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Posts Tagged ‘rebirth’

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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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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Middah (character trait) focus: Loving what is

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.

“The more clearly you understand yourself and your emotions, the more you become a lover of what is.” ~Baruch Spinoza

In this final week of the counting of the Omer, I feel like it is a good think about considering where I fit into the entire universe with all of it’s gifts and challenges.  In traditional circles, this is considered the week of malkhut/kingdom.  With that in mind, I want to openly consider what it could mean to really rebirth or navigate our towards freedom.

Life is hard, really hard at times.  Sometimes it is difficult to tread the challenges.  Yet once we fully connect with what is real, even what needs to be transformed within ourselves, we can love what is because it is all part of the journey.

I always seek to find the light that surrounds me.  This past week, I found out that I wasn’t a candidate for a position even though I had spend over four hours on the phone with folks.  What is lovely is that the calls were full of positive interactions and I was able to articulate many of my ideas and hear other ideas in healthy exchange; the interview process including the rejection letter were really quite lovely. And after reflection, I believe I could have had a good experience, but it was probably not the best environment for someone who often thinks outside of the box.  I need a position, but that one lacked what I needed in a career position.

Finding the gifts within all aspects of life, good and challenging, is the only way I know how to walk through the world. Loving what is offers me a chance to embrace the moment even the ones that need to ultimately be transformed.

 

Finding light within darkness.

Finding light within darkness. . . .

 

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Middah (character trait) focus: Creating Healthy Boundaries

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.

“The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom.” 
~Tara BrachRadical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

We all have different needs.  While I need a lot of solitary time so that I can write, others thrive by being surrounded by family and friends.  Finding a healthy boundary that works for each of us is a key to being healthy.

In life there is so much we need to accomplish for our families, our friends, ourselves AND for our work and our communities.  We don’t always have a choice on our timing, but we do need to create the pockets of space that allow us to thrive.  We can also become more aware about how we communicate with others and allow for healthy boundaries within those connections.

May each of us honor ourselves and others too, by allowing for healthy boundaries.

 

 

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Middah (character trait) focus: ‘Say what you need to say’

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.

Sometime in the last year or two I found myself struggling with how to share my thoughts with someone I loved.  There were things I wanted to say, but I was terrified that I would lose the person in my life if I didn’t say what I needed to say.  And I was also aware that if I didn’t say what was weighing heavy on my heart, I would lose myself and feel forever crushed.  It was a painful time in my life.

During this time, the song “Say” by John Mayer kept coming on the radio.  Each time I heard the words with the melody, I found myself more ready to speak my thoughts.  In truth ‘saying what I needed to say’ didn’t make everything better, it rarely does.  It did, however, help me to clear the air and to ultimately move forward.

Since that time, this song has come to my head each and every time I find myself locked into what feels like a silent place.  I have to remember that my voice matters and my ideas count.  While silence is a powerful tool which inspires me to think and to become grounded, my voice and my thoughts are worthy of being heard.  The key is finding the balance.

May we all always remember that our voice matters and to ‘say what [we] need to say’.

“Say” except

Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You’d better know that in the end
Its better to say too much
Then never say what you need to say againEven if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide openSay what you need to say [x24]

Writer(s): John Mayer, John Clayton Mayer
Copyright: Sony/ATV Tunes LLC, Specific Harm Music, Goodium Music, Reach Music Publishing-digital O.B.O. Goodium Music

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Middah (character trait) focus: Allow for the chaos to lead to. . . .

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.

Courtesy of The Art of Simple Facebook page.

Courtesy of The Art of Simple Facebook page.

In the midst of the chaos or within life’s disorderliness, amazing ideas and creativity emerge.  For those of you that know me well, you know that I tend to need an organized space in order to create; physical chaos drives me insane.  Having said that,  nothing in life is simple and never has been.  So instead of fighting life’s craziness, I tend to welcome it and then embrace it as I move forward.  Fighting the chaos only frustrates me, so I try to go with the flow and handle all that is front of me.

I love how the greatest findings happen when it appears that the challenges are too great.

May each of us navigate life’s chaos (in whatever form it takes) and experience huge gifts as we actively embrace the journey.

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Middah (character trait) focus: Loving My Teens & All My Students For Who They Are

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.

Over the years I have been transformed by the young people that have touched my life; each and every one of them added depth to my life.  Somehow they trusted me and as their trust grew so did my ability to connect with them.  What I love about all of the children and teens that I have known over the years is that as long as I was willing to listen, I could build relationships with them.  I am so humbled by the different connections I have experienced.

Back in 2002, when I started working at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, I had no idea how to work with preteen girls.  But I didn’t actually realize that I didn’t have the skills, I faked it and somehow with each success I grew.  I loved the girls that were to become my Rosh Hodesh Girls (a group that met during the first days of the new moon each month); my life was better because of the work I did with them for several years.  The work transformed me and made me more aware of what it means to be a teacher, a mentor, woman, and a friend.  I wish I could thank each and every one of the young women today, but I have lost contact over the years.  Sigh.

Why am I reflecting back to my Rosh Hodesh Girls now?

Loved my time with Lucy Heller, Karen Judin, Rachel Rheingold - shown with Chava Gal-Or (from left to right)

Loved my time with Lucy Heller, Karen Judin, and Rachel Rheingold – shown with Chava Gal-Or (from left to right)

Today, three amazing young women took me to lunch.  Two years ago, I met them when I began working at Temple Emanu-El in Tucson.  Two of them taught Israeli dance and one was a madricha, (a teaching assistant); all three of them were giving and wise with their students and their friends too.  Within a very short time of meeting these three teens, I grew to like them very much; they became people that I now consider to be friends.  While I have always treasured the relationships I have built with my students, it was my relationship with the now college students from Adat Shalom that opened me up to really building meaningful relationships with those that were once simply my students.

One of the things I treasured most about my time with the Temple Emanu-El teens today was when they told me how I impacted them.  What I know now is that I touched their lives because I respected them as individuals and as teens; I listened to them and appreciated whatever they brought to the table; I trusted them to be leaders.  The bottom-line is that I do not believe in coercive leadership; I believe in building partnerships.

So often I work with rabbis, teachers, and parents that feel the need to tell our teens and all of our children not only how to walk in the world. but how to use their minds.  I don’t feel this way.  I want to open a door or a window.  I want to share the tools I treasure and the knowledge that has guided me throughout life; I want to give those I work with the room to play and to experience Judaism in a way that is comfortable for them.  My goal is always to hear both what those I work with are saying and what they are not yet saying; I want all the children, teens, and adults that I work to be comfortable with me and the gifts I have to offer.  My door is open.

Today I realized that all three teens were not just my co-workers, but my friends.  May they always remember that my door will be open to them.  I have grown to love them not simply as I love all my students and families; I love them as the beautiful souls that they are; I love them as my friends.

I will always be grateful to the Adat Shalom girls and the families that trusted me so many years ago.  Without them, I would not be the person I am.

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Middah (character trait) focus: Is there a fire in your soul?

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.

On the 33 day of the Counting of the Omer, many of us have a bonfire to celebrate the holiday of Lag b’Omer.  (For more info on Lag b’Omer see http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Shavuot/In_the_Community/Counting_the_Omer/Lag_BaOmer.shtml?p=0) Tonight, I found myself inspired by the idea that the bonfire is a reminder that we should find and nurture the fire in our soul.  Is there a challenge in society that compels you to actively engage in tikkun olam, repairing the world?  Are you driven to step outside of your own bubble in order to do something good for someone outside of your little world?  As I say that, I am assuming that you are a loving human being who takes care of those in your world as need be.

Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another. ~George Eliot

Over the years and to this day, I have pursued so many passions that sustain the ambers burning in my soul.  If there is an issue that needs my activism, I often do my part to make a difference for good.  Sometimes it is as simple as just noting the issues, but other times, I need to physically go out there and labor for my causes.  I am part of the human race and that makes it my responsibility to do what I can to impact the world for good.  In my heart of hearts, I believe each and every one of us should consider the bigger world and do our part to make a difference; we do not need to take on each and every issue, but we can try to do our part however big or small.

 Is there a fire in your soul? If so, what are you doing to make a difference? If not, consider trying to find one issue that you can do your part and have a positive impact.

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Middah (character trait) focus: Fuel Your Passions

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.

Writing,

the song of my heart;

the meaning of my mind;

the feeling of my soul;

Is what makes me One.

Writing has been part of my life nearly each and every day that I can remember.  Writing literally jazzes my soul, nurtures my being, and nourishes my essence.  Only through writing do I process what I am thinking and feeling.  If I am not writing, it means that something is seriously wrong and that I am probably feeling broken.

Believe it or not, I wrote the verse above when I was 14 years old and had just faced what might have been the most horrifying moment of my childhood.  As I was sitting and praying that someone would help me, I had also come to realize that only through my writing could navigate the world and be at one with the universe.  Only through writing, could I be whole.  Writing was and still is my lifeline.

Writing is with me when I am happy and when I am profoundly sad.  Writing is with me whether I am alone or with loved ones.  Writing is with me when I am processing all that is going on within my life.  Writing is with me – Always.

There is hardly a day that goes by when I am not writing or at least being inspired to write.  Writing literally sustains me and and makes it possible for me to walk in the world as I do.

In my heart, I believe that I am the person I am because I have taken time to nourish my being with words.  I am not sure how people live without nurturing their own soul with a passion.  For those of you that don’t yet have a passion, take some time and try to figure out what it is that makes you feel grounded or happy or___________ (fill in the blank).  Once you do, do your best to make it a regular practice.  Develop the skills it takes so that you feel good about whatever it is your doing.  Accept when you are able to do what you love with ease and then value the tough times because even the frustrating moments will ultimately impact you for good.

Fuel your passion and see yourself come more fully alive.

With love, light, and blessings

~Chava

 

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Middah (character trait) focus: Learn to make mistakes; learn to say I’m sorry.

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.

This year has perhaps been one of the most humbling years of my life.  I have learned to navigate mistaken assumptions and to apologize for misinterpretations.  I have had to learn new skills and cope with learning from my mistakes.  And I have been challenged by the evolution of altered connections with important people in my life.

The beauty of each and every journey is that while I may feel a little unsteady as I walk along the way, I am learning to navigate new twists and turns within my life.  And throughout it all, I am surrounded by loving friends that hear me when I say I am sorry or pick me up when I feel dejected.  New experiences lead to mistakes; new friendships lead to gifts and challenges that come from getting to know a new person.  Just remember that new realities can be like learning how to dance, you stumble until you get the hang of the new dance.

Stumbling is a part of beginnings, the key is whether or not you act graceful when you trip.

May we all be blessed to have the character which allows us to get up when we fall.

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

May we each always keep moving forward.

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