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Archive for December, 2009

Letting Go

When I was a young girl or perhaps a teenager, my mother caused me great pain by always threatening to be part of my life, even after her death.  Marilyn knew that I believed in reincarnation and that I felt connected by both the world I lived and the worlds I had once been a part of; she also knew that I had keen psychic powers and that she was probably the only person who could play with them.

In Marilyn’s hands I suffered; she physically and mentally destroyed my childhood and spiritually left me the pieces to pick up as I grew and continue to grow though adulthood.  Today, I surround myself with light; I feel joy in the small things and total excitement in most things that would make others smile for only a moment.  Part of me believes that even as Marilyn gave me such enormous pain, she also empowered me to grow.  As a strong soul, I had the ability to make it through the darkness and to find the light!

Maybe my mother loved me; but she was too sick to parent.  The truth is that I forgive her and more importantly, I am letting go.  It really doesn’t matter any longer. Today, I have to continue to nurture the inner child and seek the light that will help me to balance the pain that once permeated my entire being.

My beloved teacher, Rabbi Shefa Gold, wrote a chant she calls Shining: “Arise and shine for your light has come, and the Glory of God is shining upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1)  I have been chanting these words a lot over the past months.  The words have embraced me like a cocoon, as I have needed to feel myself surrounded by God’s healing light.

As I chant/drum, I often focus on a beautiful picture of a “tzadi” (Hebrew letter) that my close friend Jennifer Judelsohn created for her book, Songs of Creation: meditations on the sacred Hebrew alphabet.  For me the picture represents the power of fully giving in different ways,  tzedakah, tikkun olam and within relationships with others, as I also find balance for myself.  It is never about being recognized for what I do, it is always about giving completely while taking care of my own soul too.

Today, through the help of my dear friend, I was able to feel my mother’s hold let go of me.  Wherever she is, I believe that she has now released me and the words/realities of my childhood will never keep me bound tightly again.  As I chanted/drummed this morning and looked to my beautiful picture, I felt complete peace for the first time in a long time.

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Soul Friends

Sometimes

My heart races as I hope to connect with one of my beloved soul friends;
Each and every breath becomes a little labored and joy envelopes me.
Today there are many special people in my life; I have good friends, some of them soul friends.

Soul friends are those that fill my life mostly with the gifts that pure love includes, but sometimes with the pain that connections bring.

In reality, when I miss my soul friends; I feel pain that they are such a powerful part of my life, but many of them are just beyond my grasp due to time, space, and sometimes conflicts.

Soul friend (n) – a person who fuels my insides with passion that runs deep to the core of my being.

Soul connection-transcends time and space; most likely an old soul connection.

A true soul friend is a deep part of your life even when words are unspoken; and you are a beautiful part of their life.  When you are together with that friend there is shalem, completeness.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about friends in general, but after much thought I want to share my thoughts on soul friends.

Soul friends are those people that come into your life and immediately know you deeply and love you for who you are.  They look into your eyes and know your soul’s truth without explanation. Sometimes I laugh at the fact that my soul friends know me completely for who I am today, but they don’t necessarily know who I was back when.

Without fail, I am always surprised when I realize that I don’t know about a soul friend and they don’t know about me.

I love that so many have touched my life as deeply as they do. I am who I am today because of the connections I feel with others.  Until about 10 years ago, I didn’t really know what it meant to have beloved friends, soul friends.  I didn’t know that people could love me as completely as they do and accept me for me.

Today I am blessed; I am alive; I am grateful.  And with all of that, I have to say that today I am in love with life.

For that I thank my soul friends who showed me that love is beautiful and connections with people are a gift.



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Lifecycle Reflections

For so many months I’ve been asking myself, “What derekh (path/direction) do I want to follow?  The answer is still unclear, but experiences are continuing to imbue me with insight on a regular bases.

Today was no exception.

This morning, I went to a workshop at my local Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning.  While there, I seemed to be on a different plain than my colleagues.  Thankfully they are kind individuals that didn’t put me out to pasture; I am absolutely lucky to work with other educators who really honor each other wherever they stand.

Our workshop started with a d’var torah (discussion on Torah) in which we discussed this week’s parsha (Torah portion), Mikkets.  In the parsha, Yaakov turns to his sons and says, “Why do you keep looking at one another?” (This is in reference to the reality that Yaakov and his sons have no food in Canaan, but there is plenty of food in the neighboring Egypt. Our forefather Yaakov appears to be asking his sons why they are just standing there.)  The question is one I often ponder when there is work to do and no one steps forward for whatever reason they have.

So when a call came in a few hours later from a local Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society) asking if I would help with a tahara (ritual washing of a body before the funeral), I had to ask myself if I would just stand around and do nothing or step up to the plate.  I had a few excuses why I couldn’t do the tahara.

  • My family was looking forward to spending the 7th night of Chanukah together.  This Chanukah had not been as family oriented as it usually is.
  • My hand was hurting terribly and I needed to refrain from using it for the evening.
  • Did I say it was really cold outside and I wanted to stay curled up inside for the night?

But the call made me jump into action and the excuses weren’t acceptable.  Some beautiful soul called me because she needed me to help her congregation out.  I was her twentieth call.  Once I realized that I was the twentieth call, I knew what I had to do; none of my challenges for the evening were voiced.

After nearly three years of taking care of Aryeh, my now 16-year-old son who was (and is no longer) seriously ill, I realized it was time for me to leave the cocoon.  Now that my son is stronger, it is my job to respond when I am being called into action.

Tonight’s tahara was for a real tzadekes, righteous woman; she must have been a gem of a person.  As I walked into the funeral home, I met two women that loved this woman tremendously.  With time to spare before the tahara was to begin, both women shared memories of their dear friend.  It isn’t often that family or friends can share a story with you about their loved one moments before a tahara is performed.  After hearing a few stories, I felt so honored to be doing this particular tahara. The women seemed to be gems themselves; they were warm and lovely people who seemed to view the departed as a mentor.

One of the two women actually performed the tahara with me.  She was gentle and loving with her friend’s body.  She was strong in spite of her sadness.  I hope and pray that I am always so kind and loving when I perform a tahara; I also hope that next time I look for ways to be more available when someone needs me.

As a progressive Jew, the calls don’t come in from my own communities; they come in from a more traditional community nearby.  The good news is that I have been trained to do taharas and I love being able to give in that way.  I keep wondering if there is more that I can do to help those dealing with the death and dying process.  Maybe.  This will be one of the things that I will continue to ponder for the time being.

After the tahara, I found myself chanting Nachamu Nachamu Ami (Comfort, Comfort my people) again and again.  I wanted to reach out and comfort those in mourning; I wanted to create a sacred space for them to move through their grief.  I felt, as I always do, that I was exactly where I needed to be when I was available to do the tahara and I was exactly where I needed to be when I was chanting with the family/friends of the departed in my heart and on my mind.

With light and blessings,

Chava

PS – My soul friend/sister posted a beautiful blog on her own tahara reflections.  Please take a moment to read it!  http://theitinerantrabbit.blogspot.com/

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