Kavanah: Our Spiritual Intention
This letter, sent to community members prior to our 2009 encampment, helps express the kavanah - spiritual intention -- of Passover Village.
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 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.
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!