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Sunday, 21 Dec 2014

Middle School Odyssey 2014

River of Spirit Day 6

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Sri Lakshmi Hindu Temple

Faneuil Hall and Harvard Square

Eucharist Service, Society of St. John the Evangelist

Compline Service, Society of St. John the Evangelist

* * *

Windows of stained glass

Finding calmness all around you

And the color so bright and so beautiful

But it all fades into darkness

The stained glass windows are no longer filled with joy

They just disappear with the light of day

And the men and women scurry back to their homes

And fall into a deep sleep

Until the darkness becomes light once more.


Religion, oh religion! So many religions. They have the same mission: why fight when you can pray?


A building within a building

Creatures of stone within stone

Milk mixed with powered

Holy water, holy fire

Complication and precision

Bindied statues with cloaks of color

A world within a world


[Inspired by the Holocaust Memorial near Faneuil Hall]

Walking through the arches of glass

Steam creeping up towards the sky

With the numbers running up and down

And side to side

The Holocaust: a time to remember.


As our journey is coming to an end, there are two things that keep surfacing in my head: that I just need to live my life and not really worry about the future. I also thought about how much I like people and the amazing memories that can be created when you are with people.


I walked into Sri Lakshmi temple and was sped away to a near world

Where there was beautiful wealth among us

Filled with magical artifacts

And spectacular beliefs surrounding them

And it seemed the priests were gazing into

A great or maybe greater world


Life revolving around a prayer, a god, a Messiah

Devoted to a life of dreams and words

Words that tell so much

Old words tired from the weight of being relied on

Like a pillar used for resting our backs on

The person feeling secure

And the pillar holding us up.


River of Spirit Day 5

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River of Spirit - Day 5

New Bridge on the Charles – Hebrew Senior Life

Visit with Holocaust survivors

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Tour of art and religion and time to sketch

A bit of a down town wander

* * *

When we listened to the three men talk about their early lives, my feelings went up and down. At one moment I would be happy they made it and continued living their lives, and then sad because of how much they lost and had to go through. It’s really great how we got the chance to meet these people because someday they will all be gone. It wouldn’t be the same to read about their lives then to actually listen to them talk about it with all the emotion.


Stories being told

All of grief and solitude

Some painfully obvious

And some hidden in plain sight.


Digging Your Own Grave

Shovel in hand

Behind you is a gun

And hiding behind the gun is a man

On your head rests one million tons of burning fear

Before you lies your day’s work

A pit

There is no headstone

Height: about as tall as a man

Width: equal to yours

Depth: six feet

There is no headstone


I really loved the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. I loved how the museum felt so personal because she made it how she wanted it to be seen. When we were in the tour and when we were alone, I felt her presence. The first time I felt it was standing in front of her portrait. It was so powerful thinking of her in her space, seeing what I as seeing. One way this connects to our study is that Isabella appreciated all religions and had art from many, like a statue of the Buddha and an appreciation of the Koran even though she was Christian.


Ode To Isabella

Isabella is a busy boss

Gliding down her courtyard

Floating in victorian dresses

Relishing in her castle of crucifixions

Nothing will be touched


River of Spirit Day 4

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River of Spirit - Day 4

Morning service at Emmanuel Church

Bach Cantata BWV 42

Common Cathedral – Brewer Fountain in Boston Common, an outreach mass specifically for the large homeless population, many people attend.

A conversation with the Reverend Pamela Werntz of Emmanuel Church

“Blue Man Group”

Trinity Church –  Taize Service

* * *

Trinity Church: Breathing, here, now in the feeling of an open space, and the cool freeness of the candles. Soon, a soothing hum is laid into my ears and a song soon fills the space with fluent voices of a community and peace. The candles are cupped over with a ring and a puff of a golden bell, and the peace is still within the room of darkness.


The Common Cathedral was a super powerful experience for me. It was amazing to see how people who had nothing could still have faith. It reminded me of how the message of the Bible is about loving everyone, especially people who really need love. I thought it was interesting how they applied the story of doubting Thomas to who we need to be responsible to our community.


I was saddened but at the same time inspired to see people with nothing uniting under one God [at the Common Cathedral]. It was very hard to hear the struggle in the people’s voices and see it in their eyes. It was a very new and influential experience for me to converse and see people who are living such different lives as mine. I wanted to open my arms and give them a big hug, but honestly I was scared.


Everything comes full circle. I remember when I was little and I wanted to become a Christian. That was what I wanted my whole life to be. But then for some reason I stopped the praying and beloving. It was over. But over this whole study of religion, not just the Odyssey, I have found myself reawakening the part that prayed and wanted so much for God to be real. Although I might not feel it as strongly as I did, something today moved me.



Holding hands

Entwined by hope

While the city pumps

The port-a-potties


When the music started, I began my journey. I rowed out in a caracole to a frigate that carried me away past the walls of the cathedral’s earthly limitations. Everything outside the stone walls was eroded away by the water in the ocean of music and the enclosed area became as vast as the perpetual secrets of ancient thoughts. So the tables turned. We had switched places, the church and I. I was quiet observing as they parted in a wordless conversation, and I began to dream. The melody, joyfully canted, became a bright sunset to a dynamic shrouded forest of darkness.


River of Spirit Day 3

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River of Spirit - Day 3

Morning Shabbat at the Ohaibei Shalom Temple

Conversation with Cantor Schloss

Thousand Buddha Temple

Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral

Robert M. Arida and attend Vigil for the Resurrection

* * *

Buddhism: A winding river of music runs over a solid chant. The music seemed like chaos, but as I listened more, they formed a rhythm that you had to cling onto or else you would lose it. And I breathed 32 times in 10-15 minutes, just for the record…


The cantor [at Temple Ohabei Shalom] said that he thinks it is important to do interfaith work, and Rabbi Moshe [at Temple Beth Zion] and Father Arida [at Holy Trinity] also mentioned this. I think that the religions are all so similar and they don’t always realize it.


The pain in my legs keeps me going

Watching this awe inspiring ceremony

In an incense fogged room

Singing melodies of their Lord with gusto

Then it hits me

This isn’t just a religion

It’s a way of life.


Fast talkers, fast walkers

The quickest tour around

A Thousand Buddhas, open hall

Many kinds of sounds

Anticipation with translation

And a minute’s worth of meditation.


Pain hurts

Trying to let it go

God looking down

People looking down at God

Buddha is in you if you let him in to your life


I was moved by the choir at Holy Trinity, and by all the people who actually seemed to know what they were doing. And then there was us.


We Chant at 1000 Buddha Temple

River of Spirit Day 2

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Day 2 - River of Spirit

Tour of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center Muslim American Society

Call to Prayer and Salaat.

Conversation with Reb Moshe of the Temple Beth Zion

Shabbat service

* * *

The main idea I got from today was to find true bliss you have to become detached from your senses. One example of that was how when we were in the mosque, and in the sermon that was talking about how you still have to be grateful even when you have nothing, and no matter how much faith you have, you still have to be humble.


My eyes not only opened to the religions today, but their music, to their sounds, and what flowed through them. The oneness I felt at the temple through the harmony of voices, or the dumbfounded silence when I listened to the call to prayer at the mosque.


The past couple of days have given me a sense of humanity I haven’t felt since Alabama.


Slipping inside to the Muslim identity, wrapped in an icon of their faith, and experiencing belief resonating in their hearts, I felt something I had never before. I was surrounded by prayer and a beautiful, echoing dome.


As they let their fluent tongues role,

Their bodies sway.

As they take their prayers to Mecca,

Their music takes them away.


Judaism: Everyone was so warm and welcoming. I felt like I was sitting next to a fire, but in this case it was a fire of love.


Feet just learning how to move

Legs too weak to stand

Hands innocent and unseen

Arms creased with time and worry

All gathered under one roof, one sky, one God



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