The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Love Is My Religion

I grew up in a Conservative Jewish home…to clarify, not politically conservative, but rather a middle ground between Orthodox and Reform Judaism.  Synagogue on Friday nights as a family, holidays celebrated in the home, our Passover Seder table included friends from various faith traditions. I attended Hebrew school until I was 16; even now reciting the Shema before bed..the signature prayer of the religion 


“Shema Yisra’el YHWH Eloheinu YHWH E?ad

“Hear O Israel, The Lord Our God, The Lord Is One”

The translation that best resonates for me was offered by my friend Rabbi Rami Shapiro:

Hear O Israel, That Which We Call God Is Oneness Itself”


and the Modeh Ani upon arising


“Modeh anee lifanecha melech chai vikayam, she-he-chezarta bee nishmatee b’chemla, raba emunatecha.”

“I offer thanks to You, living and eternal One, for You have restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.”


And, to their credit, my parents supported my exploration of other beliefs.  I attended services with Christian friends, and my parents, sister and I spent Christmas with my mother’s dear friend Miriam and her family.  I always wondered how Santa knew to bring gifts there for two little Jewish girls. That tradition continued into my 20′s.


When I told my parents about becoming an interfaith minister, my mother had one question: “Are you converting?”  My response echoed that of my friend Alan Cohen who when asked if he was a Jew For Jesus, he replied with words to  the effect:  “I’m a Jew for Jesus, an Alan for Allah, A boy for Buddha, A Man for Moses, A Cohen for Confuscious.”  I did not convert, I expanded my belief system to include various teachings. 


The motto of The New Seminary, founded by Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, from which I graduated in 1999 is “Never instead of, always in addition to.”  Those powerful words encouraged us to come from our spiritual roots and branch out from there.


Ziggy Marley’s song Love Is My Religion  speaks so beautifully, the concept I embrace that religion is meant to be unifying, not divisive.

A Blessing For Your Home

The roof that is suspended over our heads, the walls that


surround us and the floor that supports us, provide a


sense of security. None of that compares to the serenity of


knowing that the Master Builder has helped us


to create the home within us that we carry along on our travels.

May all who enter this home feel welcome.


May God’s Love be in the structure and foundation of this




May God’s comfort be within the paint that coats these walls.


May the ceiling be of God’s sheltering Power.


May God’s Light shine through the windows onto the world.




And for your listening pleasure… a lively song on a similar




That’s All The Lumber  by Ceili Rain

God’s Promise

What do you imagine is promised by God?  One of my favorite responses to that question is a beautiful blending of the lyrics of heritage artist Woody Guthrie and the music of contemporary singer songwriter Ellis Paul.



God’s Promise

I didn’t promise you skies painted blue
Not all colored flowers all your days through
I didn’t promise you, sun with no rain
Joys without sorrows, peace without pain.

All that I promise is strength for this day,
Rest for my worker, and light on your way.
I give you truth when you need it, my help from above,
Undying friendship, my unfailing love.

I never did promise you crowns without trials,
Food with no hard sweat, your tears without smiles,
Hot sunny days without cold wintry snows,
No vict’ry without fightin’, no laughs without woes.

All that I promise is strength for this day,
Rest for my, worker, my light on your way,
I give you truth when you need it, my help from above,
Undying friendship, my unfailing love.

I sure didn’t say I’d give you heaven on earth,
A life with no labor no struggles no deaths,
No earthquakes no dryspells, no fire flames no droughts,
No slaving no hungers, no blizzards no blights.

All that I promise is strength for this day,
Rest for my worker, my light on your way,
I give you truth when you need it, my help from above,
Undying friendship, my unfailing love.

I promise you power, this minute this hour,
The power you need when you fall down to bleed,
I give you my peace, and my strength to pull home
My love for all races all creeds and all kinds.

My flavors my saviors my creeds of all kinds,
My love for my saviors, all colors all kinds,
My love for my races all creeders all kinds,
My saviors my flavors my dancers all kinds,
My dancers my prancers my singers all kinds,
My flavors my saviors my dancers all kinds.



You Are Not Alone

There are times when our problems feel unique and we imagine that no one will ever understand the depth of our pain.This human incarnation brings with it both challenges and opportunities and as Buddhism offers, the concept of 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. Some are beyond our control and others of our own making. Some are part of the natural flow of life, such as the death of loved ones, others are as a result of ingrained patterns of behavior. Regardless of the nature of our challenges, there is an inner knowing that we can reach beyond our fears and limitations.

This song, written and performed by ‘heritage artist’ Mavis Staples of the Staple Singers and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco reminds me clearly that even in the midst of feeling isolated, I am never alone.   Instead, together with the One who created us and those in our lives, we are All-One. How can you reach out to others, as well as the “God of your understanding” so that you are certain of the same thing?

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