Last Saturday evening (June 13, 2009) the Faith House Living Room gathering was focused around an exquisite little treasure of literature integral to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and all people who love Love. Check out the pics. Over the years, our director Bowie Snodgrass has become an expert in this piece of literature and has developed an amazingly simple way to experience the seductiveness of God. Here is the outline that she has created and we utilized, which includes the entire text of the book. I hope you will catch another opportunity to hear Bowie leading this ritual. The second best would be to do it yourself in your synagogue, church, mosque, local library, or with friends! The story of the Universe is a love story and your own experiences of love with people around you (your lovers, friends, children, parents, neighbors) are all retelling that story of the Universe. To the intoxication! (~ Samir Selmanovic)
PRELUDE – Play music inspired by the Song of Songs while people gather
WELCOME & INTRODUCTION – Bowie Snodgrass (5-10 min)
OPENING TOUCH & SMELL – Pass around Frankincense & Myrrh or Pomegranate scented Lotion for people to put on themselves
BACKGROUND ON SONG OF SONGS – Poet Harry Ellison on importance of Song of Songs in Jewish history and as a source of inspiration for spiritual lovers of God, artists, poets, and in his own life. (5 min)
MOMENT OF SILENT ANTICIPATION (1 min)
RITUALIZED READING – See script below (20-25 min)
COMMUNITY SHARING – People share around their table or in small groups (10 min) then share with whole group (10 min)
CLOSING – Smell spices (like in a Havdalah service)
POSTLUDE – Play recorded music inspired by the Song of Songs
Approximate Running Time: 1 hour
* * *
The Song of Songs
1 Royal Messenger (male or female)
• Script with full text of Song of Songs for readers. Recommended that people listen to readers, rather than read text in a bulletin. We used the JPS Translation, with selections from a translation by Union Theological Seminary professor, David Carr
• Posters, or projections, or leaflets with activities and verses everyone reads together
• Scented lotion, preferably with scents from the Song, e.g. Pomegranate or Myrrh
• Drinks to sip, wine and/or milk & honey and/or pomegranate juice
• Fruits to eat, fresh or dried, e.g. apples, apricots, grapes, dates
• Images, e.g. prints of paintings inspired by the Song of Songs; we used images of flowers by Sadie Rosenthal
• Fragrant spices, e.g. cloves, cardamom
• NOTE: The place we met did not allow candles or incense. I recommend adding them somewhere below if allowed.
The Song of Songs, by Solomon.
[speaking to male]
Oh, give me of the kisses of your mouth,
For your love is more delightful than wine.
Your ointments yield a sweet fragrance,
Your name is like finest oil—
That’s why the young women love you.
Draw me after you, let us run!
Bring me, O King, to your chambers.
Let us delight and rejoice in your love,
Savoring it more than wine—
Like new wine they love you!
[speaking to women in the room]
I am black, and beautiful
O daughters of Jerusalem—
Like the tents of Kedar’s nomads,
Like the tapestries of Solomon.
Don’t stare only at my blackness,
That the sun has gazed upon me.
My mother’s sons quarreled with me,
They made me guard the vineyards;
My own vineyard I did not guard.
[speaking to male]
Tell me, my true love;
Where do you pasture?
Where do you rest … at noon?
Let me not be as one who strays
By your friends’ flocks.
If you do not know, O fairest of women,
Go follow the tracks of the flock,
And graze your own goats
By the tents of the shepherds.
I have likened you, my darling,
To a mare driving Pharaoh’s chariots wild:
Your cheeks are spectacular in bangles,
Your neck in strings of jewels.
Let us make gold circlets for you
With points of silver!
While the king was on his couch,
My nard gave forth its fragrance.
My beloved to me is an amulet of myrrh
Lodged between my breasts.
My beloved to me is a cluster of henna blooms
From the vineyards of Ein Gedi.
Oh, you are beautiful, my darling,
You are so beautiful, with your dove-like eyes!
And you, my beloved, are handsome,
Our bed is luxuriant foliage,
Cedars are the beams of our house,
Cypresses the rafters.
I am a rose of Sharon,
A lily of the valleys.
Like a lily among thorns,
So is my darling among the young women.
Like an apricot tree among trees of the forest,
So is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
And his fruit is sweet to my mouth.
He brought me to the banquet room
And his banner of love was over me.
LOOK – CLOSE YOUR EYES AND VISUALIZE FOLLOWING PASSAGE
FEMALE 2: Song of Songs 2:5-14
ALL READ TOGETHER:
Catch us the foxes,
The little foxes
That ruin the vineyards—
For our vineyard is in blossom.
FEMALE 3: Song of Songs 2:16-3:5
Who is she that comes up from the desert
Like columns of smoke,
In clouds of myrrh and frankincense,
All sorts of merchant dust?
ROYAL MESSENGER: Song of Songs 3:7-11
DRINK – SIP WINE or MILK AND HONEY or POMEGRANATE JUICE DURING THE NEXT PASSAGE
MALE 2: Song of Songs 4:1-15
Awake, O north wind,
Come, O south wind!
Breathe on my garden,
That its perfume may spread.
Let my beloved come to his garden
And enjoy its luscious fruits!
I have come to my garden,
My own, my bride;
I have plucked my myrrh and spices,
Eaten my honey and honeycomb,
Drunk my wine and my milk.
Eat, lovers, and drink:
Drink deep of love!
SENSE OF BALANCE – STAND UP, STRETCH AS IF WAKING, THEN SIT AGAIN
FEMALE 4: Song of Songs 5:2-8
How is your beloved better than another,
O fairest of women?
How is your beloved better than another
That you adjure us so?
FEMALE 4: Song of Songs 5:10-15
“Where did your love go,
O fairest of women?
Where has your beloved turned?
Let us seek him with you.”
FEMALE 4: Song of Songs 6:2-3
MALE 3: Song of Songs 6:4-9
Who is she that shines through like the dawn,
Beautiful as the moon,
Radiant as the sun
Awesome as bannered hosts?
MALE 3: Song of Songs 6:11-12
Return, Return, Shulamite!
Return, so that we may gaze upon you.
TASTE – PASS AROUND GRAPES, APRICOTS & DATES
MALE 4: Song of Songs 7:1b-10
SEE – PASS AROUND IMAGES
FEMALE 5: Song of Songs 7:11-14
Who is she that comes up from the desert,
Leaning upon her beloved?
Under the apricot tree I “awakened” you;
At the very place your mother conceived you,
There she conceived and there she bore you.
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm.
For love is as fierce as death,
Bitter as Sheol is jealousy.
Its tongues are tongues of flame,
Mighty waters cannot extinguish love,
Nor can rivers drown it.
If someone offered all his wealth for love,
He would be laughed to scorn.
“We have a little sister,
And she has no breasts,
What shall we do for our sister
On the day she is spoken for?
If she is a city wall,
We shall build for her a silver turret;
But if she is a door,
We will board her up with a plank cedar.”
I am a city wall,
And my breasts are like towers.
So I became in his eyes
As one who finds favor.
Solomon had a vineyard
He had to post guards in the vineyard:
A man would give for its fruit
A thousand pieces of silver.
I have my very own vineyard:
Solomon, the thousand silver pieces are yours,
And two hundred a piece to those who guard its fruit.
O you who linger in the garden,
A lover is listening;
Let me hear your voice.
Hurry, my beloved,
Swift as a gazelle or a young stag,
To the hills of spices!