Friday, November 18, 2011

For the Love of Life and Writing

It was a week of re-visioning and editing.

A short story, less than ten pages, possessed me.

In the still darkness of dawn, I sleepwalked toward my computer.

At dusk, I rushed into my apartment in search of my Beloved.

The flow of inspiration and perspiration pulsed through my writing and my life simultaneously.

I began the rewriting process with procrastinations and fears of inadequacy.

But once I became the process, everything moved in unexpected directions.

I discovered scandalous scenes and desperate dialogue that propelled me into a land only artists can experience.

Every day held the possibility of a fairytale or a mystery.

This passion for writing taught me a lesson about living.

Use your imagination to drive your actions.

Engage in an uncomfortable challenge without self-judgment.

Go back to knitting the story of your life one joyful stitch at a time.

Do it for the love of it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ten Hours in the Life of a Rabbi Without Borders

Twenty early morning souls relax into the padded cushions that line the basement of the Washington Center for Consciousness Studies. I place myself in the back right corner and lean back into the plump fabric-covered pillows.

My gaze catches the glow that emanates from the room’s interior cavity. A life-sized picture of the host couple’s Indian guru greets me. We engage. His eyes follow me like Michaelangelo’s Mona Lisa and encourage my contemplation.

The dharma is presented by a visiting Hindu teacher. He reflects on the life of his beloved guru, Bhagavan Nityananda, with stories, humor and pathos. He recalls and recites the miracles created by his spiritual mentor. His tales enhance our way of modeling a superior spiritual life.

“The spiritual,” he says, “is about connections and coincidences, the relationship to the One and the flow of the mysterious.”

The chanting occurs in Sanskrit. Several people sing along, while I relax into the rhythmic tones and nest my face into my white pashmina scarf. My breathing is nonexistent to myself. God takes my inhalation and sets my heartbeat into a peaceful pace.

In time, the chanting changes and completes its round. The dimmer radiates more light. The 90-minute meditation session ends with a smooth finish. No one speaks; everyone moves.

Ten hours later, I stand before the Shabbat candles in the corner hallway at the Chabad House in Herndon, Virginia. I hear and embrace the giggling sounds of my four grandchildren and the rabbi’s five children as they relay race down the corridors. I quiet my mind for reflection.

Amidst the joy, I linger in the entryway in front of the gold-framed picture of the Rebbe and a portrait of the late young Chabad rabbi, Levi Deitsch, who died of cancer the year before. The Rebbe, the late Chabad rabbi and the nameless guru follow me into the Friday evening prayers of Kabbalat Shabbat.

Rabbi Leibel Fajnland faces the Holy Ark. The echo of his continuous Hebrew davening wafts through the many rooms of this sparsely furnished one-story school and learning center.

I receive his concentric prayers and whisper the mantra of my silent evening Amidah by heart. I enter into dialogue with the God of my ancestors.

I soften my eyelids. I close my eyes. I see into the light of my early morning soul again.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Going with Growth

We strive towards Oneness.

The Oneness of the Universe and the Oneness that aligns our soul’s purpose with the reality of our present.

Our work is to model an inner strength and a connection to self which is ultimately a connection to all that is within.

When we focus on rebuilding self we set a new course for going with growth.