Today’s Word from Sheila Weidendorf…
As I write this, the season of Advent (my favorite in the liturgical year!) has come and gone, and Christmastide is all but concluded. 2021 has tucked itself into the recesses of memory as we herald in a new year—a fresh start, a new beginning—and now Epiphany is upon us.
Epiphany! I love that word! It comes from the Greek “epiphaneia,” meaning “manifestation,” and refers to something being made manifest or coming into view; in the Christian sense it refers to God made manifest in the infant Jesus—the indwelling of God in and amongst us.
A personal epiphany can be a kind of revelatory discovery—the “Aha!” moment when we come to inner awareness—when we “see the light,” when we become enlightened, or made full of light.
Among the many names of Christ, my favorite is “The Light of the World.” It is in the book of John (8:12) wherein Jesus is recorded as saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In this way, Jesus could be understood to be the ultimate Guru—literally translated from ancient Sanskrit—the “dispeller of darkness.” The Guru—Christ—is one who brings the devoted from darkness.
As many of you know, I have deep ties to India. I have a home and, in fact, a husband there whom I have not seen in two years due to Covid. In a week’s time, however, I am heading back to the land of my heart to spend a month with my Beloved, relaxing in the desert sun at our farmhouse and touring about a bit to visit friends and music colleagues and, yes, to spend some immersion time with my soul.
My connections to India are many—personal, musical, and yes—deeply spiritual. India is a land of devotion and grace which aﬀords many an opportunity for humble reconciliation with the holy—both within and without. It is a place where one can readily see the Light (assuming one is paying attention!) that manifests in many forms.
So today, as I write about Epiphany, about God made manifest for us and in us as the Christed Light of the World—and as I am thick in the throes of preparations for my travels—I decided to share two pieces of devotional music today.
The first is the Lord’s Prayer sung in Jesus’ own language of Aramaic by the artist Angelika. It is a hauntingly beautiful rendition (View at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QALxIRyg7tI) The Lord’s prayer—when translated directly from the Aramaic—reveals a diﬀerent understanding than that with which we are familiar. As translated by the renowned religious scholar Neil Douglas-Klotz, we get a glimpse of a broader understanding of God.
The Lord’s Prayer as we know it begins with, “Our Father.” But according to Douglas-Klotz, “the actual Aramaic transliteration is ‘Abwoon’ which is a blending of ‘abba (father)’ and ‘woon’ (womb), Jesus’s recognition of the masculine and feminine source of creation. On his website, https://abwoon.org, he oﬀers this translation from Aramaic:
O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos, you create all that moves in light.
Hallowed be thy name:
Focus your light within us — make it useful: as the rays of a beacon show the way.
Thy kingdom come:
Unite our “I can” to yours, so that we walk as kings and queens with every creature.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven:
Create in me a divine cooperation — from many selves, one voice, one action.
Give us this day our daily bread:
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors:
Forgive our hidden past, the secret shames, as we consistently forgive what others hide.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil:
Deceived neither by the outer nor the inner — free us to walk your path with joy.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever:
From you is born all ruling will, the power and life to do, the song that beautifies all from age to age it renews. Amen.
Such an intimate prayer, a walking in the Light of God on Earth as we go about our Earthly business!
The second little piece of devotional music is the Sanskrit Gayatri Mantra, in light of my forthcoming journey. Mantras are prayers, yes, but their power and significance is not simply in the text. The potency of the mantra (traditionally given to a devotee by the Guru as that devotee is led into Light) is in the resonance of the syllables themselves—a sort of enlightening vibrational essence taken into one’s own Being in the chanting.
The Great Gayatri Mantra has many translations, but I will oﬀer this one in light of our exploration of…The Light!
Text in Sanskrit:
om buur bhuvah svah tat savitur varenyam bhargo devaysa dhimahi
chino yo nay prachodayat Om….
We meditate on the eﬀulgent glory of the Divine Light, that our understanding may be inspired.
Indeed. May blessings of Light and Love eternal abound this Epiphany and throughout the New Year. Thank you all for this wonderful community of God, and accepting me into its fold. My next writing here will be from India….
Much Love, Sheila
Click the link to hear my version of the Great Gayatri mantra.