Monthly Archives: May 2016

River of Spirit Odyssey – Day 6

Tuesday, May 10

10:00 – Sri Lakshmi Hindu Temple.

1:00 – Afternoon at Faneuil Hall

4:00 – Meet with Brother Luke and Brother Keith from the monastery of the Society of St. John 

5:30 – Eucharist Service, Society of St. John the Evangelist,

6:30 – Dinner in Harvard Square

Return to Friendly Crossways – journal, sing, sleep


At Emmanuel I felt so at home, everything felt familiar so it was easy for me to focus on the service. Singing in the beautiful church with that vibrant community really spoke to me. In that service, I felt as if I was praying with/beside God instead of to him.

Lucy F.

The room was filled with deeply scented smoke and my nose was busy stuck up in the air. The thick blue book was open to some sacred page and the words flowed from them up through human hearts and out into the high asking dome where God was sitting, watching.


This trip has pushed me to think of what is my faith and where is it leading me to and ,if I have faith, in what form is it in?


At the Compline service at the Trinity Church, I felt most connected to something. I don’t want to say God because I really don’t know what it was but it was something about hearing the voices and being able to close my eyes and just sit and listen.


I love the Compline service. I love darkness and solidarity and peace. And how this service is intimate and about your connection to God. It was the time I felt like God cared about our relationship.


The time I felt most close to God was at the beginning of Compline. It was a very brief moment. I was sitting down on the choir bench when I heard one of the most beautiful sounds that I have not yet heard.


When I saw people praying so powerfully and so focused, I felt like I was connecting through them to God and this is what happened at Common Cathedral.


I felt the most power of God at the Harvard Art Museum, seeing the paintings and the spirit, love, sadness, fear, or whatever the artist put into the painting. There were so many different kinds of art but they were all saying the same thing. All trying to express the same feeling of spirit and care in the work.

Lucy P.

At Temple Ohabei Shalom, I felt the chants rise up around, beautiful and so packed with meaning.


River of Spirit Odyssey – Day 5



Monday, May 9

Breakfast at Friendly Crossways

10:30 – Tour of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center

Lunch at café

12:55 Salaat Prayers

3:00 – Harvard Art Museum

6:00 Dinner – Harvard Square

Return to Friendly Crossways – journal, sing, sleep

I really liked the mosque we went to this morning. It was simple looking, but I thought it was a beautiful building and religion. The conversation with the students was really eye opening and wonderful. I had a conversation about our favorite books with them later. That was my favorite part of the day.


When we went to the mosque today, I found that some of my views on Islam were changed. I have always thought that hijab, on some level, represents the oppression of women, but now I understand that they d the opposite in a way. They are worn so that a woman’s personality is what matters and not her appearance.


Its as interesting to hear the students’ perspectives… At first, conversations were awkward because we didn’t really know what to talk about, but then it took off and we talked about celebrities and all the normal girl stuff, and I was like, “Wow, they are totally normal and a lot like me and my friends.”


I understand that women choose to wear head scarfs. I respect that. However, they talked about how women should wear them so they are not admired or harassed by men. This sincerely bothered me because women should not dress for men, and should not cover themselves so men won’t harass them.


If only we could put our stereotypes and labels away we could find peace and acceptance among people no matter their gender, religion or appearance. At the center of all religions is peace, and I wish that could stay in all of our minds.


I thought when the kids came in I connected best. It was like someone who was the same age, who knew about social media and the same kind of music, but had a whole different community and lifestyle. Something that felt so foreign to e now feels like some thing I could be a part of.


I also thought it was weird how when someone who isn’t Muslim commits some sort of killing, it’s just a criminal act, but when a Muslim does it, it’s considered “terrorism”. It just goes to show how manipulative the media can be.


I found that wearing the head scarf connected me more into the culture, yet I feel not participating and it being a silent service that set me farther away from understanding.


After the mosque we headed to the Harvard Art Museum which was amazing. I loved just being able to relax and enjoy the beauty and spirit of creativity.



Emma does a little busking.

River of Spirit Odyssey – Day 4

Sunday, May 8

Breakfast at Friendly Crossways

10:00 – Morning service at Emmanuel Church,

Bach Cantata BWV 43

Lunch on the street

1:00 – Common Cathedral – Brewer Fountain in Boston Common, an outreach mass specifically for the large homeless population, many people attend.

2:30 – A conversation with the Reverend Pamela Werntz of Emmanuel Church

7:00 – Dinner at Trinity Church

8:00 – Compline Service Trinity Church – Copley Plaza

Return to Friendly Crossways – journal, sing, sleep

Common Cathedral grabbed my attention and made an impact on me. I really liked that a bunch of street people joined. The things they said touched me, like talking about their background and honoring their mothers because of Mothers’ Day. This service was one of my favorites because I could see that so many people of different kinds and backgrounds could come together and become a community.


Today was amazing because I could see how everything was the same. It felt like all of the services were one giant full day service that was repeating. It was amazing, also, to see how everyone had a unique way of practicing the same thing.


Trinity Church had a very different feel from anywhere else we have been, The candles and incense really made it feel like a time of silence and thought. We did not participate in the compline service much, but it was actually better for me. I felt like it was more of a meditation and a time to look inside rather than be putting so much energy into prayers.


The smell of incense

smoke rises into the air like a cloud

the room,

almost all candle lit,

Beautiful stained glass


I am almost able to feel peoples prayers.


sitting across from and next to me.

Carefully molded cross

hanging from the ceiling.

The choir,

singing songs in unison,

getting closer and closer to God.


Religion, to me, is a way to understand the profound. It is a way to manifest this bigger force in life that we can not understand. We can make sense of the things we can’t grasp. It is present within all of us, we just use different methods to make it tangible.


What a pleasure to hear the powerful words of the homeless. So much wisdom and experience. There was a great amount of energy when we formed a circle and sang, Young and old, healthy and sick, wealthy and poor, but at that moment we were one.


The compline service was very different from everything else that we have done so far. I really enjoyed it. The fact that is was so silent was really relaxing, and I appreciated that they didn’t have us constantly standing up and sitting down.


Today is the kind of day where I feel the most grateful for the gift we have of taking this journey of discovery of something much greater than self.


Compline at Trinity Church

River of Spirit Odyssey 2016 – Day 3

Saturday, May 7 

Breakfast at Friendly Crossways – take the vans to:

10:00 – Morning Shabbat at Temple Beth Zion in Brookline

12:00 – Lunch (school purchase) and Conversation with Reb Moshe

2:00 –Thousand Buddha Temple – Quincy, Massachusetts

4:15 – Holy Trinity Orthodox CathedralMeet with Father Robert M. Arida and attend Vigil for the Resurrection.

6:30 – Dinner City Place Food Court

8:00 – Blue Man Group

Return to Friendly Crossways

Although we wrote and contemplated this extraordinarily full day, by the time we returned to Friendly Crossways there was truly only one thing anyone was capable of, sleep…

Chanting with Master Bhikku Kaizhao



Music from the service at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral

River of Spirit 2016 – Day 2

Friday, May 6

Breakfast at Friendly Crossways

10:00 – Head into Boston

Alewife to Harvard Square

12:10 – Mass at Church of Saint Paul.  Conversation with Father Mark Murphy and members of St. Paul’s Choir School

1:45 Lunch in Harvard Square

5:00 – Conversation with Rabbi Sonia Saltzman of the Temple Ohabei Shalom

5:45 – Dinner in Coolidge Corner

7:00 – Shabbat B’yachad service Temple Ohabei Shalom

Green Line “C” Kent Street Stop to Park Street to Alewife

Return to Friendly Crossways – journal, sing, sleep

Today we went to the Church of Saint Paul. It was so different from anything I’d ever done before. The boy’s choir sounded like angels, especially since they were singing above us. Something in me just melted when I first walked in and saw the gorgeous architecture.  -Marley

Today we went to Saint Paul’s Parish. It was the most beautiful church I have ever been to. The stained glass and stone were amazing, especially the carvings. Their boy’s choir was absolutely stunning. It sounded like angels. -Emeline

          Temple Ohabei Shalom

Maybe it’s just me but…

Germany, Russia, China, to Chile.

She has such a great story

of her triumphant glory

being a rebbe in a day and age.

Up on the stage

With her family

One I see as my own

My people, my word, my world

Comfort, Understanding, Tradition

Song, dance, random noise

Laughter and jokes

It is all me.

All my people.

My home.

Family. Joy.

A bat mitzvah waiting in the wings

anticipation and happiness

I am in my element.


Sitting on the steps of Temple Ohabei Shalom, thinking about what we saw and what we’re going to see, I feel a heightened sense of community in our motley crew of tweens. I think we all feel it!


The temple was really fun for me. I loved the singing, of course. The people made me feel welcome. I just LOVED the community!


Boy’s Choir of St. Pauls from midday mass





River of Spirit Odyssey 2016 – Day 1

Thursday, May 5

9:00 – Leave Hilltop

11:00 – Wat Boston Buddha Vararam (Thai Buddhist Temple)  Bedford, MA. , lesson, chant, and meditation with monk from Theravada tradition.

2:30 – Arrive at Friendly Crossways Hostel 247 Littleton County Road Harvard  Drop off luggage and get tour.

3:30 – Head into Boston

Alewife to Park Street

5:00 – Dinner – Corner Mall Food Court (Downtown Crossing)

6:00 – The Crossing – An alternative approach to liturgy.  Cathedral Church of St. Paul. Conversation with members after the service.

Park Street to Alewife

Return to Friendly Crossways – journal, sing, sleep

We have arrived – We are safe



I don’t like singing, even in a group, but I enjoyed it [at The Crossing]. The people were really nice and inviting, and I really like that they weren’t telling me to believe in this, believe in that. The vibe was just to do this because it’s fun.



I felt fully engaged and present within our time [at The Crossing]. Passing around communion was really special, and the idea of taking in a piece of the divine into yourself and then passing that on to your neighbor is great.


It made me think about how many ways we actually do a type of walking meditation. Today we spent a solid fifteen minutes in silent walking meditation with Aew at the Buddhist Temple. We also did the labyrinth at The Crossing while walking with music. And we even do a sort of walking meditation while we do our night walks in Upland. It made me think deeper about the endless ways people choose to escape their world and fall into meditation.


Hello, Sister,


Join us in our joy and our worship.

Hello, Sister,

Celebrate with us

Our thankfulness together.

Hello, Sister,

Come feel our

Sadness and our happiness

With us.


When that monk blessed us, I just couldn’t stop grinning. Like he was showering all of us with liquid happiness.


We walk the labyrinth as part of Open Space at The Crossing – a time to find your own way to connect with spirit.