Monday, January 25, 2010

Afflicting the Comfortable

Blessings of Being Awake: I laugh with myself
as I think 'i am a sign watcher', like the main character in The Alchemist. When I hear a phrase more than once in different contexts or I see a pattern of information coming my way i think 'oh, i need to pay attention, this is for me.'

Since my mother died and my daughters and i emptied her home i have taken on the task of simplifying my life and my home. I have been digging through the boxes hidden in the back of the closet, reviewing my life through the things I have held onto and now I no longer think i need as a reminder of an amazing life. When I came across my ordination certificate, I stopped and read it. The wording is clear and powerful and reminds me of my charge. And 'comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable' had been sitting quietly in my mind.

And then, yesterday when I was listening to Jay Michaelson speak on spirituality I heard him say the same phrase. For me these twice repeated phrases were in alignment with my visceral awareness and the connected thoughts that say, ' it is time to go deeper and push the edges of your comfort zone.' Naturally as I put this all together I want to know what it means and where wi am to practice this afflicting. I want to imagine what I cannot imagine so that I can be the captain of my ship and director of my home movie. And, deep breath, I have no idea what this afflicting will look like or where it will happen.

Spiritual Challenges: Last week's Torah portion involves the continuing saga of the dueling dialogue between Pharaoh and his hardened heart and Moshe and his un-cirmcumcised lips. At one point Pharaoh said 'go, but only take certain people.' Moshe counters with, 'no, as i will not know how i am to serve G!D until i get there'. This phrase has been so helpful to me. It helps me notice when the mind is plotting away and to stop planning and practicing before it is my turn to speak. It reminds me to listen and sp in the moment. And when I remember that I truly know nothing, i know this is a moment to support my desire to strengthen the mind to stay Here. I do not need to plan for the future that I think i can not only predict but also plan for. As Here is the only place I have any control over. My mother's tragic death and her nearing 92nd birthday are vivid reminders of that truth.

Spiritual Practice: So again I am sitting with the Kavannah, the deep intention of my heart, to learn and then practice how to afflict the comfortable; to go deeper and to not let being politically correct keep me from deeper conversations and to be transparent and to be honest. To help me have what i want, an open heart that includes me. I only have to love me as if i were my own lover, i do not have to take care of people who can take care of themselves.
Blessings of the Vav: I can continue to open my heart to include me, to notice the fear and work with it, not run from it and to notice that under the fear is a tender heart that only wants connection to herself, to others and her Divine nature.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

And Eventually You Become The Matriarch

Photo caption: three cousins, Richie, Vivie, Jerry; 1948, at Lewis Lake, Winthrop, MA
Blessings of Being Awake: On November 11, 2009, at about 6:15 in the evening, I became the head of my family, consisting presently of two daughters, their husbands and four grandchildren. This was not my decision, like becoming a parent or taking on couple responsibilities when I got married. On the day my mother quite unexpectedly died, I became an orphan, there is no one beside me or behind me to be the final decision, the holder together. I am it! And I am not even sure what 'it' is although I may have seen it from a distance. I was not prepared for this new role even though I did on one occasion try to imagine what it would be like when it did happen. I could not!
Spiritual Challenge: I feel like I am out in space without my space suit, untethered looking down on earth and hoping it stays very far away! Am I ready for this role and how it is different than before, as single mom without a partner. How will my relationship with my family change or will it? I wonder how the Godfather felt when it was his turn to take over. I am excited about wearing the purple robes of royalty. And I have lots of questions. One thing I will remember is to stay in touch, keep them up with my plans and learn a lot! That is my challenge as a fiercely independent, hippie, only child, woman of the world.
Spiritual Practice: When my Mom was alive she covered for me. I could travel, miss calls, never get to calls and without knowing she filled in. She had a relationship with my daughters i will never have, as each couple has its own energy. Moses is quoted as responding to Pharaoh when he said 'go and leave the women' , 'no, 'we must all go together, as we will not know how to serve G!D until we get there. ' So why worry about the future, Phyllis reminded me today, what Meher Baba taught, don't worry, be happy. May be that is what this Matriarch will do, since I am sure this death that laid this role in my hands was not my idea and was in the plans and I am ready to take it on!
Blessings of Agudat HaVav: blessings of being a member of the Society of the Vav, vav-nik. At the top of most columns in the Torah there is a vav at the beginning of the word. The sages tell us that this means the story is on going, we only stop to take a breath before we go on. So for a while, as I move through the grief, I will remember to breathe, as I cross this threshold and enter my new role. I am sure that my ancestors, the Evrites, the boundary crossers, knew how to stop and breathe and remember to be grateful that they were never alone. And I am royally receiving the energy of my ancestors in my new role.

Monday, January 11, 2010

If Doing is Being, What is Receiving?

Picture title: How long does it take to see that the bush that is burning is not being consumed?
Blessings of Being Awake: Ana's call this morning reminded me again that I needed to just be receiving and healing. Her words sound true and echo the same words a friend gave me last week, you only have to receive. At that point I drew my third drawing expressing my grief; a picture of a huge heart filled with grey color and little red hearts floating in and out and around her and some even touched her edges. As I drew the hearts that touched my heart, I viscerally felt the tenderness and soothing nature and I wanted more. Yet, I am not practiced and I am awkward. at ministering to only me.
Spiritual Challenge: I want to move on and I feel stuck in this bedlam space and I need to stay here and learn how to care for me, the one who has set an intention of creating more art space and less intellectual space. I need to listen to my heart and words of intention and to walk with the great fear into supporting me in my dreams previously set aside for the universal fears of success.
Spiritual Practice: Today Roberta and I will just clean up my office so I can walk around the past and potential creativity that now looks like boxes and books. I will say good-bye to all that I have held onto that made me feel safe, protected and gave me an identity. Oy Vay!!!
Blessings of Being a proud member of The Society of the Vav: To walk the talk of being a Vav I need to stand tall, open hearted, strong back, being all of who I am am and in the present moment be inspired to follow my heart that can only be heard in the stillness of silence, as Ezekiel reminds me.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Competing Committment

Blessings of Being Awake: Yesterday, Cousin Arnie called to wish me a Happy New Year and to get caught up on each others' lives and our family's history. We were talking about our personal challenges this year and how even when we want change, we often run into distractions that take us off our path. Since we are both in the the business of making the world a better place I mentioned a favorite leadership development book, How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work by Kegan and Lahey. The authors call the underlying cause of the distraction 'a competing commitment.' Working with this concept pushes me beyond my comfort zone to uproot whatever is holding me in place and does not allow me to flow with the the river.
At this time of year the secular calendar offers me an opportunity to pause and gain perspective on where I am and where I might have been distracted. So this Shabbat morning as I read in Torah Queeries the Drash for Vayechi-and he lived-this week's Torah portion about Joseph the outsider by Rabbi Jill Hammer, I was reminded of a conversation I had several days ago at our monthly lesbian pot luck. We were talking about the latest movies and someone said is George Clooney gay? I said I did not know. I then asked what is so toxic about being called lesbian or gay? There was a pause in the conversation and someone said I think Oprah is lesbian and will come out after she retires. We all laughed and I said what if being gay or lesbian is held in a place of honor or was just another adjective that defined one? Eva responded the world would be entirely different. I knew then what I wanted for myself more than any other gift for 2010.
Spiritual Challenge: I am committed to being politically correct as it fits with a core belief of mine, that of being kind. And often being careful with my language can keep me from the opportunity for deeper conversations both with myself and others. In The Faith Club the reason the authors' relationships grew in length and depth was because the women confronting each other on traditional beliefs that had not been explored outside these conversations. So for 2010 I challenge my need for connection with me and others with these questions:
Can I be both kind and truthful while being open to others who confront me on my behavior? Can I speak my truth as I did this morning with my daughter Ilana and deepen our conversation and my connections both with myself and her? Am I willing to share all of myself with others with pride and nonchalance or even terror? Am I willing to do what the male lead in Avatar did, risk death to meet my partner and bond with another to be able to fly together, blending energies and being the self of the moment? And to risk everything to save a life, my life?
Spiritual Practice: Through my meditation practice and mindfulness living I am committed to uproot and explore the competing commitment of my intertwining of sex and emotional safety. To hold the image of Etta Grace freely dancing in the water and she is me smiling and laughing and being in joy with all of me, so stunning in all my true colors everywhere!
Blessings of the Vav: In the mystical tradition of Hebrew Wisdom, the Vav resides in the body and holds the energy of emotional connection. I am feeling the erotic nature of this energy and revel in the aliveness. I am aroused and smiling with innocence and delight of the possibilities this holds for me.