February 20th

        Celtic Spirituality with Jeanne Crane 

Thanks to Jeanne Crane for a wonderful interactive presentation on the 'thin places'!                Here's a link to her website celticspiritbooks.com/ and the place to share your experience of the thin places.

Women’s Interfaith Institute Celebrates Celtic Spirituality

The February program of Women’s Interfaith Institute will honor Celtic spirituality.  Jeanne Crane,  author of Celtic Spirit- A Wee Journey to the Heart of It All, will share her experiences on the power of some of the places in Ireland called ‘thin places’ that led her to a deeper level of spiritual practice.  These places, long home to Irish mystics and poets, are holy and sacred, a place of transcendence, where one can sense the Divine and feel lifted up. The term can also refer to a place where the veil is thin, where there is a gateway to the Other World or portal to the Fairy Kingdom. Still others use it to  refer to the notion of vortexes or sites where they experience a vibrational, mystical energy. Some thin sites are natural, some built by the Church, and still others made by ancient peoples who somehow knew how to channel the light of sun and moon and stars. All provide the visitor with an awesome sense of the mystery and wonder of the Universe.
Jeanne’s message will also integrate discussion about the energy of the Divine Feminine and its central role in the wisdom of the ancient mysteries, the worship of the Goddess, and Celtic Christianity.

Jeanne Crane (www.JeanneCrane.com) is a life coach, organizational consultant, and change facilitator.  She has been traveling to Ireland since her teen years, but experienced Celtic spirituality as the heart of her spiritual transformation decades later when she was introduced to the ancient sites, the dolmens, standing stones and beehive structures.  The inspiration for her book came in meditation at Glendalough, when she sensed the need to tell a story of the universality of Spirit.  Besides her Celtic practice, Jeanne’s spiritual home is Unitarian Universalism.

Guests are asked to arrive at 5:45 pm and bring a dish to share for a pot luck dinner which begins at 6 p.m.; Jeanne’s program begins at 7 pm. WII’s monthly gatherings meet at the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge, 4 Main Street, Stockbridge, MA. All are welcome; suggested donation for non-members is $5-10.

Share a Prayer

Mokichi Okada

Board member AnnE O'Neil closed our January gathering with a powerful prayer about Paradise on Earth written by Mokichi Okada.
Great God of Light,
We behold your plan unfolding
Whereby all spiritual clouds are dispelled,
Impurity and error cleansed from the realms of spirit and matter.

The age of Light and joy is being born. 
Through your infinite compassion,
misguided forces waken unto truth and negative practices cease
while forces of Light unhindered restore the world to peace.

All of nature receives your loving influence and finds its rightful place.
Peaceful clouds move across brilliant skies and the fragrance of countless flowers floats upon the air.
Abundant harvests glorify the Earth, every corner filled with happy voices.
Boundaries between countries vanish and ancient conflicts disappear as if dreams.

All people are united,
encircled by your Light and guided by your wisdom.
Through service to humanity,
all are blessed with health, peace, and prosperity.

Great God of Light,
Strengthen us with courage and wisdom to follow your will
And realize Paradise on Earth. 

-          Prayer from the Johrei tradition

Okada was a Japanese man who lived from 1882-1955 and was the founder of the Johrei tradition. Okada was a poet, artist, mystic, visionary, businessman, husband, father, and spiritual teacher.

His vision was to create a world of peace, health, and prosperity for us all — a paradise on earth. 

What are some of your favorite prayers? 

Wendy A. Rabinowitz sent in...
i thank you god
for most this
amazing day for the
leaping greenly spirits
of trees and the
blue true dream of
sky and for everything
that is natural that is
infinite that
is yes

I who have died am
alive again today and
this is the sun's birthday
this is the birthday of
light and of love and
of the gay, great happening
illimitable earth

how should tasting touching breathing merely human being
doubt unimaginable you

now the ears of my ears
awake and the eyes of
my eyes are open

poem by ee cummings

Here's a resource for Sufi prayers written by Hazrat Inayat Khan.
One of my favorite prayers is Saum.

Praise be to Thee, Most Supreme God,
Omnipotent, Omnipresent, All-pervading, the Only Being. Take us in Thy Parental Arms,
Raise us from the denseness of the earth. Thy Beauty do we worship,
To Thee do we give willing surrender, Most Merciful and Compassionate God,
The Idealized Lord of the whole humanity.
Thee only do we worship; and towards Thee alone we aspire.
Open our hearts towards Thy Beauty, Illuminate our souls with Divine Light,
O Thou, the Perfection of Love, Harmony and Beauty!
All-powerful Creator, Sustainer, Judge and Forgiver of our shortcomings,
Lord God of the East and of the West, of the worlds above and below,
And of the seen and unseen beings,
Pour upon us Thy Love and Thy Light, Give sustenance to our bodies, hearts and souls.
Use us for the purpose that Thy Wisdom chooseth,
And guide us on the path of Thine Own Goodness.
Draw us closer to Thee every moment of our life,
Until in us be reflected Thy Grace, Thy Glory, Thy Wisdom, Thy Joy and Thy Peace.

Please join us in supporting these two upcoming community events. Women's Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires is proud to be a co-sponsor of these events that celebrate our interconnectedness.
14thAnnual Interfaith Celebration of the
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday

Interfaith Prayers, Readings, Music, Singing

Featuring Youth from Local Community Groups:
Greenagers, Multicultural BRIDGE Youth Corps, Railroad Street Youth Project

Monday, January 21, 2013
Interfaith Service and Reception
12:00 Noon - 1:00PM

First Congregational Church (Parish Hall)
251 Main Street, Great Barrington

 Spiritual Views on Death and the Afterlife
An Interfaith Forum

This interfaith forum will present the spiritual beliefs and rituals related to the process of dying, death and the after-life as understood by many of our world religions. Presenters will include a panel of local clergy from the Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Christian Community, Muslim and Buddhist faith traditions. Topics to be explored will include: customs surrounding care for the deceased; the journey of the soul after death; the relationship between the living and the dead; and what these traditions teach regarding preparation for this ultimate transition.

Sunday Feb. 3, 2013
1:30 - 4:00PM
 Fee: $10/person

Berkshire South Regional Community Center,
Great Barrington, MA

The Rev. Mr. Charles Van Ausdall, Congregational Church UCC
Ann-Elizabeth Barnes, Sacred Undertaking
Sharon Coleman, PhD,  Zen/Vietnamese Buddhism
Imam Salim Chishti,  Islam
Sister Colette Hanlon,  Catholicism
The Rev. Liza Marcato, Christian Community, Movement for Religious Renewal
Rabbi Kaya Stern-Kaufman, Judaism

Moderator: Deborah Golden Alecson, MS
           Adjunct Faculty, School of Health Sciences,Excelsior College, Albany, NY

For more information please contact:
Deborah Golden Alecson  413 881-4065, DAlecson@msn.com
                 Rabbi Kaya Stern-Kaufman  413-274-1034, info@rimonberkshires.org

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
Life, Death and Transformation in the Americas Huastec “Life-Death Figure” (A.D. 900-1250, Mexico), and “Wild Man Mask” (1970, Canada), by John Livingston, at the Brooklyn Museum.

recent NYTimes article of interest: Life, Death and Transformation at the Brooklyn Museum

sent in by K. Furlong


Quoting from the book of Job, Wendy Rabinowitz said:
"Look to the earth, and it shall lead you."

Former WII board member Wendy Rabinowitz weaves and hand-letters tapestries with roots in Jewish traditions. (Courtesy photo by Susan Geller)
read article here:

Berkshire artist Wendy Rabinowitz weaves ‘Shalom' exhibit - Berkshire Eagle Online

  What: 'Shalom: Weaving the Threads of Peace'
Where: Farber/Miness Gallery at the Ludwig Schenectady Jewish Community Center, 2565 Ballstown Road, Niskayuna, N.Y.
When: Through Feb. 28.
Wendy Rabinowitz will speak about her work on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m.
Admission: Free
Information: living threads judaica1
Rabinowitz will also display weaving/mixed-media assemblage worrk, her work, ‘Lillith,' in ‘Growl,' the Women's Caucus for Art exhibit juried by Saisha M. Grayson from the Brooklyn Museum, at the Karl Drerup Art Gallery Plymouth, N.H., from Feb. 5 to March 15.