Saturday, September 13, 2003

El Na Refa Na La (God please heal her)
Chanting is a voice where the wild iris blooms in the forest.

Preparing for the Days of Awe, tonight I listened to Sufi and Jewish chanting at the Berkeley-Richmond Jewish Community Center. Performing were: Taneen Sufi Music Ensemble, Musa Dieng Kala; a Senegalese Sufi Singer, and Ya Elah; a Jewish Spiritual Music Ensemble. This is what happened.

One small candle lit with hope and love was passed around the room, lighting up everything without the benefit of electricity. Heat began to radiate from the auditorium. Everyone in Berkeley's gourmet ghetto, just a block away on Shattuck Avenue, for a moment looked up from their dinners and said, "Say, what's happening at the Community Center?" A few even walked over after they'd had dessert and coffee. They were the curious ones.

The chanting kept getting louder and more focused, not just inside the performers but for the audience as well, cranking up the light in the room with each repetition of a chant, until suddenly the smell of soup cooking in the kitchen across the hall for intermission, threw some people off.

But that was a good thing, too, because just then one woman sitting in the last row of the audience holding a large shopping bag, her head wrapped in purple scarves, got up from her chair and shouted, "Let's have a chant-in!"

And then she described how each time zone could start chanting Kol HaN'shama / La Ilaha Il'Allah ( All souls sing praises to God! / There is nothing except the Divine, or whatever else they fancied, but she advised to keep it simple), until the lights in the next zone clicked in and so forth until the entire world had repeated the same thing millions of times, and everyone had heard everyone else's voice traveling over the oceans.

She said then the world and its people would see what happened.

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