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I’m excited to announce that with a burst of effort, I’ve “completed” the Gateway of the Moon. (I put that in quotation marks because even after a Gateway (content page) is “complete,” I often go back to enhance it and to add new posts. This Gateway has taken 3 months to finish, mostly because I’ve been so busy at work and also with teaching the fall trimester at the Academy for Jewish Religion. Although I didn’t quite make my goal of finishing it for the secular New Year, I think it’s symbolic that I completed it on Rosh Hodesh Shevat, the New Moon/New Month of Shevat!
The newest pathways (posts) in the Gateway of the Moon include Blessing the Moon as a spiritual opportunity particularly associated with men (paralleling Rosh Hodesh for women), and a guide to the Hebrew lunar months. There is also a post about the Solar Eclipse (an update from this summer), and my own “Guide’s Perspective” to greeting the moon. There is a lot to experience and explore in this Gateway, but most of all I hope that you will come to appreciate your own experiences of the Moon, and to share them with me and other visitors in the Sharing Circle of the Moon. (There is a Sharing Circle in every Gateway and I hope that you will write about your own experiences of spirituality in nature).
Although I’ve enjoyed the Gateway of the Moon, I’m more of a down-to-earth person, so I’m eager to go on to the next Gateway! I’ll be writing to all the subscribers about the Gateway of the Moon (please subscribe on this page for my very occasional updates), and then announcing the next Gateway. I also want to post some special materials for Tu Bishvat, the upcoming New Year of Trees. Meanwhile, you can find a lot on the Gateway of Trees.
This post in the Gateway of Mountains contains a recording in which Cantor Jack Kessler chants the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “Mountaintop” speech to traditional haftarah trope (cantillation of a selection from the prophets). It helps the listener to hear and absorb Dr. King’s words as a prophetic message of our time.
I hope that it will add to your observance and appreciation for MLK Day. Jewish organizations are among the many observing it as a Day of Service to others.
For each Gateway (themed content page) on Wellsprings of Wisdom, I include at least one Pathway (post) about Tikkun Olam, making the world better. So when it comes to the moon, what should I write about? The moon doesn’t need our help…but in ancient Jewish legends, the moon is seen as a symbol for the feminine. So I wrote this post about supporting organizations that help women in developing countries…and our own society. Enjoy the latest post in the almost-complete Gateway of the Moon.
Although January 1 is not the Jewish New Year, as Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan taught, Jews live in two civilizations, the particular Jewish and the larger general culture. One of the things I’m discovering on the Wellsprings of Wisdom journey is that many of the natural themes that we celebrate on Jewish holidays are found in cultures around the world as well, although given a uniquely Jewish perspective. Even so-called “secular” rituals contain their sparks of holiness, as you can ponder on this Wellsprings Pathway (post) by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson: “The Hidden Holiness of the Secular New Year” in the Gateway of Light. Wishing a happy and healthy 2018 to all our visitors at this Virtual Retreat Center.
This website has helped develop my personal interest in nature photography (which you can follow on Instragram), but I never thought that I would move beyond pretty scenery to an appreciation of abstract patterns and even of scenes that might not seem beautiful at all at first glance. Recently I found myself at my local park, avidly snapping photos of dramatic and colorful thorn branches amid the dull hues of early winter. I marveled at their patterns, designs and colors, revealed when their leaves dropped off for winter. This reminded me of a Midrash about the burning bush, an episode which comes up in this week’s Torah portion. It inspired me to create this new Gallery: Inspiration at a Thornbush. Where else could it belong but the Gateway of Wilderness?
Each complete Gateway Page at Wellsprings of Wisdom includes a Sharing Circle post where you are invited to share your own experiences of that symbol in Nature. I’ve just added the latest Sharing Circle to the almost-complete Gateway of the Moon.
I hope that you will connect with me, your guide, and the Wellsprings community of seekers, by visiting to the Sharing Circle post at the bottom of each Gateway page (or find them all at once here). There you can share your own experiences in nature. (Of course, you are also invited to comment on other posts!) Some Circles have already gotten insightful comments, while others are still waiting expectantly for what you have to say. I try to personally reply to most comments and also welcome you to reply thoughtfully and kindly to comments by other users. I truly hope that Wellsprings will develop a community of learners and seekers so that the site become interactive and participatory as well as educational and inspirational.
With a couple more posts, the new Gateway of the Moon will be “complete” (though I continue to add to and enhance “completed” Gateways over time), and I plan to send a one page email newsletter to subscribers letting you know what’s new at Wellsprings. Sign up for the mini-newsletter using the form at the top of the What’s New Page so that we can keep in occasional touch on our journeys. Won’t flood your in box or share your info!
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Blessings for a Hanukkah filled with light and joy. You can find several Hanukkah related paths (posts) on Wellsprings of Wisdom from various teachers. Learn about:
And as we embark on the New Secular/Solar Year, Find the Hidden Holiness.
I am continuing to build the Gateway of the Moon, with a goal of finishing it in 2017!
New Post about Rosh Hodesh (also spelled Rosh Chodesh), has been added. It’s all about the Jewish celebration of the New Month as an ancient and contemporary festival for women, for families, for everyone! Find this new pathway in the rapidly growing Gateway of the Moon.
I’ve also been continuing to update the Resource Guides, both for online resources and for real-world Jewish retreat centers, outdoor adventures, and organic farms.
I’m so honored that Rabbi Rachel Barenblat has allowed me to share a post from her celebrated blog, The Velveteen Rabbi. Since we are both transplanted Texans (myself via California) to the U.S. Northeast, I really resonated with Rachel’s feelings about New England’s “Stick Season,” in late autumn, when the trees are bare of colorful leaves but before the first snowfall coats them with glistening white. She has learned to treasure the dormancy and subtle beauty of this time of year, encouraging us to be fully present and learn from each season as we live it. Contemplate her gentle reflections on “Stick Season,” a new pathway in the Gateway of Seasons.
I have also added a new picture on that Gateway page that shows one of my favorite trees through three seasons of the year.
Here’s my instagram photo of a local tree in full autumn glory and then a week later in its bare leafless beauty:
Just added a cool animation to the Gateway of the Moon. When you click on it, it will take you to a page on Wikipedia that explains the phases of the moon. (The animation is a public domain gif file from that page.)