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Posts Tagged ‘shalom’

Tonight we counted Day 49 of the Omer, which is 7 weeks of the counting. Day 49 is referred to as Malkhut sheh b’Malkhut,  Wholeness 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.

Reflection:  In Hebrew, the word shalom means peace.  If you take the root letters from shalom, you will also have the word shalem which means completeness or wholeness.

The counting of the Omer has been a spiritual journey for me.  I have actively been trying to strengthen my foundation by doing the work to make myself a little more complete, a little more whole.  Only by doing the holy work of taking care of my being, do I have a chance of finding inner peace and creating outer peace too.

While I have chosen not to share the specifics of my journey over the past 7 weeks, I have been directly paralleling the journey of the Israelites from slavery to liberation.  While it takes more than 49 days to become free of the challenges that have troubled or enslaved any of our hearts and minds, the 49 days can still be used to travel towards greater spiritual liberation.

My journey will continue, but I am feeling more centered and complete now than I did 49 days ago.  Navigating inner and outer peace for me and for the world I live can be intense.  While I often smile and laugh, I also never stop thinking.  I struggle with how to navigate so many aspects of life.  Each and every person matters; the world matters.  Child slavery still exists; global warming destroys; natural castrophies exist; senseless people find ways to cause war; gun violence never stops; terrorism happens.  And each and every time I walk out my door I pray that I will return to love my family.  I take NOTHING for granted.

Earlier this week, a friend was having a bad day and accused me of lacking consideration for that was important in the world.  Little did he know that I have to find laughter and moments of joy or I will crumble.  I have to celebrate my journey to health, my yoga class, my ability to hear.  Life matters.  Intensity courses through my veins, but if I don’t breathe deeply sometimes and acknowledge the gifts, I would crumble in the face of the disasters and potential disaster that surround all that is. Courage, strength, and hope matter.

CafePasseNeeds

As we count Day 49 of the Omer is my hope and my prayer that each of us are ready for the end of the journey from slavery to liberation.  May we feel whole in the core of our being; may peace radiate within us and around us.

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‘Ufros Aleinu Sukkat Shlomecha ופרש עלינו סכת שלומך — Spread over us Your shelter of peace’ is a verse from the Hashkiveinu prayer which Jews say during their evening prayers.  Whether you believe that there is a Higher Power empowering us with peace or whether it comes from within, it is still a hope for many of us.  Most every one I know is seeking the protection of a peaceful shelter.

Here is what we will hope will become our Sukkat Shlomecha. May it be so. . .

Each time I connect with this verse through prayer, song, or study, I feel like I am spinning a cocoon of warmth and love around myself as a means of protecting my spirit from the world around me.  The irony here is that the word sukkat or shelter, also refers to a sukkah (a temporary structure that is far from solid).

In this moment, as I am trying to type this blog, another thought is coming to me.   A shelter of peace is created in many ways through a safe home, loving friends, and a connected community.  As I grapple with creating all of those things in my life and within a new community, my sweet, loving Maddie, my dog, has curled up in my lap and reminded me that she is a strong part of my shelter of peace.  Where there is love and connectedness, we can be at peace.

Reflecting on the use of word sukkat as a shelter leaves me wondering if whoever wrote this prayer realizes that most everything in life is temporary, but we have to find peace within the realities of each moment; if not we will go nuts.  Traveling in the dessert or for our harvesting, we dwelled in a sukkah; the structures were not meant to be permanent.  Is anything in our lives really permanent?

Our lives are full of impermanence.  Our relationships evolve on a continuous basis.  Our children grow, our friendships evolve, we move, we grow.  Our loved ones die and more loved ones are born.  And at the end of the day, we all have to find a way to create our own peaceful shelter.

Shalom or shlomecha is my favorite word in the entire world.  The root of shalom refers to wholeness or completeness; once you have wholeness, peace is possible. With every ounce of my being I pray for the feeling of completeness that comes when my spiritual world interacts with my essence.  I strive to create internally what I hope will also exist in my work, my community, and my world.  In truth shalom needs to begin with me before I can do the holy work of creating wholeness or peace for others.

May we all create ways to ‘spread over us Your shelter of peace’.

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Saying good-bye isn’t always easy, yet sometimes we are forced to experience the inevitable.  How ironic that the word shalom in Hebrew refers to not only good-bye, but peace too.

Another fascination for me is that the root letters for the word shalom infer wholeness or completeness.  With that in mind, perhaps once you choose to accept the reality of saying good-bye, then you have the possibility of being a little more whole or at peace.

In truth, we all experience endings or loss.  Sometimes those you love die; sometimes relationships change or end.  Life is a cycle; relationships have a cycle.  As it says in Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, “To everything there is a season. . . . “

May our souls have the ability to let go when saying good-bye becomes our reality.

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Words

I love words.  I love reading them; I love understanding them; I love speaking them.  Weaving words together is probably one of the top five things that I love to do.

So when I woke up this morning, I tried to find my favorite word.  So far it hasn’t worked.  I have found a few words I love more than any other.  What makes me laugh is that the first words I thought of weren’t even in English.  The top choice wasn’t even in a language that I know.  🙂

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Namaste – The Spirit in me honors the spirit in you.  – This one Sanskrit word fills me with inner peace; it illustrates how I walk in the world.  My interactions with the world around me can be seen in the this one word.  When one says the word Namaste, s/he consciously acknowledges that the life-force that exists within the spirit that is front of them.  I love the universe and the spirit of nearly each and every living and dead being.

While the saying might be Sanskit, the teaching can also be found in Perek Shirah, the Chapter of Song (or better known as the Song of the Universe).  In Perek Shirah, all of creation is given a place of honor.

I say Namaste when I see a dead animal on the road or an ambulance rushing past.  By saying Namaste, I am actively acknowledging the life-force that surrounds not only me but every living spirit.  When I hear wisdom from a teacher or from any beautiful soul or when I am leaving a beloved friend, my hands go to prayer pose and with a little bow I say Namaste.  Saying Namaste means that I am valuing the life in front of me.

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Shalom – peace, hello, good-bye – While Shalom has many meanings in Hebrew; the meaning that touches me in the most poignant of ways is peace.  In order to best understand this word, you have to understand the make-up of the Hebrew language.  Each word in the Hebrew language has a three-letter root.  In this case, the root refers to wholeness and completion.  Peace exists when people feel a sense of wholeness, when we reach a sense that our work is done.

If our hearts and souls do not have a sense of wholeness, there is no peace.  In truth, shalom comes in so many different shapes and sizes.  Each of us has moments of shalom; the work towards finding peace is constant.  A good way to approach peace is to realize that you might only be able to find peace in a small area of your life; finding peace is a challenge, so parceling it out will help peace feel more attainable.

Each step towards peace leads to more opportunity for a healthier rhythm within life.

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Breathe – to take air, oxygen, etc., into the lungs and expel it; inhale and exhale; respire.  Breathing means that the life-force is within me.  With each breath, I am actively engaged in life, in living.  When I breathe deeply I am not only taking in life, I am giving in return.  Without breathing, my life is nothing.

With each breath, I am reminded that the life that surrounds me and all of us takes many different forms.  I have had the gift of watching my son be intubated and then watching him take a breath on his own when the machines were removed.  Anyone that has watched a baby take their first breath knows what that feels like.  I never take breathing for granted; it isn’t always a given.  The key is that most of us can breathe deeply and take control of our breathing.

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Each of us has the power to take control of our lives by living life to it’s fullest.  I find it fascinating that each of my favorite words is about living life consciously.  Blessings come in so many forms.  Walking through life is not always easy; sometimes it is really tough even painful.  The good news is that I do have some control, I can decide to walk gently or to leap with gusto.  I can choose to find peace within the storm or fight every step.  There is a time for walking with a heavy step and walking with a softer step; but there is no choice for moving forward.

With each step I take, I pray that I have the strength to breathe deeply, to walk thoughtfully in peace, and to remember that I am part of a much larger universe.

May we each find our footing to walk in the world.

Namaste (The Spirit in me honors the Spirit in you),

With blessings and light,

Chava

PS-To see a picture that I created for this post, but can’t figure out how to post, go to http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/3783264/Life-Force

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