Thursday, April 22, 2010

Intro to the kaddish

Wild iris growing in the North of Israel by the zip line.
In the Spring of 2007, my Grandson Ashby and I traveled with hundreds of other teenages and adults from all over the world in the March of the Living. We spent one week touring and experiencing Poland and one week learning Israel. On our first day in Warsaw, we visited the Jewish cemetary and as I walked silently through the winding rows, I found I had wandered away from the group to the edges of the cemetary. I came across many tombstones that lay one atop of another, on their side and in ravines covered with dead leaves, vines and debris. Our leader had told us that many of these cemetaries were not being kept up and yet this area felt more lonely and forgotten and I felt a deep sadness as well as a righteous anger.

When I returned back to the USA, I was aware of a deep need to honor my journey and those who had been abandoned and been victims of hate. I had already been standing for many years to say Kaddish for all those who have no one to honor their memory. Yet, because of my experiences in Poland and Israel I now understood and recited the words that praised the Work of the Divine with feelings and images that connected me to these lands and people.

In the fall of 2009, it had been a little over a year since I had finished the eleven months of saying Kaddish for my Father of blessed memory when my Mother suddenly and tragically died. A week after her accident I was traveling for work and alone in a hotel room. I felt lonely and in my grief compelled to recite the ancient rhythmic chant Aramaic words that I had been speaking with my daughters, neighbors and friends the previous week. I know that traditionally one says the Kaddish in the presence of a Minyan, ten men. Yet, that has not been my custom and as I stood by the window looking at the sun setting and began reading the words that I had come to know so well, I hoped my G!D would understand that my intention was more important than the rules. And as I spoke, I sensed the room beginning to fill with the energy of souls dressed in the various winter garb of the people of Eastern Europe during World War II. I was in awe and I was deeply moved and comforted by Presence and felt soothed by their compassion as remembered the truth that I am never alone.

Blessings of the Vav: In those moments, I became aware, as others before me, of the power of the words of this prayer that honors transitions that occur during death; Kaddish Yatum, the Mourner's Kaddish, a prayer to be said by the 'orphan' with the intention to remind the heart and and offer a paradoxical state to the mind that in the midst of grief and sorrow there is an amazing world that we inhabit. for me consciousness is being awake and is the first step toward healing my broken heart and if I can hold both the grief and the joy, only then is healing possible for me.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Retreat in the Moment

Blessings of Being Awake: I had an amazing moment this morning that I want to remember so I am writing to get clear with what happened! As i sat in meditation i noticed a feeling, that I can only define as 'refreshed', an experience I have had on long silent retreats. And the feeling lasted for quite a while, even now i can conjure the emotion up and i smile. Delicious!
Spiritual Challenge: To keep doing and being while being open to the surprises that gift me like the sweet orange blossom aroma that wafted my way as I rolled down the windows last week driving through central Florida. The traffic had slowed down and I had felt stuffy in my air conditioned car and wanted some fresh air. What a sweet aroma delight!!!
Spiritual Practice: keep being faithful to me by setting aside the time in the morning to just sit and focus on the miracle of a body that breathes all by itself. So today I sat by the open windows, connecting with the natural world and listened to the birds and felt the sun on my body as my chest rose and fell with each inspiration and expiration. And maybe I will know that the Divine Holy One of Blessing is in this place and that i am Home.
Blessings of the Vav: In traditional Judaism we count 49 days or sheaves of wheat called Omers between the second day of Passover and the giving of the Torah, Shavuot. In mystical Hebrew Wisdom we do this with the intention of refining our soul so we can receive the Torah as free people worthy of this holy gift. An emotion, or characteristic associated with G!D, is focused on each week and another for each day. This first week is loving-kindness and yesterday was bonding. Loving kindness is getting easier for me to hold, especially with myself and bonding is something that has seemed foreign and unlearn-able to me since I began this practice several years ago. Yet, in the practice of being a Vav and holding onto an 'and' mode of never giving up, always having hope and knowing that 'this too will pass', I still held the intention for 24 hours that I might have some insight into how to bond. I think today i bonded and the Most Holy One of Blessings was there and i took my shoes off my feet and i saw the burning bush that was not consumed and i heard my name called and tears flowed as i had arrived at an awesome Place i never thought i would experience. And in this moment I said 'Halleluyah', knowing that sometimes you can only know the Divine after She has visited.