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Posts Tagged ‘shofar’

Note:
Life is hard. On a good day, we navigate with ease. On a bad day, we tread water and hope we can stay afloat. On most days, most of us have moments where the pendulum swings throughout the day.

What I am writing about below is where I have been over the last weeks. I am writing with transparency knowing that this will make some people feel uncomfortable, but the good news is that I make through challenging times by remembering that I have a tribe that is holding me.

If you are part of my tribe, thank you for being there.

May we all find our tribe.

~ ~ ~

When you’re down and trouble
And you need some love and care
A
nd nothing, nothing is going right
C
lose your eyes and think of me
A
nd soon I will be there
T
o brighten up even your darkest night.

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend

Songwriter: Carole King

I have been blessed with a tribe that holds my spirit and reminds me that I am loved. All I have to do is let them know that I am in a dark place, and they show up.

The last weeks have been painful for me. In fact, I have been feeling crushed and struggling to breathe. All I have wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cry. And yet, while I have had some really dark hours, I have been doing what I do. I have been taking one step and then another, and still another. I am not out of the woods yet, but I am doing what I need to do as I slowly emerge.

Day 55 - Tears Can Cleanse your heart and spiritI have cried. I have journaled. I have cried some more. I have sat in silence. I have stared at my computer screen only to get nothing done. I have painted my little cards with the wisdom I needed or sad truths. I have written some really hard pieces that can only be written when I am in significant pain. Did I say I have cried?

Last weekend, I wrote one of my closest friends and told her I couldn’t make her daughter’s wedding because I wasn’t able to get my shit together. I was honest. And then this past week, I blew the shofar at a climate change rally and spoke about how the shofar was a call to wake up; we need climate action now. Just showing up helped me get out of my own way for just a little while. I still went to sleep with tears in my eyes and a hole in my heart. But on that night, I slept really well for the first time in a while.

BTW, this is the first year in decades that I haven’t blown the shofar or rams horn nearly every day during the month of Elul, the month before Rosh HaShanah.  In Jewish tradition, we blow the shofar as one of the tools for inspiring us to to wake up and do the spiritual work of stretching and growing so that we are ready for the new year.

Instead of blowing the shofar, I have been allowing myself to be exactly where I am.

AND

My tribe is showing up.

One by one, my friends are reaching out and reminding me that they are holding space for me. The most impressive is my friend whose daughter is getting married. She offered to come to me anytime. I can’t ask, but I love that she means it. I wouldn’t be good company and I don’t know how to be taken care of when I want to bury my head in the sand. Another friend of mine who is busy beyond words offered to drive an hour both ways just so she could give me a hug. A couple of others called, some offered to listen, and others opened their homes to me whenever I am up for a visit. Living in Houston is hard because most of my loved ones live elsewhere.

And then a couple of nights ago, I asked my friends who live by the water if I could run away to their house even if I am dark. Of course, they said yes and then they called other friends who live close to them and texted me that everyone wanted to see me. And what I heard in that text is that they will welcome me however I show up. Unfortunately, I need to wait until after the Jewish holidays, but I think healing will happen by the water.

Over the last couple of days, I have started answering the phone or responding to text messages. Mostly, I am still hiding, but a little less than I was. I haven’t wanted to talk to many people, so I haven’t. But I have decided to be real a couple of times on social media and within my blogging. I have cried at work and felt loved even if I felt unlovable. I am being transparent. I am “living out loud” as Émile Zola would say.

The truth is that why I am sad doesn’t really matter. There are a lot of reasons and I think I have only shared all of them with one of my friends who called at the ‘right’ moment. I wonder if I chewed his ear off. Since he has kept reaching out this week, I don’t think I scared him away. I am really blessed And the beautiful reality is that I know that most of my friends would do what this one friend did for me.

I’ve also been blown away by the love texts, the sweet private messages, and even a couple of notes. I am allowing my friends to see that I am living in the messy middle. And instead of ignoring me, they are quietly showing up and letting me know that I am loved.

~ ~ ~

Growing up, I used to hear that we make plans and God laughs. #Truth

Last Saturday, a friend, who is also a congregant, called my cell phone. When I saw his name on my caller ID I decided to pick up the phone. I, incorrectly assumed something must be wrong because he generally doesn’t call me out of the blue. Looking back though, I realized that this friend always calls me out of the blue and it is ALWAYS a welcome surprise.  Fast forward, I am not sure how he started the phone conversation, but he quickly said, “I’d love to do karaoke with you. Let me get with my wife and let’s just do it.” This was in response to me saying on a silly Facebook questionnaire that I have wanted to do karaoke since my 50th birthday nearly four years ago. LOL! And then this friend made the serious mistake of asking me how I was. Ugh! And with that I could barely hold it together, so I started to cry. Damn!

Guess what I am doing to do tonight.  Karaoke. Of course, he and his wife meant it when they said that they would arrange something and get back to me. At the time, I was hoping it would be months away, but no such luck.  And you know what, it is time for me to do something like this. While I don’t know if I will have the guts to sing in front of others, I am going to spend some time with friends. It’s time for me to move forward differently.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking I need to start having fun. I know that I am too serious. My spirit is wrapped up in making the world a better place through activism, writing, other forms of creativity, and even my work. And while my creativity brings me real joy, I don’t really think of it as fun. While people tend to see me as someone who smiles and laughs easily, I am also someone who needs to work on having fun. More on that later.

Living authentically these last weeks has been hard. I want to hide, but somehow this hasn’t been an option this time around. My broken spirit is out of the closet. And while I am (somewhat) working and showing up in life, I am also being real with every step I am taking.

My loved ones are an AMAZING testament to what it means to be in my tribe. All I have to do is be me and they love me just as I am. I better stop here before I cry yet again.

Hineini, Here I am! I am doing the holy work of healing.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,

Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

 

 

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This year’s gifts have exceeded anything that I could have thought possible.  To say that I was humbled by the love is an understatement. Now that I am moving to a healing place for both my body and my soul, it is time to reflect inwardly and do the holy work of grounding myself.

Today I realized how the shofar calls to me in a way I never thought of before; it feels like a healing instrument with each sound bringing clarity and strength to my core being.

Below is the symbolism of the Shofar as I relate to it. This is inspired, but not necessarily derived from the Jewish tradition,

  1. Tekiah ― one long, straight blast.
    Meaning: Remember that I am part of a larger universe.  With that knowledge, I need to do the Godly work of tikkun olam, repairing the world; this isn’t a choice, this is a calling.
  2. Shevarim ― three medium, wailing sounds
    Meaning: “When we think about the year gone by, we know deep down that we’ve failed to live up to our full potential. In the coming year, we yearn not to waste that opportunity ever again. The Kabbalists say that Shevarim ― three medium, wailing blasts ― is the sobbing cry of a Jewish heart ― yearning to connect, to grow, to achieve.”* May I connect, grow, and evolve to do the holy work that is part of my calling.
  3. T’ruah ― 9 quick blasts in short succession
    Meaning: We “need to wake up and be honest and objective about our lives: Who we are, where we’ve been, and which direction we’re headed. The T’ruah sound ― 9 quick blasts in short succession ― resembles an alarm clock, arousing us from our spiritual slumber. The shofar brings clarity, alertness, and focus.”*

Chava with Shofar Elul 5775

Another more personal way to look at the each breath into the shofar:

Tekiah
The Universe is calling to me; I have so much to do! It is time to be more present.

Shevarim
Sometimes I can’t hold back my sense of desolation:
the plight of abused children,
poverty,
climate change/global warming,
human rights.

So much is calling my name; I have yet to do enough. Can I ever do enough?

T’ruah 
Step by step, I will continue to do what I must do. And while there is much to do, I can only do what I can do. Maybe I can inspire others to do the same. And perhaps that can be enough.

Finding a new rhythm as I create new spiritual space in Houston and continue to serve the larger world.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The sounds of the shofar inspire me to wake up and live more consciously. Over this coming year, may I make a difference for good and impact the universe that I am blessed to call home.

*   From http://www.aish.com/h/hh/rh/shofar/Shofar_Symbolism.html

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Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

Life is a challenge to be embraced!

Hineyni (Here I am)

Elul is a month of reflection; for one month prior to the High Holy Days, Jews take time and prepare for the upcoming year.  On Rosh HaShanah, we celebrate the New Year and on Yom Kippur, we pray that we will be written in the book of life or at least that we will be able to fully experience life in the upcoming year.  For me, this year will be the year of change; it will be my year to shape my future and to reach towards the next chapters of my life.  There is no option to reaching and moving forward, not for me.

For now, I won’t focus on all that I am navigating, but I will share that there are moments when I live in fear of where my life is now and how I will get to the place that will sustain me.  The good news is that for the most part, I believe that I will ultimately land on my feet and in a far greater place than I am now.

Know that this isn’t easy; it isn’t easy to do a cheshbon hanefesh, an accounting of the soul by looking back at the previous year. Who wants to look at their mistakes or ways they could have operated on a full cylinder?  On the other hand, by looking deeply inside, we are granted the gift of perspective.

Accountings make me happy.  When I make accountings, it means I am working towards emerging from where I am currently standing.

Over the next 29 days, I will begin prepare for Rosh HaShanah and all that the new year will bring.  Here is how:

  1. Wash my fingers/hands by using a special cup – This is a way to spiritual prepare for the day by cleansing my fingers before actively engaging in the day’s Elul Journey.
  2. Blow the shofar – The sound of the ram’s horn will waken my spirit and remind me to take a moment to reflect about where I am and where I want to go.
  3. 30-Day Plank Challenge – In the plank challenge, the goal is to build core strength. I love having another reminder to take care of my core and to build a stronger me. (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/409616528582078793/?fb_ref=285275095054683292%3A7AUoGBLL1Gafopel2Fzr)
  4. Chant Psalm 27 daily (actually 2 times) – This chant is a tool that reminds us that while we can hope for God to emerge, but we must do everything we can to strengthen ourselves so that we can become the best we can and live our days with God or with Godliness.
  5. Chant/Meditate each day for 10-30 minutes. On Shabbat, I will try to embrace this practice for at least an hour.
  6. Blogging – Each day, I will share a poem/prose that moves me forward through my Elul Journey. During some of those days, I might also do a fuller check-in on how all the other parts of this daily journey are going.

Taking my Elul Journey in such a public way is exciting and challenging.  With each breath, each action, and each word, I am making a choice to emerge from wherever I am to a place that is not fully known to me yet.  As the journey unfolds, may the seeds of vulnerability blossom into beauty and a place of strength.

May 5775 be full of blessings and beauty at every turn!

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