Religious Exploration -on the Theme of Balance – A Song for All Ages
Leah | Feb 27, 2018

From Soul Matters

From You I Receive –  Singing The Living Tradition #402

This simple song, about the balance of giving and receiving, is one of our most sung tunes as Unitarian Universalists. It is so simple, we don’t think of the song as having a composer

Several folks think it is an anonymous song, author unknown, but it is not. It was written by 2 brothers who are Jewish rabbis, Nathan and Joseph Segal and there is a sad story as well as an uplifting story behind it.

First, the heartbreak: the Segal brothers are rabbis – singing rabbis, in fact – who trace their lineage as singing rabbis back 12 generations. They performed a spiritual and often humorous show for decades, until a car accident in Jamaica in 1988 left Joseph critically injured; eight years after the accident, it was news that he would join his brother Nathan at the congregation Nathan served. Since then, it appears Nathan has continued his work as a spiritual leader, healer, and musician – sadly, nothing on his website says anything about Joseph other than providing MP3s of the songs they recorded together. In fact, along with those recordings, there is just one video of them together from a concert they did in Woodstock in the late 1960s.

But it was from watching a clip from that where I learned we aren’t singing the song correctly. Listening to the MP3 reveals the same. Now I suspect the hymnal commission didn’t have benefit of these recordings at the time and learned the song by rote, but it’s interesting that not only do we have a different version, but apparently Nathan himself sang it differently over time, based on a later solo recording.”
from “Notes from the Far Fringe” Rev. Kimberly Debus


Listen to Rabbi Nathan and Rabbi Joseph singing: (about minute 2:00)


And here is the uplifting part of the story. Rabbi Nathan is a joyous man, with a large vision of what he is here to do in his life. Nathan Segal is a 21st century Renaissance man… His interests are as eclectic as his personality, from biblical studies and ancient history to space travel, science and technology.  Here is what he says about himself:
His Statement of Purpose:
To serve my Creator. To entertain, inspire, heal, enliven and enlighten, to be an instrument of prayer and praise, song, celebration, healing, consolation, and transformation.

I want to live in a ‘spiritual neighborhood’. A place where caring and sharing, loving and holiness bless each day. I want to have more ‘fun’ and play more and dance and sing and delight in this most awesome garden of our Creator’s Creation. All that we have is given unto us by Grace. Let us embrace and give thanks. I want to hear more laughter, joy-us song, giggles, prayer and praise. Not just on Sabbath and holy days. But every day. I want to hold the babies, play and cavort with the children, passion with my peers and compassion with my elders. I want to give and receive more healing touch and affection. I want to help tend the gardens that bring forth the food, that nurture our humanity in awareness of Divinity. I want to share more silent spaces with myself and others…Listening..Caring..Loving..Sharing. Away from a medicated society…embracing a meditative extended family. Away from fear based encounter. Towards loving communion. Far away from scarcity mentality…living in infinite abundance and holy love. Yes yes. We are blessed. Blessed. Communion – come union together.

Perhaps the accident to his brother made him realize that life is a gift. For whatever reason, Rabbi Nathan is an open-hearted person, and we are thankful he gave us his song.

From Leah Purcell Director of Religious Education, Credentialed Religious Educator

I wonder what your “Statement of Purpose” might be? I’m not asking you to add more to your list of things to do, but perhaps this could be a task for your personal reflection time, even if that time is a few moments in the shower. And I wouldn’t ask you to add more tasks to your life to create a statement of purpose; but you could consider what you value and what your priorities are and how those things keep you in balance. You might share your Statement of Purpose with your family. They might help you remember to keep things in balance when they see you teetering. Maybe they’ll be inspired to create their own “Statement of Purpose.”

Book Recomendations on the theme of Balance

Book Recommendations

Mirette on the High Wire

by Emily Arnold McCully  (Author)

One day, a mysterious stranger arrives at a boarding house of the widow Gateau—a sad-faced stranger, who keeps to himself. When the widow’s daughter, Mirette, discovers him crossing the courtyard on air, she begs him to teach her how he does it. But Mirette doesn’t know that the stranger was once the Great Bellini—master wire-walker. Or that Bellini has been stopped by a terrible fear. And it is she who must teach him courage once again. Readers walk over the rooftops of nineteenth-century Paris and into an elegant, beautiful world of acrobats, jugglers, mimes, actors, and one gallant, resourceful little girl.

Desmond and the Very Mean Word

by Desmond Tutu (Author),? A.G. Ford (Illustrator)

Based on a true story from Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s childhood in South Africa, Desmond and the Very Mean Word reveals balance between the power of words and the secret of forgiveness.
When Desmond takes his new bicycle out for a ride through his neighborhood, his pride and joy turn to hurt and anger when a group of boys shout a very mean word at him. He first responds by shouting an insult, but soon discovers that fighting back with mean words doesn’t make him feel any better. With the help of kindly Father Trevor, Desmond comes to understand his conflicted feelings and see that all people deserve compassion, whether or not they say they are sorry. Brought to vivid life in A. G. Ford’s energetic illustrations, this heartfelt, relatable story conveys timeless wisdom about how to handle bullying and angry feelings, while seeing the good in everyone.

The Other Side

by Jacqueline Woodson  (Author),? E. B. Lewis (Illustrator)

Clover’s mom says it isn’t safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship, and get around the grown-ups’ rules by sitting on top of the fence together