Friday, December 27, 2013

Leaning Into My Body Tower

Balancing my life has been a lifelong project of trial and error.

When my trainer asked me to stand up straight and cross one leg over the other, my body positioned itself like the leaning tower of Pisa.

"I can’t find my balance," I said.

"Yes, you can," he said, "but you need to use your core to recapture your balance. Think core. Shift and re-balance."

When the Tower of Pisa was being constructed, its foundation was inadequate because the ground was too soft on one side to properly support the structure’s weight. The tilt increased until the structure was stabilized.

When you find yourself shifting out of balance, think core values, recalculate your priorities, make sure you are on firm ground before you start rebuilding your life’s structure.

Friday, December 20, 2013

New Year's Reverie

Another year and this voyage has come to a halt.

No seismic changes. More of the same with a twist of lime, bittersweet.

What was unknown has become self-evident.

The insights I received are now recognizable as wisdom tweets.

Another year begins to scroll while I remain resilient still.

What is on my mind as I welcome this New Year 2014?

Not the miracles of yesterday, but the hopes for tomorrow. Not the boundaries of the past, but the unlimited offerings of my service in the present.

Another year and my voyage begins again.

Friday, December 13, 2013

As the Dark Nights Arrive

As the dark nights surround me, I succumb into its bear hug embrace.

In a soft, yellow robe of royalty, I prepare myself for the winter hibernation.

I look at my bookshelf filled with unread books and a longing to devour every poignant paragraph.

I gather the family pictures on the floor, ready to rearrange them on my hallway wall.

I take out my journal, and I begin to write without form or deadline.

As the dark nights arrive, I welcome their luminosity and pray for deep and exquisite clarity.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Flames and Wicks

The sages compare the flames of the Chanukah candles to Torah study (knowledge) and the wicks of the Chanukah candles to the mitzvot (action).

Theoretical knowledge (the flames) that fails to change the way we live is both empty and meaningless. What we learn must attach itself to something tangible (the wicks).

Every Chanukah we light candles and retell this history. Then, we rededicate ourselves to religious tolerance.

For centuries we have taken this knowledge (our Torah) and transformed into an act of righteousness and right actions (mitzvot).

This is the miracle that keeps on making Chanukah real and tangible.

Friday, November 15, 2013

River Rock

Tossed into the stream of life, I remain securely fastened to the earth below me.

I am like a river rock.

There are rainstorms and thunderstorms; above ground turbulences shake the roots of my rough stony paths.

Still, I remain a river rock.

The psalmist exclaims that God is a Rock for All Ages. I want to wrap around my world with that constant, concentrated and consecrated faith.

I am becoming a river rock.

I deliberately swim into my life’s source ignoring the instability of the atmosphere’s changes.

In faith and in folly, I am the rock that rivers roll over and over again.

Rock my rivers and return me to my routes.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I Was Asleep and Awake

"I was asleep but my heart stayed awake . . . until I heard the sound of my lover knocking.” -Song of Songs 5:2

In some ways we are all sleepwalking through various realms of consciousness. Throughout the day and night, we transition from states of awareness and consciousness to states of total incognizance.

We can be sound asleep and yet present to our dreams.

Is the opposite also true? Can we appear wide awake and yet remain dormant to our daily desires?

Ideally, we strive to remain intimately connected with the One, while stitching together the intricacies and activities of our everyday aliveness.

If we can practice holding both the intimate and the mundane, the insights of our dreams and the interactions of our waking hours, with pure intention, our path will be shaped by a wellspring of wisdom and clarity.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Lost in Memory

Side-by-side they sit, the memories of my life. They know each other well, but they pretend that they don’t. They represent a shared fantasy, but they prefer to sit on the sidelines, each in a separate corner, each in a different costume.

There is a string that ties these memories together. When I take time to review these flashbacks, I am conscious of the thousand-and-one threads that bind them to each other. With what shall I sew these synapses? Will my recollections be beneficial?

The answers are coming with every newly classified thought. I am again lost in memory, and it feels good.

Friday, October 25, 2013

God and I Together in the Morning

In the morning, Jews recite a prayer of thanksgiving.

Modeh Ani . . .

I thank you, God, for returning my soul to me. She has been resting safely throughout the night in Your full embrace and protection.

Modeh Ani . . .

As the sun rises, manage your mission. Articulate your purpose amidst the babbling brainstorming of our daylight mindfulness.

Modeh Ani . . .

Thank you, Holy One, for restoring my soul and my significance.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Spontaneous Blessing

Blessing is not a perfunctory act.

A blessing contains a premeditated, directed intention of significance and power unique to the blessed one.

Most often I am the blesser. I initiate this act of validation and confirmation with caution and caring. People expect it from their clergy.

So I was super surprised when a petite, dark-haired woman shuttled me under my friend’s wedding chuppahand dictated a blessing from the place of desire.

Her whole body swayed into mine as she cupped her hands over my head.  In fluent Hebrew she unhesitatingly offered up a prayer of God’s protection and guidance over me.

I felt it in my body. It landed on my heart. I immersed my soul in its sincerity.

Blessing is not a perfunctory act, but it can be most beautiful when it arrives spontaneously.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Birth of a Granddaughter

She is my ninth grandchild and my sixth granddaughter.

In labor and in transition, through pushing and sighing, with vigor and verve, my third amazing daughter birthed her second daughter into being with all the strength of a mother tiger.

Surrounded by a flock of female nurses, doctors, midwives, and doulas, a red tent of protection and love draped the mother and daughter like the wedding chuppah hovering above the bride and groom.

The child revealed herself suddenly and spontaneously. I loved her instantly upon arrival.

I knew this newborn girl spiritually before she would come to know my role in her life.

I was humbled before the divine beauty of yet another singular image of God’s artistry.

Her father called out her name into the consecrated space that she prepared for us.
"We will call her Shoshana (lily/rose) Raya (beloved friend and dear companion)."

Like a lily among the thorns, so is my beloved among the daughters [and granddaughters]. -Song of Songs

Friday, September 13, 2013

Say the Sin Aloud

The Hasidim teach that doing good deeds make a difference in our lives and in the greater human world. The same is true when we do something unjust, unworthy, and unethical.

The act of repentance is not mere contrition of the heart. It goes deeper and speaks louder.

A famous Maggid taught that one can use language to penetrate our misgivings and our missteps. The same life force that made us commit the misdeed can bring us to breaking the silence and breaking open our hearts.

On Yom Kippur, the Vidui, the confessional, lists the many possibilities where human beings go astray. We need to speak each letter of our transgression as we make our plea for forgiveness.
Reciting and repeating each word aloud allows the letters to reform themselves into new realities.

This Yom Kippur may your letters fly upwards encouraged by your deep devotion through weeping and wailing, through loving and living.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

You Can Return

Throughout the ten Days of Awe, imagine returning to the person you want most to be.

Decide that no matter what has happened last year, you are able to be your true authentic self.

No hiding, no contradictions, no self-imposed hermitage. No pessimism. No judgments.

Anyone can start anew. Anyone can dip an apple into honey and taste the sweetness of a new relationship, a new work project, a new attitude.

The promise of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur calls us to optimism and hope, acceptance and clarity of purpose.

I begin this year with the power of study and the joys of learning in community.

Friday, August 16, 2013

We Are What We Pray

We are what we pray, said the guru.

So I thought about this for several minutes.

Don’t we all pray for the same things?

Peace. Healing. Prosperity. Love.

Are we not messengers of peace, healing, prosperity and love?

Often, I pray for more patience, more compassion, more wisdom.

Can I become what I pray for?

If we are what we pray, then, let me focus on my prayer as I focus on my inner being.

What we pray attention to will be lifted up.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bittersweet Homecoming

For me, coming home is always bittersweet.

Whether I am away for a weekend or a few months, my travel creates a new picture portfolio so that when I return, my physical home feels different.

I came home on Tuesday to the familiar and busy streets of Dupont Circle and to the quiet coffee shop on the corner where they pipe in classical music and where I sit for hours undisturbed.

I came home to watch my next door neighbors and their adorable two-year-old daughter pack up all their belongings for an assignment in Tokyo. The cardboard boxes clogged up the hallway and my heart. Their proximity gave me comfort and morning friendship. I will miss their daily presence.

Paul, the all-weather postman, is retiring his letter bag after 45 years. He was my postman.

He knew who I was when he neatly and joyfully placed my magazines and bills into my small rectangular mailbox in the lobby. Who will serve me as well as he did?

Tomorrow they will put in new windows in my apartment so we can be more protected from the wind and the rains and even an intermittent hurricane.

Will I see better from the inside? Will my vision of home gain more clarity?

What will change? What will be different? What will remain the same?

How will I manage all these losses and transitions?


Friday, August 2, 2013

Is Your Heart Open Enough?

Like a charm bracelet fastened to my wrist, I carry in my heart all the people who have loved me unconditionally. My heart expands with every friendship I create and with every community that welcomes me.

Still, I wonder if my heart is spacious enough to receive these quiet blessings.

Still, I wonder if my heart is elastic enough to form this outstretched chamber.

In spite of my doubts, I continue to add new friends and communities to my registry.

I trust my heart will open more than enough and more often than not.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Brevity of Bravery

I decided to be brave today despite my timidity. I had choices to make: to feel defeated and dejected, or to act boldly and with greater confidence.

I decided to fake the fear factor and dare right into my diffidence.

A new definition of bravery might be to figure out how to face our daily life with all our inadequacies. To be brave means to take great care to live our lives as honestly as we can and with as much joy as we can. The challenges will remain, and the facts on the ground are immutable.

Today I decided to be brave no matter the obstacles. It took a moment to decide.

Maybe that is what bravery demands . . . brevity!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Upside Down Magic

Sometimes it seems that nothing new is really happening in my life.

After much effort, I created a secure and stable existence for myself. Some say I have achieved maturity. However, after much solidifying, I begin to become too complacent. So I engage in a frivolous mental shake up. I craft an imaginary adventure. I imbue my daily activities with an element of surprise. I talk to strangers, and I visit old haunts in an effort to compose a life of whirlwind wireless winding wonders.

Sometimes when it seems that nothing new is really happening in my life, I reach for the upside down apple cake pan and make magic. Watch me!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sadness on Shabbat

I never expected him to die on Shabbat, the quiet day of the week when no grief or anxieties should be present. Shabbat is called a “delight” except when something terrible happens and then it is no longer delightful . . . like the death of my cousin Leon.

Leon’s death, although imminent, seemed so distant and removed from my peaceful Shabbat in New Hampshire. A call from my daughter awakened me to the reality that no matter how I calculated the drive to New Jersey, I was not going to make it to the funeral the very next day.

I missed the final goodbye and the ritual send-off to a person I cared about.

One spends a lifetime together (four plus decades!) laughing and talking and celebrating and weeping until there is no more time, just a final goodbye.

While the burial was happening, I stopped my activity to pay respect to my good-natured cousin and his light-hearted demeanor. I envisioned our large, extended family surrounding his grave at the familiar ancestral cemetery where I have been a frequent visitor since I was a child. My grandfather Abraham was the first to pass on.

I inclined my ear to hear the voice of the rabbi chanting the final Hebrew prayers while the lowering of the casket disturbed the hearts of the newly grief-stricken. The kaddish mantra from Leon’s three grown sons and the softer voice of his beloved wife shattered my still-life picture.

I missed his funeral and I missed grieving with everyone. I would miss my cousin who delighted in everything and everyone. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Daily Quest

Everyday is a vision quest for your soul. Every choice we make sets our footsteps in a dedicated direction. When you are questing and questioning, is stillness the only way to get to the purpose of your existence? Or can it come through a conversation, a prayer, a song, or an unexpected experience? All of the above can offer a glimpse into tomorrow’s mystery. Quest towards the answer.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Teacher's Restoration

Two decades ago, I prepared four boys for their bar mitzvah on Bainbridge Island in the Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest.

I was an inexperienced, recently-ordained rabbi whose idealism propelled me to instill a love of Hebrew and Judaism to these adolescent young men.

I secured myself with optimism, pedagogy, and perseverance, and still I completed each fifty minute class with a feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt. Could I make a difference that would last beyond the bar mitzvah speech?

This week, on the second day of a workshop on Modern Israel, I sat next to a nicely dressed young man who worked as a research assistant at Emory University. I noticed his name tag.

"Daniel, did you ever live on Bainbridge Island?"

"Yes," he replied.

"I guess you don’t recognize me. I was your bar mitzvah teacher."

The entire table stopped its chatter and reacted to this revelation.

He pulled up his Facebook page on his iPhone and proudly showed off his twelve-year-old self's extended Afro hairdo.

"Yes, that is the you I remember."

We passed around the phone and with each giggle, the table participants gave me the enduring understanding look.

Daniel has a Master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies. He speaks Hebrew and Arabic. He is thinking about getting his Ph.D. He is employed full-time and teaches students about Jewish identity.

Two decades and a primary source Facebook photo later, my faith in the bar mitzvah process has been restored retroactively.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Trauma of Waiting

The yogurt store in the Taco Hills strip mall in Atlanta is fondly called "Menches."

It was there that I waited for my daughter to come and pick me up.

We had made the plan earlier in the day, but now, at 7:30 in the evening, a brave rainstorm with howling winds abruptly changed the calm into a torrent of disasters.

Perhaps she hadn’t left her home yet.
Perhaps she took cover under a bridge.
Perhaps she will be late and that will be okay.
Perhaps something or nothing happened.

The chocolate, cold, yummy yogurt tingled my tongue, and I took notice.

Should I call or text her? I did neither.

A short and sincere prayer would give me comfort. I whispered it. I refused to look at the time. Time did not matter. I watched the glass door open, bringing unfamiliar drenched people into our contained space.

I choked on my chocolate, cold, yummy yogurt.

I waited until . . .

I saw her purple raincoat precede her.
She was safe but shaken.
I ceased my ruminations.
I breathed myself into serenity.

The tornado had touched down and was gone.

The trauma, however, stays long after the rainbow appears.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Preach From Your Struggle

"Preach from your own struggle," said the Baptist minister whom I overheard talking to his colleague outside the School of Theology at Mercer University.

"The Exodus story may not be relevant to the American Indians, and we must recognize the differences in their struggle."

How often do we hear a wisdom note from a stranger as we are passing through the proverbial doorway?

My eleven-year-old granddaughter is taking creative writing during her summer break on the first floor of the School of Theology building.

I know the Exodus story. I am part of the history of that struggle through lineage. But what has been my personal struggle?

"Preach from your own struggle."

I will remember this message when I create my next teaching on the Exodus and beyond.

Friday, June 7, 2013

In Defense of Friendship

She called to say she was having surgery next week. Would I say a prayer for her? Would I come visit? I did not hesitate to comply with her wishes.

We have been friends for over a decade, but what I remember most was her kindness towards me eight years ago. I had been emotionally distraught after charging my next-door, six-foot-two neighbor with assault. I had secured a restraining order, and my court date was imminent.

My friend insisted that she come to the courthouse with me and serve as my attorney.

"But, Risa," I quipped. "You are not an attorney."

"Ah, but I have a briefcase."

The judge accepted Risa’s non-credentials because of her determination to defend me. And defend me she did! The judge ruled against my neighbor and continued the restraining order until three months later, when my neighbor and his wife left our condominium complex unceremoniously.

When I walked into Risa’s room, she smiled, pressing her pain-relieving button.

She admitted her discomfort, but as she spoke her face and body softened beneath my watchful gaze.

Three doctors walked in to explain the surgery’s results and procedures.

I listened and wondered how I was going to defend my friend from further physical and emotional harm. I offered her a sip of water while chanting a prayer for the recovery of her body and spirit. I clicked the pain-relieving button for her so she wouldn’t have to use her energy to do it herself. We blessed each other. We defended our friendship with words of endearment.

Friday, May 31, 2013

A Weekly Intake

As I review my life’s week, I look for the moments and the people who inspired me, moved me, perplexed me, or required my full attention.

Did someone new appear as I traveled along my familiar path who caused me to reevaluate a deep desire or an uncommon thought?

Did I laugh with friends or cry with someone broken-hearted? Did I offer my service without asking for anything in return? Did I smile when I could have frowned? Did I talk to a stranger who looked confused? Did I go out of my comfort zone and still feel comfortable?

At night, did you forgive yourself and one other person for something you did or said that that clogged your soul?

As I review my life’s work, I am at peace if I did all of the above. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Chuppah at Sinai

He stood in the doorway observing the commotion of our consonantal climbing.

It was the evening of Shavuot, the remembrance of the Torah revelation at Mt. Sinai. There the covenant was conceived and sealed between God and the myriad of recently freed Hebrew slaves.

Thirty men and women circled and chanted with each other for six hours at the Philadelphia home of our dear rabbinic friends, Phyllis Berman and Arthur Waskow. Our priestess, Rabbi Shefa Gold, devised a betrothal ritual with chuppah, sefer Torah and tallit. We chose a chant that signaled future intentions. Each person stood under the chuppah with our four chosen chuppah holders, singing out loud, in unison, again and again as we inscribed our new desires into our consciousness.

He stood in the doorway observing the final chant with respect and awe.
The chanting subsided at two in the morning and signaled a silence not unlike the silence that descended as Moses had alighted from the mountain carefully carrying the carved commandments. According to the Midrash, no birds chipped, no wind rustled, no sound was audible.

Still, he stood in the doorway, succumbed to the sacred scene.

My head turned, our eyes met and we both knew that we had met before at the foot of Mt. Sinai while awaiting and receiving words of Torah. Here we were again at the precipice of something revelatory. What would it be this time?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Pleasure as Priority

Daily priorities can interfere with our life’s passions and pleasures.

How often have I said “no” to an enjoyable meeting or concert because I told myself that I didn’t have time to “waste"?

Friends come in from out of town, and I hardly have a time slot open: I have booked my
calendar to a frenzy!

What is that all about?

The rushing around is an addiction that harms the spirit. Breathe between your activities and
carve out a holy timeslot for the passions and the pleasures of your life. Then there will be no more missing out on the pleasant priorities of life itself.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Unquenchable Questions

Whenever I have a problem that I need to solve, I give myself the freedom to be with the questions and to hold on to the ambiguities and the inconsistencies that surround my dilemma.  

I begin with questions and continue with more questions until I have exhausted my own curiosity.

Through the questions, an answer rises to my consciousness.

How can it be? How can it not be?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Living Into Your Synchro-Destiny

When we open ourselves up to the world of coincidences, which are really not coincidences, we can move towards a myriad of possibilities in our lives.

Coincidences are clues from the universe that may illuminate our true destiny.

They happen all the time, but are we aware of them or are we afraid of them?

Can we learn to be more in “sync” with our own destiny?

During the week, catch yourself watching the coincidences in your life pass you by.

The puzzle will be revealed as you open yourself to the questions.

Look for all the improbable meetings, encounters, situations, circumstances and ask yourself. Why did this happen? What is the meaning behind this “coincidence"?

Share them with me. I could be the conduit for your new found synchro-destiny. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Composition of Your Own Making

Writing a composition is an art.

Write neatly between the lines.
Remember to capitalize.
Punctuate using the elements of grammar.
Be concise. No redundancies.
Be clear and have a thesis.
Pick the proper prepositions.
Stop when you complete the thought.
Don’t linger. Move on to the next composition.

Composing your life is an art where you are both artist and masterpiece.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Life's Grateful Mistakes

When one of her students made a math mistake in the classroom, my friend, a former elementary school teacher would gently say to the embarrassed child:

Thank you for making the mistake so that others can learn from it.

She would then explain how to tackle the problem and correct it so that the next time her students would be able to solve the math puzzle on their own.

What a life lesson!

So often we need to be our own teachers and gently say to ourselves:

Thank you for making the mistake so that I may learn from it.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Cemetery in Common

Three years ago, my college friend Rachel and I made a discovery! Our late beloved parents are buried in the Cedar Park/Beth El Cemetery in Paramus, New Jersey.

Rachel grew up in Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, and I grew up in the Bronx. During their lifetimes, our parents resided in different neighborhoods, but they were cut from the same Jewish cloth. Both came from Poland. Both spoke mainly Yiddish. Both carried immigrant baggage. Both had two daughters. Both were humble and faithful to the Blessed One, Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

After a fifteen-minute car ride from Rachel’s house in Teaneck, New Jersey, we entered the gates of memory.

I stood next to Rachel and encouraged her to read aloud from the wooden-framed poem she had written many years before her father’s death. Her voice and tempo assured the sincerity of this premiere recitation at graveside.

The Cane by Rachel Schulman

It stands between us
cold scepter demanding attention
shining with flawless glow
old man's obdurate gavel
Erect as you bend before it
A testimony to time and change


We glance at it and look away
sheepish smile on both our faces
Knowing that something new has entered our relationship
the once infinite demanding to be addressed
and my love for you expressed
faster than I would have done before

as we both pay silent obeisance

Rachel and I bowed in silent obeisance before the passing images of our four parents. With this poem and in this setting, our friendship reached a higher rung. It appeared that we had more in common than we had just yesterday.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Perhaps Today

Perhaps today I will realize a long forgotten dream.

Perhaps today my routine will be shattered by a stranger’s need, or an unexpected phone call, or a refreshing pause in an otherwise busy day.

Perhaps today I will look up instead of down and in that moment I will see the same thing from a greater perspective, and something indescribable will change inside of me.

Perhaps today, I will look for that silver lining in my life and experience the truth of it all.

Perhaps today, you will join me on this quest for a grateful life.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cardboard Box Memories

He came bearing gifts of papers, pictures, and the poignant painted past.

The five of us sat around him while he unearthed each box and dismantled the treasures of six plus decades.

"This book belongs to you. The dedication says so."

"Who wants this picture that Aunt Anne painted three decades ago? My mother hung it in her living room."

"Ah, yes. Your bar mitzvah book. Save it for your children."

"What should I do with this prayer shawl (tallit) that my late father-in-law gave to me?"

It was the night before the Passover seder, and my former husband had arrived with four large cardboard boxes packed with tangible memories. He was moving out of his two-story house where he had been accumulating and protecting his family’s belongings. It was time to downsize and let go.

Our four children, their spouses, and their nine children had come together to celebrate another fabulous family seder. This night, the night before the cooking preparations would begin, was set aside to unravel the bubble wrappings of our past.

After two hours, each child had their own cardboard box filled with books from their childhood, pictures from their youth, a few choice letters and journals from high school and college.

My box was less full: One small book, The Ethics of the Fathers, that I had left behind after the divorce; a two-page story I had written about my son’s birth; and the tallit my late father had bought for his new son-in-law to wear under the wedding chuppah, a traditional gift.

We laughed. We reminisced. We jogged each other’s memories. We jostled over a few family jewels. (Another Aunt Molly pastel painting!) We transitioned yet again into a new Passover where memories could be shared and tossed and scattered from generation to generation. The truth of our tribal journey was inescapably bound up with our past, present, and future artifacts.

Just as we continue to look for that elusive "afikomen," we continue to look for ourselves in the history we create with every Passover seder. This year was not any different from last year.

We were a family making memories for a future keepsake. We never overlooked a memory that we couldn’t wrap up in a cardboard box of love.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Already Liberated

Liberating myself from the worries of my mind happens every Shabbat. I give myself permission to dream again. To be still again and to remember who I really am and who I really want to be. I may never reach the existential promised land, but I can always reach a modicum of joy and contentment.

As we anticipate the Passover seders next week, ask yourself this question or present it to your seder communities:

What would liberation look like if it was already here for you?

Please share your answers by emailing me with a poem, a comment, a story, or a vision.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Arriving at Your Destination

Is it possible to arrive at a destination and not know it? Is it possible to go beyond your intended destination and accept the beauty of the new geography?

You have arrived at your destination on the right . . . or is it on your left? Or doesn’t it matter?

What matters most is the feeling of accomplishment you receive from getting there and then being there and then savoring the next moment.

When you arrive at any destination, planned or unplanned, remember to give thanks and gratitude for journey’s sake.

Friday, March 8, 2013



Waiting for something wonderful is like waiting for the coffee to brew in the morning.
Or a baby to be born.
Or a trip to unfold.
Or a love to develop.

Waiting for something wonderful is like waiting for that God moment that catches you by surprise and envelops you completely.

Waiting is something I know how to do.

Anticipation is something I enjoy waiting for.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Humbled by God and Man

"If religion is to bring light to our broken world, we need, as Mencius suggested, to go in search of the lost heart, the spirit of compassion that lies at the core of all our traditions." -Karen Armstrong

I met a man the other day who only wanted to talk about the God that he had pushed aside when he discovered the lure of scientific data and the truth that lay behind his experiments of a lifetime.

I wasn’t in the mood to defend God or my concept of God as the Source and Substance of All Reality. I wasn’t going to initiate the selling of any God yet again. I, too, had conducted my own experiments during my lifetime. Sharing them at this time was not an option for me.

Instead, I noticed how a sadness settled over my heart and my chatter ceased.

My God was always Compassionate, Merciful, Thoughtful, Encouraging, Ineffable.

His God was angry and vengeful and thoughtless.

I looked through him to the boy who had lost his faith in frustration and fury.

I would have defended my definition of God, but I feared his rejection and his mockery. But, most of all, I feared that I would be misunderstood.

To begin to learn about God, one must begin from not knowing. From the dark places of the soul that await the light places within the heart. From alienation and abandonment through to brokenness and bereavement. This place of deepest dread brings one to a humbling experience that alone leads to healing and awakening.

I had spent my life drawing myself away from the separateness that I feel for the other. The call to lead a religious and spiritual life compells me to overcome this attitude. We are all part of God, and God is inside each of us.

I surrendered my need to "teach" and "to instruct" this man who only wanted to talk about the God that he had pushed away so early in his life. Somehow, my presence in his life would have to suffice. My speech ultimately would have been insufficient.