Suddenly I felt a little numb and a deep pull down towards the earth; a heavy gravity. Maybe there was something to those vortexes in Sedona, which claim it is as a space, a place where spiraling energy can be felt more strongly and channeled into prayer, meditation and healing.
The trouble was that it didn’t feel good - just strong. And the next morning, a hike among the stark rocks and two cups of coffee couldn’t shake this heaviness pulling me down.
I am trying to sort out this chaos in my head and body with my husband when we get a phone call from our children, who were about 14 and 16. They had just come out of the Sedona Center for the New Age, and said we HAD to go and they both were grateful to be Jewish.
We couldn't imagine any place that would inspire that kind of call and headed right over.
When we entered the New Age Center, mood music played and it was intimate and expansive. So many things to look at. So many price tags. I cannot deny a powerful energy inside this space. I felt it press against me as I walked through the different rooms. Crystals and charms, carved idols and angel lined
every nook and cranny. People stood in line for aura readings and astrology charts, and picked psychics from
brochures. Salespeople couldn’t explain which carved deity meant what to whom or why. He was content
that people found meaning and comfort and he was there to help.
I went over to the large crystal ball and eyeballed it up close. I didn’t see Dorothy nor any mystical signs.
I mostly saw a reflection of myself and began to feel uncomfortable. It was like suddenly I could feel a regret in my heels and the need to walk away and ask God for forgiveness. I may have been a tourist but I hear the echo of the Second Commandment about "have no other gods in God's Presence." Right then and there I confirmed in my heart and soul my commitment to God of Abraham, God, Master of the Universe, Creator, God
of Moses, Who hears the people's cries and frees them from bondage.
By the time I get down the hall with a peak in a few other rooms, my whole body needs to leave. I commit myself on the step out, to writing away my guilt. It was a cultural experience not a religious one and nothing quite like contrast to teach personal truths and beliefs.
We all agreed when meeting up for lunch we had a feeling of peace in worshiping a God Who has no eyes, no face, no shape or form, without representation of any kind. We felt trust in our God Who sees us,
knows us, and comforts us. We felt confidence of knowing who we were as Jews as we watched a spectacular sunset through the big red Sedona rocks.
Now, we like going to Shabbat services whenever we travel. So that Friday night, we entered the white circular spacious sanctuary a sense of home as we saw the ark and the eternal light. Then the rabbi started playing guitar and the congregation started singing together Lecha Dodi to welcome the Sabbath then Shalom Alechem, welcoming the angels.
Let me tell you, singing about angels in Sedona take on a whole new meaning. Literally as I sang,
I could feel my spiritual self lifting up and the congregation too. We sang to God to bestow peace on
God’s angels, beseeching God's angels to bring with them peace, then seeking God's angels to bless us
with peace now and depart in peace. We felt the harmony, and in that Sedona way, could feel God's angels
in our midst.
The services and the rabbi, Alicia Magal, had a certain flare, too, with feminine meditations, a poetic tone and lots of references to our feelings. She chants some of the Torah portion using her beautiful voice and then sings a concise summary of it with the same intonations. Rather than talking, she sings blessings upon people.
At one point the rabbi gathers a group of congregants celebrating anniversaries, birthdays and upcoming travel into a group hug. She asks us to help her bless the group by stretching out our arms toward them while she sang the blessings. We follow her with arms outstretched extending blessings, sending joy, receiving joy, connecting.
We end the service holding hands in a chain throughout the sanctuary and sing Shabbat Shalom.
We are among our people. We are visitors but not strangers, for we share together our love and respect for
God and gratitude for Shabbat. Shabbat is our vortex, pulling our spiritual energy higher. God is our constant, eternal source of life and energy, renewing us each week with this time set aside for holiness.