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Posts Tagged ‘Baltimore’

Have you ever felt invisible?

  • You know the moment when you have a FABULOUS idea and no one will listen.
  • Or perhaps, when you were waiting for a call from someone who simply chooses to disappear without warning.

For me, I think I was invisible for nearly my entire childhood until I went to Israel for high school when I was 16 years old. And even then, I wonder if I was mostly invisible until I was in my forties. I may never really know.

As a child, I am not sure that I understood how to engage in normal ways. I had no idea how to interact as others did. My guess is that I learned to fake it because I was an actress. In truth though, I was invisible. No one really knew me or much less saw me. If they did, they would have had to look inside themselves in order to understand why they stood by and did little or in most cases nothing for a thoroughly battered young girl.

I grew up in what many refer to as idyllic neighborhood outside Baltimore. Yet I will never understand how the neighbors growing up on Pikeswood Drive, my extended family that lived within 3 miles, and my school community could have closed their eyes to the child that stood in front of them, next to them, or within their worlds. Perhaps I was a fabulous actress, I doubt it. More than likely, the adults simply did what felt easiest for them. They closed their eyes, their ears, and their hearts; more likely than not they choose to stay disengaged.

With that disengagement, I had to learn how to navigate a world that made no sense. As a young child, I never wondered why folks didn’t show up. I do now, but back then, it was simply my norm. And that norm was so lonely to navigate.

I have a distinct memory of believing that all my screams were silent when I was a little girl. They weren’t. I have one distinct memory of seeing my mother passed out from one of her many drunks and me screaming at the top of my lungs.  There were no words just what I would describe now as a guttural cry. At a ripe young age, I learned that no one could hear my cries and no one really cared. As I got older, I remember creating a silent scream, I would feel my mouth open, my heart race, and my tears roll down my face, but no sound came. My life experience had taught me to hold my pain inside.

To make matters complicated, I was seriously hearing impaired as a young child. If my memory is correct, I didn’t really hear until I was about 5 years old. I am not sure how I communicated or even if anyone understood me before that time. While I remember other sensations, I don’t remember real communication.

And even when I did start to hear, I knew without a doubt that I spoke funny, everyone struggled to understand me, and besides I could barely hear what people were saying anyways. Somehow along the way I was blessed to learn how to read lips. And over time, I learned how to “act” normal. I even learned how convince my schools that I understood what was going on in the classroom, but that was another one of my lies; I was simply acting.

Reading lips opened up the door to real communication. I am not sure when I figured out that I needed to see people’s lips in order to hear them, but wow did my life get a little easier. While I have never read lips fluently, what I do does help me connect with people.

Lock EyesAs I got older, I learned that I could really connect with people by looking at their lips, reading their expressions, and really locking deeply into their eyes.

Eyes speak volumes and when you look deeply into the eyes that you are facing, you remind yourself and the person in front of you how present you are. When you are locking deeply into the eyes of whoever you are facing you are actually saying “Hineini/I am here”! Our conversation is the most important conversation in the world.

While I don’t always lock eyes, it truly is one of the most holy ways to fully engage with another human being. After a childhood of believing I was invisible, being seen and heard and doing the same for others feels INCREDIBLE.

SARK, my spirit mentor and teacher ends many of her letters with:

You are seen, You are known, You are loved.

After years of being invisible, I believe that the only way that I can see people, know people, and love people is by listening to both their spoken and unspoken words.

To this day, I still have brief moments when I feel invisible, the only difference is that all I have to do is reach out to my beautiful tribe of beloveds that are there for me.

Make sure you take time to lock deeply into other’s eyes. I promise you that it will by one of the holiest connections you will experience.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Standing on Holy Ground

Hiking Boots

3:1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the farthest end of the wilderness, and came to the mountain of God, unto Horeb.

3:2 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

3:3 And Moses said: ‘I will turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.’

3:4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said: ‘Moses, Moses.’ And he said: ‘Here am I.’

3:5 And He said: ‘Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.’ (Exodus 3:1-5

Above is one of my favorite verses/teachings in the Torah! Since we read the entire Torah each and every year, I am given a chance to reflect on this verse once a year.

While this portion isn’t the cycle for this week, it is coming to mind because I am realizing that Baltimore has some of the holiest ground I know. As someone who grew up there and who loves the community, the people, and the landscape, I am struggling with what is happening. In fact, today I can’t get Charm City out of my mind.

When we stand on holy ground, we need to take our shoes off or maybe just become at one with the earth. We need to step forward and say that I am here to serve, to make a difference, to do whatever I can . . .

” הִנְנִי Hineni ”
Here I am

This morning, I woke up wasted after a lovely, but long weekend followed by a nine hour drive yesterday. While I couldn’t make it to Baltimore today, I know that I will head “home” during the weekend. I need to go there, I need to walk in the city of my youth. I need to see for myself what happened. And I need to stand with peaceful protesters that believe that Freddie Gray’s life mattered. And if possible, I need to do my part to clean the streets of my “home”

Violence doesn’t negate the holiness of any place. Wherever there are human beings working towards making the world a better place, there is holy ground. I am so inspired by some of the stories I am hearing.

  1. Toya Graham, the woman who’s video went viral, figured out that one of those desecrating property and throwing rocks at police was her son. Her reaction was priceless! With seemingly little awareness, this mother literally beat her son silly in front of video cameras. She didn’t want her son to be another Freddie Gray. While I struggle with violence, I couldn’t believe how full my heart felt when I realized she was letting her son know that what he was doing was wrong.
  2. One father woke his kids up at the regular time and told them they they were going to help clean up their city. While Baltimore City Schools were closed for the day, there was work to be done!
  3. Hundreds of people were out on the streets today cleaning up and showing their support.
  4. The peacemakers — clergy, Gray’s family and brave residents — placed themselves in the rioters’ way.
  5. Robert Valentine, a Vietnam veteran stood between police in riot gear and teens saying, “These Kids Need To Get Their Butts Home And Study; I’m Not Black, I’m An American.”

and so much more. . . .

Living on holy ground means we need to be present, we need to be willing to push the envelope by helping people in the best ways possible. We need use our voices, our hands, our strength, and our money. As long as we have the ability to make a difference.

Living on holy ground means that we need to think positively, act with loving-kindness, and walk gently in the world.

Living on holy ground means that we need to hear the different narratives and actively learn from them.

Living on holy ground means that we need to be the change we want to see in the world.

And sometimes, living on holy ground means that we need to disconnect from people that espouse values and beliefs that we deem toxic. (I am in the midst of exploring this particular idea and will expand upon this in the coming days.)

” הִנְנִי Hineni ”
Here I am

There is so much work to do and I am here to do it.

For My Journey Towards Wholeness, I wish that I could take off my shoes, like Moses, and become one with the earth, but this is not that time. Right now, I have work to do and it may be better to keep my shoes on and maybe get some work gloves for my hands. 🙂

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – I often find that I am superstitious about the numbers that I see. What made me smile a moment ago was seeing that once I signed my name, I had written 911 words. . . . .  wow.

Guess I need to get to Baltimore. . Anyone care to join me?

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

(Apology: Day 15 of my Omer Reflections did not happen because I took 30+ hours to play with old friends.)

Photo Courtesy of Randall Miller: Western Minnesota

Photo Courtesy of Randall Miller:
Western Minnesota

Life is a journey. There is no question that a certain amount of trust or perhaps faith is needed in order to navigate life in the best possible way.

Today as I was driving home from a brief visit to Baltimore, I was struck by how the below poem represented my life. I have been fortunate to surround myself with people that love me for me, that have always welcomed my friendship or sisterhood, and have met me wherever I am at any given point in time.

Whether I disappear for years or even decades, there is always space for me to re-emerge. My closest friends have been with me through serious illnesses, death, deep sadness, and loss; they have also been with me through celebration of life, intense joy, birth and rebirth.

With that in mind, I am sharing one of my most treasured poems.

blessing the boats

(at St. Mary’s)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back      may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

by Lucille Clifton

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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