Posts Tagged ‘discernment’

Take care of you and your spirit,
Take care of your loved ones and your beloved work,
Laugh out loud and smile often,
And always reach for what you really want – if not now, when. . .

Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

This morning, I awoke to a trembling sensation in my gut, an overwhelming realization that I am inadequate as a human being. I do not believe I am alone in this realization.  This time of year, we are called to reflect on where we are and where we need to go.

I know that I am not really inadequate, but I also know that I have yet to do enough, to be enough, or to honor myself enough. I live on a fence, I have one foot reaching for the progressive world as one arm has never let go of the traditional world.  And my other limbs dangle near unknown terrain at any given moment.  How I interpret life’s journey is neither one way or another.

In my awareness, I find myself seeking the wisdom, the discernment, and the passion to be honest with where I am.  Ridiculously, I note that self-compassion never seems to be a part of my journey.

On Rosh HaShana, our liturgy says, “Who will live and who will die”.  This is the phrase that startled me awake this morning. In the most significant prayer of our Rosh HaShana liturgy, we recite Unetaneh TokefLet Us Cede Power.  My modern soul has no way of processing it and my progressive soul realizes that there is always room for growth. This prayer literally takes my breath away and empowers me to breathe deeply at the same time.

With less than a week before the new year, I pray that I am worthy of life and that I always live life to the fullest.

May I remember to live my passion and have compassion.
May I be the change I want to see in the world
and accept the things I can not change.
May I climb mountains and take time to coast.
May I be the best me that I can be.

With love, light, and blessings,


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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 . . . .]

Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation -  Sanctuary Bethesda, Maryland

Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation –
Bethesda, Maryland

Rambling Musings of Going Home-to Adat Shalom

Yesterday I went home.

I didn’t go to the place I was raised; I wouldn’t want to go there.  Instead I went to the spiritual community that raised me as an educator, pushed me as a human being, and nurtured my soul when I needed it most. I went to Adat Shalom Reconstuctionist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland.

From the moment I drove in the parking lot, I knew I was returning home. With a sense of overwhelming joy, I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was to be visiting my old stomping grounds. As soon as I got out of the car, I met with one of the most beautiful souls that welcomed me into her home on numerous occasions without question whenever I wanted to gather my Rosh Hodesh Girls. (This was a group of tweens and later teens that celebrated the new month together.)

While all loving connections are complicated, Adat Shalom was the community that empowered me to grow as the person and the human being that I am today. For six years I worked at Adat Shalom. Each and every day I was stretched, watered, and even pruned. There were moments when the growing pains were intense and other moments that my soul couldn’t stop singing.  And looking back, I can clearly see how deeply this Makom Kadosh, holy place touched my life and does to this very day.

The clergy and the community taught me how to be the most authentic me I could be. Each and every day that I came to work, I felt loved and respected. On the bad days, I knew I had some growing to do; on the good days, I knew I was far from becoming the best educator I could be. Through working with such thoughtful leaders, lay people, and families, I learned the power of discernment.

Looking back, I see that I worked with soul workers. The clergy, the teachers, Sheila Feldman (our executive director), and the staff. The lay leaders and the members were passionate and wise. While I sometimes struggled, I was also deeply in love. Leaving Adat Shalom was painful, but it was the right thing to do at that time in my life. And I will forever feel a sense of loss that I am no longer there.

The community was passionate about the world they live and those that live in it. It was at Adat Shalom that I started to understand individual rights and our collective responsibility. It was at Adat Shalom that I began to seriously (and with decisive information) to contemplate our impact on the environment and how we could make a difference for good. And it was at Adat Shalom that I found my voice. I became more thoughtful and conscious of my responsibility as a Jew, a woman, and a human being. I had a lot of work to do and I welcome the fact that I will always be doing the work.

When my child’s life hung by a thread, it was the loving energy of such a caring community that gave us the strength to navigate and ultimately survive the years of trauma.  Both strangers and friends brought us food, offered their prayers, and even visited us during the nightmares that nearly took my son’s life.

As soon as I walked into the sanctuary, I knew exactly where I would sit. Seeing my beloved friend sitting by himself, I was thrilled to totally surprise the person who I had lost track of. Years before he and his loving wife were traveling on the west coast when we were preparing to what would become a 22 hour brain surgery in Los Angeles. Even today, Aryeh, my son, who remembers little of that time in our lives, remembers our friends going out of the way to comfort him. BTW, it worked.

I love that I had Aryeh with me yesterday. He has ALWAYS loved our Adat family as much as I did. We have both missed our Adat Shalom community.

What no one realized yesterday is that my son wore a tallit that I made for him. The words on the atarah, the collar, said I am still alive. In Hebrew, the words remind us that in spite of what many believed would be his death sentence, my son is still alive. At one point during services, I rested my head against his arm and he quietly said, “It feels so good to be here wrapped in this tallit and at Adat Shalom.” My son is very much alive and I think it is the Adat Shalom community and his relenting spirit that gave him (and our entire family) the strength to soar.

Towards the last moments of the service, Aryeh decided to rise for his first time to say Mourners ‘Kaddish, for his father’s father, his grandfather who had died two weeks earlier. No one at Adat Shalom knew that he was mourning a significant loss in his life, but it was at home that my son was given the space to cry and to feel the full impact of his loss. It didn’t matter that no one knew, it was at Adat Shalom that my son felt safe to stand and mourn.

There are many that come to Adat Shalom with their own Jewish journeys. I love that I learned so much about what it means to honor each individual’s spirit during my time there. I wish I could thank EVERYONE that crossed my path so that I could personally thank them.

Being called to the bima, stage, by Cantor Rachel, my childhood friend and colleague, literally took my breath away. As I stood on a bima that I had been on many times before, I saw the faces of so many beautiful souls. While I didn’t get a chance to connect with each and every person individually, I felt like the luckiest person in the world at that moment. And then carrying the Torah around the sanctuary made my heart sing. It was during my time at Adat Shalom that my entire relationship with the Living Torah evolved and was given wings that had been clipped earlier in my life. It was with this community, that my relationship with the world grew to beautiful heights. It was this community that I learned that everything is Torah.

Yesterday, I went home. I can’t wait to do so again in a couple of weeks before I move to Houston to what I believe will be a beautiful taste of what I had at Adat Shalom. Wow, I am so blessed.

May each and every one of find Makom Kadosh, this holy place within ourselves and within the communities that we call home.

With love, light, and blessings,

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