8/30/2009

Baruchah!



Baruk etah Adonai h'Olam! Blessed are you, Lord of all Creation!

What audacious blessing from the Hebrew Prayer Book is this? We do not ask for God's blessing. We bless Him from whom all blessings flow! What creature has been blessed deeply enough to bless the Creator?

The lion cannot do it, the orchid cannot do it, the sun cannot do it, nor the galaxy; creatures mightier and more lovely than Man, but with no voice of praise! Only one small otherwise worthless creature can do this thing, can bless the Blessed One.

Ever creature has a purpose. The lilac's purpose is releasing fragrance and seed, the lioness hunts to feed her cubs, the cloud brings rain to fields of wheat. But what is the purpose of a woman and a man?

We cannot bring rain. We hunt not nearly so well as the lion. We release no lilac fragrance, nor till a garden as well as a worm. So inept we are at the tasks of other creatures, that we employ their skills and strengths to sustain us. We took the power of the ox, the swiftness of the horse, the warmth of sheep's wool, the oil of whales to light our lamps, the feather of a bird for our arrow's flight. But there was a single task that these creatures could not do; a task which no mountain, or cloud, or star could accomplish: to be aware!

Only to be aware is the priestly function of the human creature. Humans are priests who perform the function of awareness on behalf of all creation. Only we, inept at every other task, become empty vessels of awareness, filled with gratitude for the gifts of God. To perceive things, just as they are, and offer them back in moments of thanksgiving: this is the task you have given me, O Lord. This is my purpose, O God, my only purpose.

The sudden sight of the moon slipping from a cloud, the glistening of a raindrop on the violet's tip, the bell of a wood-thrush, the silken touch of morning breeze: these are your offerings to me, that I may make them offerings to You, in the holy sacrament of perception. I gaze upon the violet, I enter the lingering echo of the thrush. In the fiery silence of my pure attention, the world is abstracted to its Maker, creatureliness dissolves, matter turns to Spirit, thingness of flower to no-thingness of God. Consciousness in me completes your creation, O Lord, returns your out-pouring Word as my word of praise. Were I not grateful, all creation would yet be still-born, a broken circle, a circuit shorted out.

Whatever else I do for work, my real vocation is looking, listening, touching the world, consuming its forms in the formless radiance of awareness.

This is the secret of your love, the secret of your humbleness, O God. I am not blessed without You: yet You are not blessed without Me! Breathing in, behold, I am blessed. Breathing out, behold, I bless You.


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