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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

In 1982, I received the gift of a lifetime. I was given wings to fly and a safe place to call home. For the first time in my young life, I found solace in the land that my people had called their homeland, Israel. And I was able to close my eyes at night without the fear of being woken by loud screaming or crashing sounds.

For one year, I went to an amazing high school, traveled the country, and found what I thought would be my permanent home. While it wasn’t exactly what happened, it was the most trans-formative experience in my life. With every ounce of my being, I believe I am healthy and vibrant because my brother and his wife gave me the gift of a lifetime; they made it possible for me to go to school in Israel.

Israel provided me with a safety net that had never been afforded to me. I had friends and family that loved the wounded teenager and supported me so that I could emerge into a stronger human being. Kfar HaYarok, the High School I went to, provided me with tools to stretch and to grow as a young woman and a future leader. I am the woman I am, in part, because of my time there.

Thirty-five years later, I am coming to grips that as of Monday Israel is no longer open to me…not really.  It is the country that has closed it’s doors to people who are holding her accountable for her actions and who are consciously choosing to boycott Israel on small or large scales. People that love the land, but feel strongly that the Occupation should cease to exist. The Knesset has voted to close it’s doors to people that question. Israel is no longer open to the Jewish people (at least not all). Sigh.

For now, I need to walk gently not with those that read my blog, but for myself. As I sit here mourning the loss of Israel in my life, I am struggling. Will I ever visit my family again, walk the streets of Jerusalem, hike Ein Gedi, climb the hills of Safed, swim in the Mediterranean? Or will I stand with those that actively support BDS and peaceful/non-violent protests?

Before the Knesset ruling, I supported boycotting those that perpetuate the Occupation, but in this moment, I am doing my best to refrain from going to a more dramatic place. Perhaps I will end up there, but tonight, I will just sit with the deep sadness that comes with losing an old friend.

l’Shalom – May we find it in our day!

Note: When I was a child, I was forced to withstand some pretty horrific family dynamics including child abuse; it is all that I knew.  Just because it was my norm doesn’t mean it should have been. I feel the same way about the Occupation.

 

 

 

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Boise River which flows through Treasure Valley - Dianne Hoff

Sunrise ove the Boise River which flows through Treasure Valley Courtesy of Dianne Hoff

Darkness turns to light
Night turns to day
Time moves forward

Life is what it is
Nothing stops
Cycles continue

Pain evolves
Peace rolls forwards and backwards
My spirit survives and often thrives

Needing the light of day
Treasuring the natural cocoon of night
Metaphorically surrounded regardless of time

Always. . . .

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The gift of prayer is it often gives my feelings a voice and leads to balance.

There are so many connotations about darkness and light, night and day. And yet the flow or cycle helps to strengthen our connection to all life forces.

(Note: This piece was inspired by Ma’ariv Aravim, from my evening prayers.)

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“May Shekinah’s radiant and abiding love and brachas
shine upon your faces, children, women and men of Paris
May the Compassionate one grant wisdom, compassionate action
and wise guidance for the ones that implement the laws and just action.
You are loved by unending love, and know you are not
alone. We stand, sit, sing with you in prayer, sisterhood
and brotherhood, deep love and life.”
Words of love by Lori Wynters

small chai

Devastation.
Destruction.
Terrorism.
Hatred

and

Prayer
Action
Love
Peace

and

Visioning
Believing
Dreaming
Hoping

There is no option
Moving forward
Reaching for the stars
Creating light

We have our hands, we have our hearts. If we want to find peace, we have to create it. And for those who are despondent, may I be a person who creates the light to lead the way until they can do it for themselves.

May my prayers reach God and my heart reach humankind.
May actions and love speak louder than words.
May I make a difference in all the right ways.

You and I, we both have a village that we cherish; we live in a world that is yearning for peace. My prayer, my hope, my belief is that together our villages can stop hatred from spreading and inspire love of humankind to spread.

ופרש עלינו סכת שלומך
Ufros Aleynu Sukkat Shlomecha
Spread over us a shelter of your peace

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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.

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.

Life is beautiful; life is also hard and messy.

Sometimes we look at people and we forget that inside their soul lies many layers of complicated thoughts and feelings, life experiences with sparks of pain and light, some on the surface and so many more on the layers that lie beneath what you see.  None of us know what is happening or has happened beyond the scope of what we see.

This Shabbat, we read the story of creation from this week’s parsha, weekly Torah reading. If you have ever followed this story, you know that all of creation started with darkness.  What a profound metaphor, only after we face the darkness can life or light emerge.

At the moment, I am considering this metaphor in a myriad of ways.  Besides the creation story, life often evolves from dark. The list is endless. All of us started in the womb, caterpillars spin a silky cocoon before they can emerge as a butterfly, seeds take root in the soil before they sprout, and life’s messiness sometimes leads to beautiful gifts (and sometimes not). What all of these things have in common is that so much is happening below the surface.

Yesterday nurtured my intense spirit as profoundly as I have seen in recent times.  And throughout each and every step of the day, I kept finding myself reflecting.

Things are not always what they seem.

As I sat at the memorial service for a 28 year old man who walked into interstate traffic without making it past all lanes of traffic, I realized that there was so much more to this story than I could have known by watching the news or even understood before knowing the fuller story. While some of you will judge this story based on your own experiences, you should know that appearances may be different than reality. And in this case, there is no doubt that what the average person would ‘see’ is far from what was.  May this man’s family and loved ones find solace in his memory being for a blessing. After hearing his siblings and his father speak, I have no doubt that that is exactly what will be.

And then I came home to find the eulogy of a 15 year old who committed suicide. As I read my friend’s eulogy, my heart broke open wide. So often we see what’s in front of us, but if our eyes are not open wide, we miss the entire story.

Every person has a role in the world we live. As a mother, a sister, a friend, a teacher, a human being, I know this. As someone who was a daughter, a wife, and a friend to many that I have lost, I know this even more. It takes a village to raise a child. And it takes a universe to make sure the child makes it to adulthood or at least it feels that way. And through our lives, it takes compassion and grace to support those we love and to receive what is offered too.

Things are not always what they seem.

When I look at a long and winding road. I treasure the beauty and notice the flowers, the bridges, the terrain, the wildlife.  I may even notice the tractors, the cars, or the people I pass.  But what I don’t know is what colored that beauty. Did someone die on that road? Did a flood or fire once leave the land barren? Did someone’s heart break when their beloved partner of 20 years told them that their relationship was over. All I know is what I see, that’s it.

In the last several years, I have been fascinated with Facebook. Some people believe that they know who I am based on my posts. Perhaps they are correct, perhaps not. My guess is that those who only use my facebook status lines to know how I am are only getting part of the story. I am far too intense to share my heart and soul so deeply. And in all honesty, I am quite private too.

Things are not always what they seem.

Yesterday, I learned what it means to look a little deeper. Since all creation can be messy, I know that I have to get down and messy with it. I have to plant the seeds, by playing in the dirt; paint a picture, by painting lots of mistakes before my skills emerge or a masterpiece is created; by kneading the dough before it makes yummy bread; and by writing poorly before I can write coherently at worst and meaningful at best.

Each and every day that I am alive reinforces what I already know. ‘Never judge a book by it’s cover’.  As hard as it is, take the time to dig deeper and forge beautiful connections. Find out what is happening deep inside, so that you can really understand what you see on the outside.

May light follow as it did in creation. May humankind find peace in our lifetime.

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Truth

Last night, as I closed my eyes, my mind started to focus on the role of truth in our lives.

With that two Jewish teachings popped into my mind.

Teaching One

The world stands on three things:
on justice, on truth, and on peace.
Mishna, Avot 1:18

and

Teaching Two

Truth vs Falsehood
אֱמֶת ושֶׁקֶר

“The Talmud (104a) finds great significance in the form and order of the Hebrew alphabet, devoting nearly a page to understanding the symbolism behind the order and design of the alphabet. The most famous of these passages is the analysis of the Hebrew words for truth and falsehood, emet and sheker. The base of the letters (aleph mem taav) of emet is solid, while the letters of sheker (shin kuf reish) are wobbly, having only one “leg” each. Furthermore, the letters of sheker are the 21st, 19th and 20th letters respectively; whereas emet has the first, last, and middle letters of the alphabet. While one may have to look for truth, truth is true everywhere; whereas lies, readily available, have to be constantly updated for each new situation.”
By Rabbi Jay Kelman in http://bit.ly/1ExqL1c

Both teachings focus on the significance of truth within our lives.  Balance really is much easier to find when you focus on living a life a truth.  I love that Judaism surrounds me with teachings that support the act of living consciously.  And I am fortunate that in this moment it supports what I intuitively believe around truth vs falsehood….Jewish teachings don’t always work so easily. 🙂

Making Truth vs Falsehood Personal

Throughout my life I have experienced deception on so many levels both big and small.  Sometimes it is as simple as navigating half-truths or silence; sometimes it is as complicated as denial or downright lies.  But as I move into what could be the second half of my life, I realize that I want to live in a place of authenticity and grace regardless of where I stand.

In my life, I have, like many of us, been known for being silent or sharing only half truths and I have experienced the same realities from those in my life.  As I move forward in my life, I crave people that inspire transparency and allow me the space to be transparent.  Whether friend or lover, employer or employee, I want to be surrounded with people that don’t need to hide behind half-truths or downright lies. I also want to be the person that can hear both what is being said and what is not being said.

Trusting my heart to receive the truth and to share the truths will only happen as I develop a practice that is worthy of such a life. In order to make trust an integral part of my life, I need to first make practice a conscious one. I prefer to choose to live with integrity and surround myself with those that live in a place with a similar practice.

When considering Teaching One (see above), I find myself faced with a question.  How can we have justice, truth, and peace with each interaction? We can’t – of course.  Justice and truth do not always leave us with a sense of peace.  Dealing with truth and sometimes justice can be hard.  Our feelings are a huge variable in this journey.  And what feels good to one isn’t necessarily good for others.  Ugh!

Lately, I have been considering the role of true friends in my life.  I am actively trying to find a way to navigate those that really see things in a way that I find, quite honestly, sick.  How can they be close friends if their values or thought processes make me extremely uncomfortable.  Recently, a childhood friend became furious with me because of an article I posted on Facebook.  In truth, this person is sort of like family. I shouldn’t have been happy to have her out of my Facebook life, but I was thrilled!  We all have own truths, our own ways of seeing things.  And sometimes, I just don’t want to debate or to hear the other side. . . I have to, how else will I learn?  Sigh. Balance. . .always working towards finding balance.

When you don’t like how someone thinks, it is really challenging to navigate a warm relationship in which peace can grow.  There is no way that someone can convince me that that certain politics makes sense.  PERIOD. I don’t understand how people shop at Walmart when they don’t need to. Why would anyone that understands slave labor purchase products that support such practices.  And if I have to silence my passions, can I be in a place of truth within a friendship.  In the same way that each of us have our own truths, each of us also have to choose how to live and to make decisions based on our values.  Aren’t we all evolving?

I am struggling.

And since I am already a little cranky about how to connect with people when I dislike some of their values and belief systems, why not explore another challenging aspect of my struggle with truth.

I am learning; I am growing.

Not everyone feels the need to share their soul or raw energy as openly as I do – that has to be ok.  I am blessed with so many different types of people in my world and not all of them walk in the world as I do.  Just because someone chooses not to share the entire picture, doesn’t mean they are speaking a half-truth or falsehood.  Does it?

Close relationships may be the perfect place to hold back just a little.  Do we really need to fully express our feelings to those closest to us? As a mother, I wonder.  Part of helping my sons to develop into secure adults is by allowing them the room to express themselves without me needing to influence them.  With them, I am learning to say that I think it is best for me to refrain from sharing my thoughts at this time so that they can best figure out their thoughts for themselves.  But what about a partner or a spouse, sometimes we feel like we need to know everything, but other times people need their space.

The key to all interactions is realizing your non-negotiables, what aren’t you willing to be flexible about. Finding balance is not as easy as always being in truthful place, but to me I keep seeking to find the best way to navigate with others; I need to cultivate the solid footing that comes with walking the path of אֱמֶת, truth. Perhaps what I need is to hold myself with transparency and grace, then I can hope to surround myself with those that do the same.

Relationships are so complicated.

“The Universe doesn’t like secrets.
It conspires to reveal the truth, to lead you to it.”
― Lisa Unger, Beautiful Lies

May truth emerge in each and every human interaction.

 

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“The most significant gifts are the ones most easily overlooked. Small, everyday blessings: woods, health, music, laughter, memories, books, family, friends, second chances, warm fireplaces, and all the footprints, scattered throughout our days.”
~Sue Monk Kidd

Chava.cake

All of life has a rhythm.

For me, the rhythm comes from an inner light that radiates out and allows me to honor the beat of my heart and the song of my soul. With each step, I feel myself become more and more grounded to the earth.

Yesterday, I celebrated my life; I found joy in the love that surrounded me and in the peace within the storm of life.

For the days prior to my birthday, I was considering ignoring my birthday, removing any mention of it on Facebook and closing the door to my bedroom so that I could ‘lick my wounds’ from a challenging last year.  And then I realized that the last year does not define who I am as  a person.  But if it did define me, I would be a woman who defies darkness by always doing what it takes to succeed.

With each breath, I navigate the very real realities of life’s journeys, where I am, and where I want to go.  I dream big and then work towards making my dreams happen.

One of the most treasured gifts came from my friend and poet Susan Windle who said, “Love to you in your birthing time, dear Chava”.  Those sweet words reminded me that not only am I loved, but I am actively becoming the person I want to be.  This sacred birthing process is empowering me to grow in ways that would not have been possible in the not very distant past.

Authenticity is flowing from the core of my being.  I am seeking simplicity in all that I do; I am working towards living a life of transparency and integrity.  I am weaving words together and finding center by speaking with the fullness of my voice. Vulnerability no longer is filtered by the bravado that I don’t really feel.  I have learned and am continuing to learn how to use my voice in all of it’s forms.

Over the last year, I have been expressing my most purest of feelings without holding back from those closest to me. Sometimes tears fall down my cheeks as I try to cope with deep sadness; sometimes passion flows from my lips and from my fingertips. And then there is my laughter the reverberates the core of my being.  While I have always been real, I am trying to remove the shield that has sometimes protected me from my deepest of feelings.

I really do believe what my friend Marc Hershkowitz said, “I know it’s going to be a great year!” I am determined to shine and to be the best person I can be.

While life has been a little harsh of late, it doesn’t have to put an edge into my spirit. I am alive and I intend to celebrate the gifts that surround me with each and every rhythm that is part of my journey.

May this year be the year for my writing to inspire people, my creativity to flow, and my heart to emerge in new and beautiful ways.

This is my year to thrive; I hope you join me!

 

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Yesterday, I felt like a broken vessel that had nothing to give to the world around me.  With deep sadness, I began to untangle the spiritual hell of the last few years and 2014 in specific.  I allowed myself the space to mourn the loss of time and some beloved connections.

As someone who chooses to find light in the midst of darkness, I wasn’t sure how to navigate out or if I could in fact do it.  The good news is that I literally have no reference for failure in my personal life.  I have always moved towards the light and found the sparks when life felt destitute.

The beauty of yesterday and the dark times that preceded yesterday is that even in my deepest sadness, I knew I was being held and loved.  I just had to go through all that I was feeling.  My heart felt like it was shattering nearly every moment of the day, but by night I was easing into a quieter and less dramatic space.

Today, I am far from joyous, but I am feeling the light warm my heart; I am opening to life’s realities and breathing a little more into the pain; the pain is breaking up.  With each breath, I am finding a little more balance and a little  hope too.

No tears have fallen today and I have had time to rest, write, and read.  In the midst of it all, I loved preparing a nice breakfast for my family and mostly acknowledging that I was moving forward. And in a few minutes, I will be chanting with some new and old friends.   With each act, I am putting my vessel back together.

2014 can not define who I am, but it can help me to grow.  My spirit may be wounded, but with each crack more and more light can enter.  Rumi was correct when he said, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

May sparks of light make 2015 a year of blessings, peace, and love.

celebrating with a mint tea latté. While today is a day of reflection, healing, and moving forward, it is also a day of celebrating what is. Yum! לחיים! To Life

Celebrating with a mint tea latté.
While today is a day of reflection, healing, and moving forward, it is also a day of celebrating what is. Yum!
לחיים! To Life

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