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Archive for December, 2015

“The words are purposes.
The words are maps.”
~ Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck

Congested

In so many ways the world is so very dark and yet perhaps we need to look through different eyes. It is time to open our eyes a little wider and listen more deeply.

Yes – Bureaucratic hatred is rampant under the guise of conservative realism. Yes – Human rights are being thwarted by those that lack the ability to consider life outside their own castles. Yes – Climate Change is a farce (NOT!) and the nearly 97 percent climate scientists are wrong.

The prevailing opinions of many of today’s conservatives are hard to stomach. Some believe it is time to cleanse the United States by rounding up that say Allahu Akbar or connect to the core religious tenets of Islam. And if you a black person, you better consider keeping your hands up and make no sudden moves when you encounter many of the police officers who are protecting our cities. (I know not all officers act this way.) And it didn’t seem fair that I had to prepare my Native American son to look people in the eyes and speak clearly or else he may be seen as an immigrant and treated poorly.  (Note: Of course I want my son to speak clearly, but I wish it wasn’t fear or anticipation that made me drive him nuts with my corrections.)

While I could get stuck in this deplorable place, I am choosing to look at the world through a different lens.

Instead of focusing on the darkness, I am celebrating those that inspire me to reach outside myself and take care of the world – all of the world. I am doing exactly as Mr. Rogers said by “looking for the helpers”. There are so many people working towards impacting the world for good and honoring human rights at every turn.

Blessings are flowing in every crevice of our society.  There are so many people doing what they can for tikkun olam, repairing the world.  There are those that are:

  • working with the homeless population.
  • educating people to see refugees as people that have the right to thrive without daily doses of terror.
  • creating opportunities to help every facet of the human race.
  • engaging in a Two State solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • rejuvenate our environment to lesson the impact of climate change.
  • healing the sick and doing their best to wipe out AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.
  • standing up with and for Black Lives Matter.
  • speaking out for the immigrants and doing all they can to support their presence in the United States.
  • trying to stop the NRA from controlling as they do and hopefully one day eliminating the terror that they seem to instigate with their policies.
  • and so much more. . . .

In this moment, I am trying to decide whether to do as much as I can in many different areas that need change or do I simply do the my part in only one aspect of tikkun olam (repairing the world}. Passion literally courses through my veins. Caring about human beings, means that I find shutting down so very challenging to do. While I know that I am not alone, I feel relieved that many are doing their part to improve the world. My job is to figure out where my power lies.  For this moment, I love knowing that I do find ways to make a difference. Even though, I often navigate how to best use my voice, I love knowing that I do not walk in silence. I use my voice, my actions, and my teachings to make a difference for good.

I do my best to do what I can. How about you?????  There is a huge world out there that needs our voices, our actions.

May I never forget that my voice and my actions have power.
May I always use my voice and my actions for good.

May we all remember that we are part of ONE RACE – HUMAN!!!

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Honor Yourself

Courtesy of Terri St. Cloud of BoneSighArt.com 

One of the most powerful transformations that I have made since the fall Jewish holidays has been learning Torah twice a week with two groups of passionate woman (by coincidence). Both have become the highlight of my professional and healing journey. I am processing life with others and the Torah is fully becoming my guide to living more fully. Simply put, I have found a new way to honor myself differently than I ever have before now.

Last week in my Thursday afternoon Torah Study, we spoke about Jacob’s devastation over the loss of Joseph, the son who who he loved “best of all”.  While I don’t understand what it means to love one son over another son or to have one of my children die, I do understand that losing a child is perhaps the worst kind of loss that any of us can imagine.  So after Joseph learns that his son was devoured by a beast, his reaction is totally understandable:

Jacob rent his clothes, put sackcloth on his loins, and observed mourning for his son many days. All of his sons and daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, saying, “No, I will go down mourning to my son in Sheol.”  (Genesis 37: 34-35)
The conversation that followed our reading of the above verse was heartbreaking and enlightening.  One person understood such a loss and allowed us a window into her experience and I finally understood more clearly why in traditional shiva houses, houses of mourning, we do not supposed to reach out to the mourners until they initiate a conversation.

Going to Sheol after learning of a death of someone you adore makes sense – always. Even if we are surrounded by loved ones, we are also feeling desolate and alone. And with that discussion came an enlightening discussion about mourning practices within the traditional Jewish world. Torah came alive.

Today’s Torah study was a fountain of flowing energy that ignited my soul – it always does. While we explored the difference between being a sage and showing discernment, we grew to understand what it means to have knowledge and the ability to impactfully work with others.  We also spoke about our health journeys and how we need to take care of ourselves. We also spoke about the mourner’s kaddish and the problem with how many progressive congregations do it today. How can we support mourners when we all rise together? We spoke about the options.  Finally, we wrapped up with how we say perhaps the holiest prayer in our tradition. We spoke about how we say and teach the Shema, our communities proclamation that we have One God. (Note: In Progressive Judaism there are many ways to see God and Godliness. What I LOVE about our tradition is that even if some of us see this a little differently, the Shema is a central prayer for all of us.)
Woven through every discussion was a thread of knowledge that came from the way Joseph interpreted dreams and how he, his father and his brother lived their lives. There is so much to learn from the tangents that are all part of Torah.
Each and every time I learn Torah my heart feels broken open differently than it was before we started.  My Monday morning Torah Study has strengthened my connection with five people. I can not imagine this connection ever fading. For one hour women from all corners of the United States talk Torah, education, and life.  Individually we are broken vessels that somehow emerge more whole when we grow/learn together.  Another way that my friend and study partner Iris Koller articulated our experience was that, “We each bring our fragments of lights that shine through”; our time together creates one of the most beautiful rainbows that I have ever seen.
On a side note, it has only been in the last 15 or so years that I have developed close connections with women. Before that time, I was rarely close with more than a couple of women at a time, but now I am so much more balanced because of the many soul sisters that have touched my life. Wow – I feel blessed.  I find myself thinking and opening up different that I ever have and it makes me want to cry.  I love that Torah is coming alive as it is.

There is so much holiness that comes alive when the two groups of women I study with bring our many moving parts together            in order to study together. The learning of life’s lessons through our study of Torah is making me more whole.

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