Friday, December 18, 2009

The Spiritual Struggle

The spiritual struggle is revealed in times of great stress and disequilibrium.

Like an illness, this struggle can be recognized by markers and symptomatic qualities.

What are these markers?

Loss of meaning and purpose, despair, grief or loss, hopelessness, anger at God, feeling punished or abandoned by God, guilt and a need for reconciliation.

To be disconnected from your self and from others is to be at spiritual risk.

When people are at spiritual risk, they have spiritual needs and low spiritual resources with which to meet them.

Seek to discover where your spiritual resources reside. Build them like an altar to your inner sanctuary. Daily.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Darkness Restores the Light

The eternal light was ignited in the full darkness following the destruction of the Second Temple in 165 BC.

I imagine that it was not easy for the Maccabees to find that one cruse of unopened sanctified oil amidst the debris and the rubble.

Was the miracle that the oil lasted for eight days?

Or did the miracle begin with the search?

During the dark night of the soul we find our strength, our resilience, and our determination to seek the light in the morning’s illumination.

This Saturday evening, December 12, at 5:45 p.m., I will light the second candle of Chanukah in the lobby of the Washington DC Jewish Community Center (at 16th and Q Streets NW). Following the candle lighting, there are two films being shown at the Washington Jewish Film Festival. For more information, visit

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Awareness of One

This morning I entered into the awareness of the One.

At precisely seven thirty, my friend and I descended into the womblike basement of the Washington Center for Consciousness Studies on Swann Street NW.

A flashlight escorted us to the soft pillowed area that was to be our meditation corner for the next hour.

A Hindu musical mantra streamed into our consciousness.

The voice of the leader penetrated the physical space.

She spoke of the unity of our being in the field of our awareness. She asked us to sense the energy surrounding and connecting us to each other.

Then silence. More silence. Deep silence.

A burning sensation reached my heart and illuminated an emotion I had politely tucked away inside my closed memory box..

Inside my being, a flame glimmered. My mind was still, but my body was busy interpreting the details of my excursion into my own awareness.

Then a familiar voice and melody saturated my soul. One into One. One becomes One. Echad B’Echad. A Hebrew Kirtan version of the Shema by my colleague, Yofiyah grounded me. Suddenly safe, I offered a smile inside this cavern of solitude. I even giggled. I swayed with the music of my Jewish renewal roots.

I opened my eyes and caught a glimpse of the One smiling back at me.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Note of Thanks

Gratitude is a daily spiritual practice that hightlights our blessings and increases our inner prosperity.

Since my unwarranted dismissal four months ago from my spiritual care work at GWU hospital, I have been humbled by the love and support that I have received from my friends, family and the consequential strangers in my life.

I thank you all for stepping forward with me. You have provided me with the rare intangible gifts that have strengthened my resolve to right a wrong.

Following is a link to a petition that was begun by a stranger. I would appreciate your formalizing your opposition to GWU's action by signing this online. Our goal is 1,000 signatures. Please send to friends.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Meditation on Not Knowing

There is wisdom in not knowing, and in that not knowing lies more knowing.

I enter the wisdom of not knowing with anxiety and a questioning mind.

Being in the presence of the unknown is being in the mystery of life.

Pregnant silence gives birth to a new level of understanding.

Life is full of things we do not know. The fear of the unknown in our lives brings anxiety and self-doubt. What would it be like if we lived in the mysterious field of not knowing? What if we begin to trust that in the not knowing lies seeds of the known?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Struggle: A Jacob Teaching

As a member of the clergy, I struggle to discern the true mission for my life.

What does it mean to be in God’s presence? How does one meet the Holy One face to face? Is the climb towards holiness a noble goal?

I look to the Biblical Jacob and his two dream encounters with the Divine.

In the first soothing, silent dream, Genesis 28.16, Jacob follows the angels’ ascent and descent towards the stairway to heaven. Jacob calls the experience “awesome” because he becomes aware of God’s presence in his life. Jacob awakens from his sleep state and embraces a new vision. Jacob sets out to live his life as a Jew.

The second dream (Genesis 33:23) is a wrestling match more than a dream Jacob is in a state of not knowing. Will his estranged twin brother, Esau overcome him with rage and physical destruction or will their relationship survive twenty years of silent enmity?

This “not knowing” produces fear and anxiety for Jacob. After taking his family across the river Jabbok, the following verse reads “Jacob was left alone.”(Genesis 32:25)

Jacob needed a separation of time and space. He engaged in a power struggle with a being that was both divine and human. During the encounter he is physically injured and spiritually altered. He pursues the God-like figure demanding that he call out his name and identity. God eludes him. Nevertheless, Jacob receives the blessing of renewed self confidence

“I have seen a divine face yet my life has been preserved” (Genesis 32:31)

The price for being in God’s presence and witnessing one’s own spiritual strength
is the metaphoric “unhinged hip”. Jacob is wounded. The limping serves as a reminder of his “striving” to know and to be known by God. Jacob learns what he did not know at the beginning of this encounter.

Divinity has no name and no face. Striving is the action that supports are life’s purpose. The stairway to heaven represents a climbing into the unknown journey we call faith. Our wounds preserve our souls when threatened.

Struggling with what is, is the spiritual nature of our own humble human aspirations.
When we enter into the river of “not knowing” we enter into God’s mystery. When we are threatened by an external or internal enemy, we must believe that our own spiritual resource center will emerge triumphant. To experience God face to face is to experience our own doubts, fears and anxieties and then to transcend them.

When I strive to be in God’s presence, I am already within reach of the Divine embrace.