Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shalom: Saying Good Bye and Hello

Tomorrow night I will join Jews all over the world as the sun sets to honor the ending of the year 5768 and begin to celebrate the birth of the world and the new year, 5769. I am so excited and ready. There has been much intensity in this last month of creativity and travel and I am ready to pause and notice the moment and be with my people.

It is a time of renewal of coming back to my true self, of forgiveness of myself and of others and of the opening of the Book of Life. We will chant this week on Rosh Hashonah and next week on Yom Kippur ' and who will die and who will live'. I take a deep breath thinking about these words as they remind me of how much I do not know, of how much I have influence on and how much I have to learn.

Letting go of the past and making room for the next moment is a dance I am learning. And when I have not let go of 'enuff' of this past then I will have the opportunity of seeing it again and again and again. And I laugh and know that I am not laughing alone with me.

5768 has been an extraordinary year of letting go and uncovering my heart. This blog has been a vessel for my shedding of the Klippot, the covering of my heart and soul so that I can be more authentic with myself and others and do my part in healing the world. This week's Torah portion translates that G!D is aware of the concealed places and is the uncoverer of the heart. So as I do my strip tease dance She is right there catching the veils and smiling at my courage to be me after all these years. And I am amazed that I have not given up even when I wanted to.

So the circle of life continues, as it is a circle to me, a spiral continuing to move outward and upward, embracing more and more love with each cycle, each threshold I cross over.

Blessings of the Vav: life is a cycle of hello's and good byes, on and on through eternity so why not join in choosing life since i have partner at each crossing.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Learning To Be Held in Elul

Elul, the last month of the Hebrew Wisdom calendar is an opportunity for transformation in returning to my true self. Mindy Ribner in Kabbalah Month by Month writes that it is a time to complete unfinished business, plan for the future, deepen a relationship with G!D and do all this with kindness.

Blessings of Mindfullness and Being Awake:
When Holly was 9 she asked her mom if I, one of her mom’s best friends, was gay. Knowing Holly’s close relationship with me her mom replied ‘why don’t you ask her yourself?’ Holly responded ‘ I do not want to hurt her feelings.’

What is it that this wise curious sensitive nine year old already knew?

When Kendall was in college and in the process of coming out as lesbian she asked me, her mom’s dear friend whom she knew was in relationship with a woman ‘what would you do if your daughter told you she was gay?’ I replied ‘I would be concerned because it would be a very hard life.’

Kendall went away angry and sad and confused and valuing the truth and wanting to prove me, her older friend, wrong.

What would I be without the thought that being lesbian is something I have to be careful with like a sharp knife or lit match? What kind of emotional damage am I protecting others from that I do not think also attacks me and leaves a legacy of fear of being one’s self with my daughters and their offspring?

In my several years of living a life of loving women I have had many opportunities to see the joys and gifts of being lesbian. And then there were situations where I reached out to someone I thought might be lesbian or gay to offer a helping hand and have frequently been told to mind my own business and that I was wrong!! Gay-dar gone wrong!

How long does it take to learn that whom you are is something not many want to be?

In my dissertation I wrote that the definition of lesbian I found in the literature is ‘affectional and or sexual relationships with women’. When I tell my women cousins and friends whom I am close with this citation some say ‘ not me’ others say well I guess I am lesbian. I can accept both responses and I feel a lot safer around women who admit that their love of women is that amazing and valid that they can give themselves an adjective that others might find repulsive.

I often wonder how long does it take to love my many colors and make that a priority over hate?

When I travel by air my daughter Ilana often blesses me that I should sit next to an angel. Yesterday my angel was a man from one of my daughter Andrea’s home town and a distant relative of her husband. He was a delightful flying partner sharing his life story and engaging with mine. I try to be aware of my stereotypes and yet am unconsciously incompetent many times. And there was something about the way my angel moved, his language and quick wit that made me think he was a gay man. And I was hoping for a real conversation.

And as the plane got closer to our destination I struggled for what seemed forever on how to approach the subject delicately I knew there were some gay men in my daughter’s husband’s family and I was hoping my angel was one of them. I cautiously asked if he had heard of Soulforce or Mel White one of its founders. Sounds familiar this polite Southerner responded and then asked what they were. I took a very deep breath praying for Divine intervention and said Mel White is the co-founder of this non violent Christian organization that supports gays and lesbians and without a beat he said his brother was gay, lived in San Fransisco with his partner and was active in Human Rights Campaign. I relaxed having passed through the gate and felt relieved. I also felt disappointed while continuing to engage him in conversations about family and gay issues. Then he told me he was divorced after 21 years of marriage to a wonderful woman and that many of his friends thought he was gay. He did not think so. I told him about my research on coming out and that others often know before we do. He said ‘he got that one’ as he had just decided to run for political office and when he told his friends they responded ‘ at last’ and ‘Great!’

Then I took my boldest move and said that I had only brought up the gay issue because I thought that perhaps he was gay. He laughed and said 'not right now' and I will think on it. I responded his knowing would come from his heart. He agreed. And I then told him the “Holly” story. He said he understood as some of his family members had to work at accepting his brother. As the plane landed and we walked off in different directions I watched as he headed toward his gate and I thought what a lovely sashay.

What happens when you dare to tell the truth and stand in awe and delight at being received?

After all these years of loving women and men, counseling lesbians and gay men, doing workshops on making the professional environment gay friendly, encouraging people to come out that maybe I am beginning to own and then to hold less tightly the thought that being different in loving women is not dangerous and that perhaps being out can bring me closer into relationships.

Perhaps I can act on the fact that in accepting my different-ness I can also become more consciously competent in accepting others' uniqueness. Oh, dear, what will I be when those judging thoughts only choke me for a little bit of time? LOL-laugh out loud-my grandsons would say!

Blessings of the Vav: Saying “Yes and” to life is following the Hebrew Wisdom of ‘choose life’ and trusting that there is something bigger than me making the world a better place. I have only to love and be me, authentic and not try to save the world as I already am. Hebrew wisdom also teaches that in saving one life you have saved the world!!! Halleluyah!!