Thursday, March 3, 2011

Four Songs

I came across this in the reading for one of my classes and just had to share. Abraham Isaac Kook, one of the most influential Rabbis of the 20th century, wrote a poem called “Four-fold Song.

First, there are those who sing the song of the individual. Our culture helps us sing this song very well. While this song tends to cut us off from our relationship with others and the world, it has made contributions to human rights, lifting up the value of each human being.

Second, there are those who sing the song of their own people. Those who sing this song have compassion on those who look, think, believe, or act like themselves. Families, cultures, and nations sing this song beautifully when they celebrate their relationships and stories. But when sung too loudly it can sound like excessive patriotism, classism, sexism, or racism.

Third, there is the song of all humanity. Many faith communities sing this song well, going beyond their own boundaries to reach out in justice and compassion. This song is often heard in homeless shelters, Habitat for Humanity projects, interfaith dialogue, by Doctors without Borders, the One campaign, and in many other places. It is a beautiful tune indeed. But there is yet one more song.

It is the song of all creation. It reflects the most expansive circle of compassion. You hear it in the Psalms like Psalm 148, when all creation praises God with one voice. In singing this song one recognizes the interconnectedness of all creation.

There is a time for each of these songs, but it is important that all are heard, so that “each one lends life and vitality to the other.”

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