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Posts Tagged ‘God’

December 2016 - looking out into waterSometimes I am blessed to open a book of poetry to the perfect poem, a magazine to an article that I needed to hear, or just maybe, the person I most need to see shows up in an unexpected moment. Today seemed to be that day for me, in fact in a weird way all three  of these scenarios seemed to be covered when I opened up the book Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown.

Isn’t it funny how life works? I found a passage spoken by poet Maya Angelou and I read a chapter of a what I believe will be a great book written by someone I have no doubt could be my friend if we crossed paths. A few minutes before opening the book, I felt myself go into a dark place as I realized that I have never belonged anywhere – not really.  On a good day, I find peace with myself and enjoy what surrounds me. On a tougher day, I feel deep loneliness that feels like it shreds my heart. On most days, I see-saw back and forth between feeling like I belong and knowing I don’t.  While the journey can feel daunting, I often ride these waves with ease, finding balance along the way.

Post Hurricane Harvey has been challenging. Harvey gave me a lot of time to worry about what I may lose and accept that most of it didn’t matter or at least didn’t matter much. That lead me to reflect about what actually matters to me and who matters. Harvey also brought me face to face with some painful realities and impending losses. I guess you can say that this storm shattered my heart and right now I am taking the time to cry, to heal, and to embrace new opportunities in how I walk in the world. None of the specifics matter in this moment, but this journey has reinforced that I really fit no where and yet I can fit everywhere.

What’s surreal to me is that I do have beautiful villages of people that surround me. For the most part they are somewhat connected while often not connected at all.  Each village gives me places to go when I am looking to surround myself with beloved friends or when I need shelter from a brewing storm, but I am so aware that at any point I can leave without my footprint being missed for too long. This could come from the fact that I am a wandering Jew who has lived in many different places over the years – rarely settling in one place long enough to plant serious roots.

In Brene Brown’s newest book, she quotes Dr. Maya Angelou from an interview she gave Bill Moyers that aired on public television in 1973, she said:

You are only free when you realize you belong no place–
you belong every place–no place at all.
The price is high. The reward is great.

Why is this coming up today of all days?

In part this is emerging because today is Yom Kippur and I am not feeling well enough to be in services. And besides not feeling well, I am having what has become my tug-of-war with this time of the year. I question EVERYTHING about what this time of year means. So. . .what does someone that doesn’t necessarily believe in God do with this energy? How do I navigate what I believe with my love of Judaism and the Jewish people?

On Yom Kippur, traditional teachings tell us that on this day God will decide who will live and who will die. The problem is that I have never believed in THAT God or quite honestly, I don’t really believe in God at all.  For me, Yom Kippur is a time to go inward and to reflect on how I fit into the world and to question do I do enough to make this world a better place. I do believe in the power of the universe, but my faith allows me not to have all the answers, instead I am ok with the unknown and I don’t have to look for God in my life. Instead, I simply chose to adopt an attitude of love for creation and a desire to have a positive impact on the world I live.

For the most part, I have come to accept that even though I have a strong suspicion that I don’t quite fit in to any Jewish community or anywhere, I am still confident that I can navigate nearly any road and visit with ease. I can struggle with God yet still inspire a love of creation and a devotion to Judaism.

Through my writing, I have learned how and when to be a chameleon and when to let my true self shine.  My writing gives me an outlet to comfortably share my vulnerability instead of hiding my views behind my silence; I no longer want to have secrets that force me to be what I am not. Like so many others, I have done that too much in my life.  I guess that is why I am choosing to share what I truly believe about God: I don’t focus on what God is or isn’t, instead I root myself in Godliness or God-energy.  (More on that in a future blog. . .)

Belonging would be lovely, but for now I think it is better that I remain rooted in myself, perhaps even belonging to myself. This way I can be the woman I am — striving to stretch and grow with each and every step I take.  And at the same time, I have found the few friends I value deeply while embracing others that are simply a beautiful part of my life. I guess you could say that while I sometimes feel dark, I am (mostly) content for what I do have.

Have you ever opened up a book that was perfectly aligned to what your spirit needed at the time? I am so grateful that I was able to do exactly that on the holiest day of the Jewish year. I am fairly certain that Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown will continue to motivate me to write more blogs.

Sending love, light, & blessings,
Chava

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(Note: My world is exactly where it needs to be; my heaviness is not about my own personal journey in this moment, it is about the world around me.)

Those who know me deeply, know that my heart is full. I am blessed to feel intensely, love forever, and connect at a core level. My friends matter, their friends matter, and I care for those in my world and those in my loved one’s world. And if I am really honest, I can’t stop thinking about the larger world too.

For reasons of privacy, I won’t share any ‘real’ specifics. And in truth, the details probably don’t matter. What matters is that chances are that I am probably not alone when I say that each and every one of us are surrounded by people who are struggling.

Philadelphia doorways

This Photo of Philadelphia Tunnels/Doorways is given by courtesy of my beloved friend and fellow writer Wicca Davidson. I love how she captured this view. Wow.

All of us travel through passages that sometimes feel daunting. Life unravels in front of us and there is nothing we can do except open up our hearts and hold those we love and/or care for. Whether for ourselves or others, we can also take time to pray for healing for bodies, minds, and souls. AND we can visualize spirits surrounded by light too.

Years ago, when my father was dying, I realized that I praying for a specific outcome didn’t work. My father was going to take his last breath sometime in the coming days and I would no longer have him as an active part in my life. So, I had to find a way to send healing thoughts to his spirit and to let go of the impossible dream. More than anything I realized that I wanted my father to have inner peace and to know that he was loved.

Only after my dad passed did I slowly begin to understand that there was a power in finding the right right prayer. My prayers were unique to me in the same ways that yours are unique to you. For me, I actively visualize peace surrounding those in need. I understand that while I may want a specific outcome, I don’t always know the bigger picture. My job is to trust in the universe or perhaps God. I choose to let go of any preconceived notions of what life should look like. That doesn’t ALWAYS work, but I have learned to seek that people find healing and wholeness in the ways that best work for them. Lately though, it is easier said than done.

So many are struggle for health and wholeness. Each and every person is traveling their own individual journey. All I can do is send positive thoughts their way. Yesterday, I posted the following on Facebook:

Seeking a prayer that shares my light and blessings for all those I know who are going through some very significant challenges. The more I care, the more I realize that when I pray I always miss someone on my list of those in need of healing. I hate the feeling that I am missing someone each and every time I pray. ‪#‎NoMoreJewishGuilt 

What I know in this moment, is that I have to take a deep breath and just keep sending my healing energy into the world. I can only do the best I can do. And I can trust, that as long as I am sending positive vibes into the world around me. That’s all I can do.

We really can always pray/visualize.  I just have to trust that while I may miss saying someone’s name, as long I know that my intentions are to send positive energy to all in need, I can stop being so hard on myself and trust that energy will go where it needs to go.

May all of my prayers and positive thoughts penetrate the world around me. May those I know and those I don’t know experience wholeness. May each and every person’s spirit soar and personal wholeness reign.

And let us say. . . Amen.

 

 

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Catalina Mountains remind me to keep climbing. :)

Catalina Mountains remind me to keep climbing. 🙂

Regardless of how life is
I find the light and focus on the good.
Light is full of shades from bright to darkness.

When the world is crumbling
Crumbling pieces are like remnants of cake.
Each morsel tasted and the sweetness digested

Breathing in light
Breathing out the darkness
Eventually after enough breaths, finding balance with each inhalation.

Thank God for new days
Bad days really do end
And new days emerge with beauty.

At the moment, I am keeping perspective while navigating the darkness that has been plaguing my life for way too long. Thankfully there are flowers that bloom constantly in the desert, a moon that illuminates even the darkest skies, and sunrises that revitalize the mountains while warming my heart and soul.

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Middah (character trait) focus: Listen to the quiet

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 me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

“”Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.” 
~Maya Angelou’s last tweet from May 23,

When I was a little girl my father used to look into my eyes and put each hand on one of my ears and apply loving pressure.  As he did, he would whisper ‘Listen to the silence.”  I loved those peaceful moments.  When I had my own sons, my father reminded me of those moments and started doing it to each of my boys when they were just hours/days old.  Even today, I remember the warmth and the loving feeling that came over me.  I love how children always smile or relax when you hold their ears; it is so sweet.

Today I love the silence and the feeling that overcomes me when I am able to sit in the silence and appreciate the messages that surround me.  Even today I feel the warmth and loving feeling when I take a moment and listen to the silence.  Perhaps the warm feeling that washes over me is God’s energy or perhaps it is Godliness; either way I will welcome it.

May we each find a way to do that kind of listening, in that kind of quiet.

Listening to the quiet of the sunrise in Tucson. . .

Listening to the quiet of the sunrise in Tucson. . .

 

 

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Tonight we counted Day 45 of the Omer, which is 6 weeks and three days of the counting. Day 45 is referred to as Tiferet sheh b’Malkhut,  Beauty within our kingdom.  A beautiful kingdom is one that is blessed with Shekhinah’s presence.  Only when God or godliness dwells where people are, is it possible for a malkhut or ’kingdom’ to exist.

H.G. Wells said, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  Different people will find different things beautiful.  For me, I tend to look both inside and outside of all people, situations, and environments.  The bottom-line is that intention matters.  Metaphorically and physically speaking, it matters how things appear.

May we each reach to find the beauty that surrounds us.

May we each reach to find the beauty that surrounds us.

When we weave together all the different aspects of a community, we can either find godliness or not depending on how we look at the world.  Generally speaking, I tend to find the beauty in most of what surrounds me, gifts within the challenges and light within the darkness.  With each step I take, I crave beauty and I look for ways to navigate the darkness that often emergences from life’s challenges.

This week alone, I found that my eyes were opened on at least three occasions when I initially saw things one way and then became enlightened.

  1. The first moment came when a man from Cleveland essentially rescued three women.  Initially I thought he was a low class, but then he suggested that a reward that he had been offered be given to the women who really needed it; he was fortunate enough to earn a paycheck.
  2. Yesterday, I went to a look at a yoga studio .  On the outside, it was really a more simple studio than I had ever seen.  Once I went inside today, I fell in love with the space and the energy that encompassed the entire environment.
  3. Tonight, I went walking with my son Aryeh, we saw two nice looking young men walking around, but then we saw them slow down and start really looking at the different houses.  While initially they seemed to be close friends or lovers on a stroll, they eventually looked like young men casing the neighborhood.  The beauty of the last scenario is that I was able to see past my initial vision and then to make a good choice by calling the local police who listened.

In each example, I could have gotten lost in my first impressions, but ultimately I saw things clearer and found a moment of godliness or maybe the shekhinah’s presence in what transpired.

May each of us be blessed to see Shekhinah’s presence or godliness as we walk on our way.

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Dovi and Aryeh enjoying their time together while playing backgammon.

Dovi and Aryeh enjoying their time together while playing backgammon.  May we all feel the shekhinah’s presence at home and when we walk on the way too.

Tonight we counted Day 43 of the Omer, which is 6 weeks and one day of the counting. Day 43 is referred to as Chesed sheh b’Malkhut,  Loving-kindness within our kingdom.  A beautiful kingdom is one that is blessed with Shekhinah’s presence.  Only when God or godliness dwells where people are, is it possible for a malkhut or ‘kingdom’ to exist in a healthy way.

By filling our lives with loving energy and then sharing it with others, we ultimately create an environment that radiates with the Shekhinah’s presence.   This cycle perpetuates itself to all facets of our personal lives and our communities too.

May we experience Shekhinah within us and wherever we travel too.

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Tonight we will count Day 35 of the Omer, which is 5 weeks of the counting. Day 35 is referred to as Malkhut sheh b’Hod, Shekhinah within Expansiveness.  Shekhinah is a way of looking at Malkhut (meaning kingdom).  When God or godliness dwells in one central location, you have a kingdom.

With each and every step, I try to hold myself with integrity and to put godliness in every interaction.  There is an entire world out there that matters and depends on my integrity.  Sometimes I struggle, but still I believe that is my responsibility to follow Gandhi’s saying and “be the change you want to see in the world.”  If I consciously embrace a world of godliness than perhaps my steps will guide me to higher ground when climbing to higher ground is not an option.

Hiking Boots

To live in the bigger world, I have to remember to walk gently, to honor truth even when it hurts, and to constantly strive to be my best self even when I am dealing with the shadow of others.  The world depends on people actively being the best they can be.  As a mother, a teacher, a friend, a writer, and a human being, I have no choice but to always put my best foot forward.

Surrendering to life’s darkness isn’t an option, yet it is often how I feel when I battle the demons that exist around me.  In every realm (personal and more universal) that I travel I see darkness, but it is my job to hold myself in light and to find others that endeavor to do the same.  I am not an island; although there are moments that I feel like one.  Reality is that it takes many loving souls to make the larger world a better place.

Will you join me?  With each breath, I pray for Malkhut sheh b’Hod, Shekhinah within Expansiveness

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