for their own grandchildren?

    And so, as a multi-decade-long activist through both peace-and-justice actions and my social-change writing career, I waver between two positions. The first is to “leave this house” as Jeanette wrote about yesterday. (House meaning “country” in this case.) The second is to continue to write and act to eliminate the ill and work for the good. And so I think of Britain (my heritage) during World War II. Things looked almost impossibly dark for the British people, yet year after year they kept resisting. After much pain and suffering, they were victorious.

    I have not yet decided whether my actions can make a difference in this country or whether it is time to “leave this house.”

  5. Avatar

    Don’t take leave of your country, Michelle, only your thinking. I can think of better places to cast the seed (truth) of your creative writing and activism. The concrete, steel and asphalt surfaces of those in high office are not places where things grow. Things only whither there and die. Save your breath, energies, and best seed for more receptive hearts. That way, you won’t have to move an inch, either from your keyboard, or geographically.

  6. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    When one is aligned to the movements of Spirit, it’s amazing how things become so synchronistic. Today I ventured to West Minster Abbey, in Mission BC… the Benedicton monastery known for its beautiful stained glass. I sat alone, in solitude… emersed in this rainbow chapel of light… that danced all around me like fire from the burning bush. In this silent stillness, the voice of Spirit inspired me to leave a gift for the brothers in this place. Following this prompting, I placed a package wrapped in purple paper with flowering branches from the Bleeding Heart plant. Inside this, I placed the Rabbi’s poem from today’s DM… along with a copy of Mathews books… The Coming of the Cosmic Christ and Creation Spirituality. I quietly stepped across the red roped off section leading to the altar, and placed this gift on the third chair on the left side, where the brothers sing the Hours of the Divine Office… as Spirit inspired me to do. I simply trusted what I had been sent to do… as Spirit reassured me that there was someone there… whom had eyes to see and ears to hear… the importance of the message being offered… in which I was merely the carrier of.

    This was my ceremony of hope in action… in celebration of the rainbow covenant and all the voices of the prophets and mystics… down through the ages… from one generation to the next… whom are crying out in the wilderness… faithfully rekindling the light of love… through the liberation of this blessed gift of living water.

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      Dear Jeanette Metler, Sister in the Christ Consciousness,

      May what already manifest in your joining with your brothers at Westminster Abbey, BC Canada, continue to unite with the Same Rituals/Liturgies/Songs everywhere Springing up on our planet. May I post your story of inspired action and ritual at my website as it was so healing for me as you it was for you? Darryl Luke Pokea

      1. Avatar
        Jeanette Metler

        Yes Darryl, you may post my comment on your site. I’m glad that my story brought some healing for you.

        Blessings of love and light upon you.


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