Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Living One Life; Being a Rabbi Who Loves Her Leadership Development Work.

Create Me a sanctuary and I will dwell there. Exodus, 25:8

When I am facilitating a small group usually I set an intention, a deep desire, before we begin. It helps me to remember why I came to work that day. The list includes to have fun, to laugh and to learn. Collaboration is my core value and gathering the wisdom of the group and not being the only expert are also my intentions. So after I write 'Welcome' and the above intentions on the board I have begun also drawing a circle in two parts with arrows facing the same direction; I label these arrows as 'giving' and 'receiving'. My hope is that the conversations between us will be rich and fruitful.

In Zami, African American essayist, poet and novelist Audre Lord 's autobiography (1934-1992) she describes herself as an only child who is like her mother and her father; she wants to enter and be entered. My first reading evoked sexual thoughts and feelings. As an only child I have have often wondered 'am I more akin to my mother or my father' and Lorde offered me the freedom to be like both. A teacher, Marc Gafni, used to say the sexual only models the erotic and is not the only the erotic. In Mystical Hebrew Wisdom a person is considered to have both male and female characteristics and simplistically said with the female as the receiver, the left side of the body, and the male as the giver, the right side of the body, and the potentiality of the two coming together is the ultimate connection in making the world a better place. Jung and other psychologists have agreed and Jung named the parts anima and animus.

Last night when my teacher Rabbi Miriam Shulamite Ribner taught on the female essence of G!D, Shekhinah, I felt my worlds coming together. In setting an intention for giving and receiving I am creating a vessel for the Divine Feminine to be in the midst of our conversation so that creativity, wisdom, and change will be linked bringing forth the sparks of new ideas and the potential of breaking old patterns.

A few weeks ago that is exactly what happened. I do not know if anyone in the group would have called it holy; I did and I knew it was different from what I had experienced in the past and very powerful. We became One as a group supporting each other, present in our conversations and uniquely distinctive in our way of being. Some say love is a process of both giving and receiving; perhaps that was what I was feeling, what I desire from the intention I set.

Blessing of the Vav; the potentiality to rise, to give, to receive and create a holy vessel of transformation all in one moment and to experience love. After all I heard from my heroes the Beatles 'that is all you need'.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Teach What You Need To Learn

In a coaching session last week where I was the client my coach intuitively reflected to me the phrase You are the One and you are the one. I have been trying to bring clarity to the primary focus for my work and do not want to give up on this gift of words. It holds a paradox and a truth that cannot be denied. And I ask myself are these the words of my soul's mission?

Whenever I am scared beyond any control I may have over my life I say 'Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echod'... Hear, Israel, the Creator of All Life, Your God, is One.' When I am dealing with the thoughts of competition or envy I usually remember the teaching of the Great Ari, mystical teacher of Kabbalah, who taught that there is not one moment in time like another and so each one of us is unique. I remember then that I have a choice whether to suffer or not. What if I believed and lived You are the One and you are the one when I was not afraid or in the middle of services three times a day praying it? What would my life be like, I wonder.

When a friend was coming back to the faith of her birth she would say the constructs over and over and although she said it felt awkward at first eventually she really believed that Jesus was her savior. Over the last few days I have been saying You are the One and you are the one over and over again getting to know it better and waiting for the internal 'YES!' to evolve. I am getting to know the words and am going deeper with the phrase and yet I am not there yet, not even in the knowing of where 'there' is.

This morning I remembered 'teach what you need to learn' and I laughed and said well of course if I want to really get to know this phrase I must speak it out loud, remember it when I am in a narrow place and when I am in joy and write about it until it is mine.

Identity seems to be a theme of people with my ilk; seeking who I am and what am I doing in the world to make it a better place. We seem to consistently forget until a reflection reminds us of the truth that we are doing good things in the world, we do have a unique gift to give and we are more alike and than different. What if each moment of consciousness reminded me of You are the One and you are the one? I am curious.

So two days after the 'hidden was revealed' on Purim on this Easter day when my neighbors are celebrating the resurrection of Christ I am sitting beside them in the universe honoring the coming of Spring, the opportunity to free myself from the constraints of separateness and to experience my at One-ment and the unique gifts we, me included, bring to the world. May we use them for good.

Blessing of the Vav: Life is dynamic and continuous and inclusive.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Blessing the Naked Soul

Today I did some internal work with a dear friend who loves me. How else could I stand there naked and not be modest. "Ayecha, Where are you?" G!D asks Adam and he replies with a history of the past. Well that was not the correct answer for it was only a story. We want the naked truth.

Where are you right now in real time; in your physical surroundings, what are you feeling, what are the thoughts roaming in the head and where are you in connection to your Divine Self?

In the work of Byron Katie you cannot escape the truth; you can only gently unpack through inquiry-asking the questions, slowly carefully stripping down and uncovering the truth at the very core of your being.... that is love.

The process reminds me of studying Torah and going deeper seeking the hidden beneath the surface words, going for the holy. When I first began studying the Bible I found it boring until I began looking at the characters as human beings who I could be in relationship with and in getting to know them I could get to know me.

In this month of Purim when the hidden is revealed and Esther's coming-out saves a nation and in the moon's changing face we move closer to the freedom of Passover I begin to notice my clearing out preparation for being re-birthed.

Blessing of the Vav: welcoming home all of yourself no matter what it looks like or how much you do not want to admit it belongs to you: the opportunity to get to know the soul's destiny while in relationship with every element of our life.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Growing the Tree Outside the Fence

Speeding down the road on Sunday my peripheral vision caught sight of a row of trees growing on the highway side of a very high fence set on a rise. The trees were equally spaced and appeared to be trimmed to perfection and the roots of the trees were proudly showing themselves creating a distinctive contrast to the earth and the fence. I thought ‘wow a tree growing outside a fence’. I kept repeating the phrase as I sped along yearning for slower traffic or that I was in the right hand lane and could stop to take a photo to remember the beauty I had seen and the thought that followed.

When I began coming back to Judaism Rabbi David Zeller, a mentor and friend and now of blessed memory, asked me what kind of rabbi do you want to be? I intuitively responded ‘one that takes down the fence around the Torah.’ I did not know what that meant or would look like. And I sensed that there was something of Judaism that was not being shared.

When I had this conversation I had just returned from traveling for a year around the world where I had exposed myself to many traditions and in reflection to these holy teachings I was beginning to see the richness of the tradition of my birth and wanted to share this joy. I was like the recovering addict who had found truth and now wanted everyone to be saved, too.

Several years later I am more articulate and I hope more kind to myself and more inclusive; I am committed to sharing Hebrew Wisdom with my world as a way of joining with other faiths in making the world a better place. As anything kept secret takes lots of energy to hold back. And when I read and hear about Christian values and Buddhist practice and Islamic teachings all in one place and the writers rarely invoke Hebrew Wisdom I am confused. I do not understand why. I only know I feel invisible. My ego will not let me rest in that place; my soul pushes me forward.

In Pirke Avot, Teachings of the Fathers, one of the books of the Talmud that is considered an Oral Torah or a rabbinic interpretation of the scriptures and how to interpret and apply the Law I have read ‘make a fence around the Torah’. A metaphor for the Torah is the Tree of Life.

A fence keeps out an unwanted element and protects what lays within. I often ask what is in my heart that needs protection and what is in Hebrew Wisdom that needs to be known? Will I care for what is taken out from the fence? Can I live a life where there is no hierarchy of wisdom and that we each have our own path to coming Home? And that sometimes that path is woven with elements from other places. The Society of the Vav says ‘yes' and please do it now.

Several years ago in a very intuitive moment I created the collage above. I now call it 'the tree growing outside the fence.'

Blessing of the Vav: taking a moment to have some fun in noticing with the innocence of a non-judging mind your relationship with your fence; what does your fence look like, where does it exist, what does it protect, who does it let in or keep out, and what do you want to learn?

Monday, March 10, 2008

The American Legacy Inclusive® Dictionary Denounces 'But'

With Perry Como singing in the background the old favorite ‘More' by Alex Alstone and lyrics by Tom Glazer, the President of the Board of The American Legacy Inclusive ® Dictionary made a statement to the press today that the word 'but' would be removed from its latest edition. With pressures arising from peace activists, liberal Democrats and universalistic groups their spokesperson said they had no other choice.
A recent poll of popular culture and Generation X found that 'but' was used less than 'and' as the conjunction of choice and therefore the publishers were swayed to support their core American values found in the poem by Emma Lazarus: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me free’: no one will be left out. Despite the fact that distribution of incomes which show that incomes are less evenly distributed than they were 20 or 30 years ago America is still viewed as the land of opportunity. The board wants to begin changing the way we talk so that we can change the way we think. They believe, with encouragement from Harvard based developmental researchers that if we keep placing ‘but’ after each statement of fact we are creating barriers to our forward motion and maintaining America’s leading edge in the free world. ‘We are victims of our mind that keep us small. We are ignoring our dreams and possibilities.’ The board concurs that in order to create change in the world ‘but’ has to be deleted and replaced in each sentence so that we can rise to a higher standard of problem solving. As Einstein once stated we must use paradoxical thinking, we cannot solve our problems at the level where they are created.

Quoting William James pioneering American psychologist and philosopher whose core values of 'more, more, more! is the only way to go” as told to this reporter by the infamous HS Bar Levin. Also in a recent sermon the Pope supported that 'the heart of his God can hold an infinite amount of love there are no buts about this' he assured his listeners.

The board was met with some opposition by those who wrote multiple page theses that supported the impossibility of cleaning up all the 'buts'. Yet The American Legacy Inclusive ® Dictionary board remained firm in their conviction that if language was going to change the world then must be at the forefront of such change. 'But' is Out is a campaign for the American Legacy Inclusive® Dictionary across all 50 states. Surprisingly Japan, France and Syria each have written letters as well as Israel supporting this decision that has shattered Strunk and Whyte to the core. S & W believes that all conjunctions are necessary to give people options. Using the Hebrew alphabet for support by referencing the sixth letter Vav the American Legacy Inclusive® Dictionary is assured that 'and' will save the world.

For reference we included this information about the word ‘but’, conjunction and preposition.

1. Indicating contrast; however, on the other hand, in contrast, nevertheless, still, yet, though, on the contrary, but then, but as you see; see also although.
2. Indicating an exception; except, save, disregarding, without, not including, not taking into account, let alone, leaving out of consideration, aside from, with the exception of, not to mention, passing over, barring, setting aside, forgetting, omitting (to mention); see also except.
3. Indicating a limitation; only, only just, merely, simply, barely, solely, purely, just, no more, exactly, no other than, without.

Epilogue: Most of the above is true and the rest is pure fantasy by the author. The Society of the Vav is encouraging the board of directors of American Legacy Inclusive Dictionary to reconsider their decision since whether we like 'but' or not it is a force to be acknowledged.

Blessing of the Vav: beginning to notice with humor when you use the word 'but', when you judge the other and do not want them in your life, and when you let your imagination fly free from any encumbants and experience the joy of freedom.