Kavanah: Our Spiritual Intention

This letter, sent to community members prior to our 2009 encampment, helps express the kavanah - spiritual intention -- of Passover Village.

Shalom Haverim,

We will soon be returning to our “home” in Joshua Tree for our 14th (!) desert Pesach together. Thanks to Dan’s never-ending care and commitment to this community, we will gather once again in XXXX campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park. The rocks and earth of our “home” site beckon us to return for another year of earth-based ritual, prayer, camping, and being together.

Once again, we remember that Pesach is a time to renew our connections with our ancestors as we explore our ancient roots in ritual fashion. We are instructed to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt as if we ourselves had gone out from that “narrow place” over 3000 years ago. It is a time to reflect on the meaning of slavery and freedom, oppression and transcendence, repression and growth. We celebrate what it means to be a people dedicated to service of הוהי/ם׳הלא, and renew our connection with the story and the people with whom it all began. [Apology for the backwards Hebrew, a technical glitch.]

In addition to these general themes of Passover, our particular group seeks to explore the connection to our people’s past as an indigenous people.  That is to say, what does it mean to be a Hebrew - an   ירבע / a boundary crosser - one of the Children of Israel, an indigenous tribal people who lived day to day connected intimately to the land and to nature?  This was our group’s initial motivation for holding Seder on the land, in the desert, much as our ancestors must have experienced it. 

Each year we establish our “ Passover Village” for the weekend, where we enjoy each other’s presence and spirits in a cooperative, and heart-felt endeavor.  Our vision is to create a place in which we all dwell together as Brothers and Sisters, in which each Soul is fully seen, recognized, and acknowledged, creating a lattice of contribution, in which each person serves a different role, a vital role in the community aligned as much as possible to his/her core self. 

Each year we also add a bit of community Kavanah  (spiritual intention) to our Seder weekend to explore our tribal history together.   Last year, again setting up our Seder ritual space in accordance with the dimensions of the ancient Tabernacle, surrounded by the flags and banners of the 12 Tribes, we experienced deep and very personal teachings about the character and nature of the prophet Elijah, as well as the character of the 4 lead Tribes.  We each took home from our Seder weekend our own very particular lesson and understanding of these tribes, Elijah, and ourselves. 

For this year’s kavanah, we want to further explore the archetypal nature of our ancestors, to see what lessons we can derive from their lives that will inform our own lives.  At the conclusion of last year’s event, one suggestion was to examine our ancestor for whom our camping site is named: Joshua.  Over the past 9 months, a small group of Villagers have been meeting each month to study the Book of Joshua, seeking teachings and understandings of Joshua, the person, as well as the events of his time, which could inform our gathering this year.  In terms of Joshua, we can explore:
·      what it means to be a true Disciple, to take on the mantle of leadership
·      what it means to be a Prophet Warrior in the Hebrew tradition

An examination of the Book of Joshua leads to a number of interesting insights which will infuse our gathering with additional meaning.  As one reads the stories, one is struck time and again of the parallels with the story of the Exodus.  Leaving Egypt was, of course, the first Pesach.  On the flip side of 40 years in the wilderness, the Children of Israel entered the land of Israel in the Pesach season, in fact celebrating with a Seder on the eve of entry, the people baking matzah from the grain of the earth as their supply of Mannah ran out.  The crossing of the Jordan River, which stood up in a column as the Cohanim entered the waters carrying the Ark, was a mirror-image to the escape from Egypt through the dry bed of the Red Sea.  What are we to make of these mirrored reflections in the stories?  What is the mystical understanding and difference in the crossing of the Red Sea into Sinai compared to the crossing of the Jordan into Israel?    Finally, the stories relating to the conquest of the land and the indigenous inhabitants by Joshua’s army, brutal and at times uncompromising in its depictions, raise questions relevant to today as the dust settles on a bloodied Gaza: Can we coexist in close proximity with other people?  How do we do that?  What can our ancient stories, our mythology, teach us about that?

We are indeed a fortunate People to have so much of our ancient history written and available to us.  As we gather this year among the stones of Joshua Tree, and among the memories that we have built over the preceding 13 years, we will celebrate the freedom that we hold so dear, and again learn from one another what it means to be a people connected to the earth, to our ancestors, to Spirit, and to the best within each of us and each of our fellow human beings.

Shalom U’L’hitraot – see you in the desert!

No comments:

Post a Comment