Shine the Divine:

Creativity IS a Spiritual Practice

When we see through our hearts, we recognize that every single one of us is infused with creativity. Divine Sparks are embedded in everyone and everything. It's up to us to be courageous, to look and listen deeply, to find the sparks, gather and release them back into the universe, transformed into something new. Join me as we wake up to the sacred-ordinary blessings waiting to greet us each and every day.


Friday, December 4, 2009


"The language of friendship is not words but meanings. It is an intelligence above language."
~Henry David Thoreau

This week, my dear friend Viv came to spend time with Gordon, the girls and me. Her intention was to hang out, drive me to appointments and assist me around the house. Much like the visit from my sister Amy a few weeks ago. Viv was one of the first people I met when we first moved to NH. We were introduced at a Rosh Hodesh gathering. I was shy and nervous to meet new women. We had been here maybe two months at that point. I was lonely for family and friends, a mother with very young children (Rosie was 2.5 and Belin 5.5) and my husband and no other family close by. We had always lived near family, and for the most part my sister Amy, sister-in-law MaryLou, and cousin Sharon, were my best friends (and of course always, my Gordon-my BEST friend!). My nieces and nephew were my daughters' primary playmates, up until that point, and my cousin's husband, Jerry was Gordon's closest friend. Not that we didn't have other friends outside the family, we absolutely did and still stay in touch with some of them...but mainly we hung out with family. Meeting new people and forming new relationships was crucial for all of us. It had been years since I had a need to meet anyone new, and just didn't really bother, beyond acquaintances in yoga class. My life had been pretty insular in those early years since my daughters’ births. I wasn't working; my job was exclusively to be "Mommy" and homemaker. When we moved to NH we joined the synagogue immediately, figuring this would be a good way to find friends and settle in to our new home. Growing up, the synagogue community was our “second family”; there was complete logic and a sense of "this is how it's done" for me. When my parents moved out of Philadelphia away from family into the suburbs (back in those days the hour drive to "the city" was equivalent for my Mom to moving 6.5 hours away to a new state like we had, since her Mother and Aunts didn't drive), my parents also joined the local shul (actually it was the same one my father had become a Bar Mitzvah in many years before) and that became home away from home for them (for us kids too). In many ways our synagogue here in NH feels a lot like the one I grew up in. It is small (although with a slightly larger population-than the one of my childhood), the warmth and feeling of being part of a community/extended family, is the same.

So there I was sitting, in a lovely condo in south Nashua, and in walks this vivacious woman, who immediately reminded me of an old and dear friend from college...Eve. As fate would have it, it turned out this woman's name was Vivian (of course) and her youngest daughter's name was Eve! Her Eve, who was almost 10 at the time, would eventually grow up to be our babysitter after her sister Becky, and one of my art/yoga and Jewish spirituality students for 4 years at our temple, as well as one of my Rosh Hodesh: It's a Girl Thing! girls.Talking about it recently, Viv and I recall having th same feeling of "I know you" right from the get-go; both of us creative, quirky, sentimental, humorous and soulful...although we express ourselves in different ways there was this awareness of "you will be my sister" that struck us both from the start and has stayed with us for the past 10.5 years. We can talk, laugh, cry for hours on end...and go for months without seeing each other...pick up where we left off without missing a beat. This is how it is with all of my dearest friends.

A little over two years ago, Viv and her husband moved north, about an hour and a half away. Their girls were in college and it was time for them to make a change. The summer they were preparing to move, I happened to be in a little thrift shop not far from my house. I came across this tiny red book of essays by Henry David Thoreau. When I say tiny I mean it's maybe 3" x 4". The lengthiest section of the book was Thoreau's thoughts on friendship. I found it hard to read the archaic writing style, and thought, “Wow! This would be a perfect canvas for an altered book...I'll create something really special and give it to Viv as a going away gift”. As life would have it, I never got around to altering the pages...and I never really sat down to read this petite treatise on friendship...and yet I kept it by my bed with the intention that one day I would add some images and give it to Viv.
I decided when she came down this week that it was time to just give it to her already, without fanfare, "just because".

I never knew until she told me the sunny morning I placed it in her hand that she LOVED THOREAU; he was a favorite author since she was a girl in High cool is that? In between errands (meaning medical appointments and a mini shopping spree-as I am home-bound-this was an opportunity to pick up birthday and Chanukah gifts for my girls). We stopped at a CVS drugstore, so she could replace her ever-missing sunglasses. I stayed in the car, not wishing to expend extra energy before our next stop an picked up the tiny red bound book, opening it to a random page. There it was, the quote above. My heart filled up with a huge YES! That's the kind of friend Viv is. That's the kind of friend many people in my life seem to be; beings with whom there is a special recognition, heart to heart and soul to soul.
My God, I am so blessed!

Some friends live near by, others far away across the US and a few in other nations. Some I've met through intensive trainings at IJS, YJS, SoulCollage® and Phoenix Rising...others are from our Temple Beth Abraham family, old friends from my childhood, high school and college...many of whom I've sought out through the internet (or have found me)...the ersatz train/plane/automobile that can take me anywhere I want to go, especially now that I am essentially homebound...and then of course my flesh and blood family. Indeed, I am blessed again and again to have so much love in my life. It is true that I am by nature a communicator. As a teen and young woman it was through poetry and song. Later it was through visual art and then through yoga/movement...eventually teaching and coaching. Now my primary form of expression is blogging; a unique art form that at times can encompass several of these other modalities.

I want to return to the quote again: "The language of friendship is not words but meanings. It is an intelligence above language." Since this last MS exacerbation that has caused my skills in language to be in flux, this idea of friendship being "an intelligence above language" strikes me with intense power. I have explained on this blog how when I lose words, or the ability to construct a proper sentence, beneath the words, my witness consciousness is aware of all that is missing structurally, all that is spoken and all that I am longing to say, but cannot find the words for. Yet, despite my difficulty in speaking at times, I am still capable of communicating clearly. Perhaps this is that intelligence of which Thoreau writes? My dearest friends have no problem understanding me, no matter how garbled, accented, syntax confused or odd my speech pattern is in any given day. There is an intelligence beyond words (above or below or perhaps in between), in a gesture, a vocal inflection, a shared experience, an energetic sensation or even projection over the internet or telephone that we share; it expands words, exceeds words, fills words, infuses them with something difficult to name, but that we all have felt at times. Perhaps these are the flashes of awareness outside of time that the philosopher Martin Buber might have considered “I-Thou” moments. When the space between two beings is filled with the Holy Blessed One…and God’s Presence becomes a bridge that binds our hearts and souls in a way that words cannot. The connection is real and lasting in our cellular/soulullar memories, but brief in "real" time. I am now visualizing a thumbprint on my heart, an indelible, unique mark left by each friend, that will remain with me always. I suppose my heart is smudged with many prints like the sliding glass doors that leads to the the back yard of our house...the one covered in nose and paw prints from our dog and cats, separating them from the world outside and the world inside our home. Yes, again, the heart, my heart a symbol for home, love, safety and Divine connection.

The SoulCollage® card at the beginning of this entry is one I created to represent my daughter RoseWillow in my SoulCollage® Deck. It reflects a sense of longing, connection, playfullness and heart-centered presence. All of these words can be applied to my feelings about friendship at this time in my life. I consider my daughters, Rosie and Belin to be two of my closest friends. I know, I've read all the parenting books that warn against "being friends" with our children...that there are boundaries that must be set between a mother and her children. We have boundries and we cross them sometimes; this to me is healthy for us. All relationships must shift and grow as we change throughout our too the relationships with our own mothers and children. I wouldn't want it any other way.


  1. How true are your words and how deep their meaning. Friendships grow to a depth that has no words; Needs no sound; and is felt deep inside. Sometimes it takes no words at all to convey the Love between friends, family and those we care about.
    God is using you right now, working though you on so many levels. Your words fill the soul and enlighten the spirit. May you continue to feel the presence of Love and may you friendships be full.

    "The language of friendship is not words but meanings. It is an intelligence above language."
    ~Henry David Thoreau
    Blessings to you and yours. Love and Light, Nina P

  2. Thank you Nina... I love how friendships begin with total strangers meeting in conventional or unconventional ways and the transformation from separate to deeply connected beings takes place...even if it is for a brief moment of recognition and knowing and then it shifts again as we part...there is always still "a part" like "Holy residue" that always remains from the encounter.


  3. Dear Laura, your thoughts on friendship here are so beautifully expressed. There is much I could relate to, having been through the challenges of moving and leaving long time friends and family, finding new community, being bound to home, but still finding ways to feel connected and fulfilled. I know the health challenges that have kept me separate from people physically have also elevated my sense of love, deepening and expanding my friendships in ways I may not have otherwise learned. more often than not, I feel less isolated than I have in the past and sense the oneness we all share - the linking of our souls. I am grateful to feel your friendship and presence in my life!!
    Your imagery, too, portrays an intelligence above language, leaving thumbprints on all of our hearts!
    love, Karin

  4. time and space can not alter what is meant to be

    love has no bindings except those we place on it

    Friends hear our call when we don't even know we dialed the phone

  5. My dearest Laura,

    I must apologize as you have been on my heart, but I have not been in touch, lately. As I am sure that you understand, sometimes a change in schedule can really throw things off when you are chronically ill.
    I loved being away with my family, but the catch-up can sometimes overwhelm me!

    This post really touched my heart. My brother was a fan of Thoreau so now anytime I read a quote by him, I feel as if my brother is trying to communicate with me, in a way. Does that make sense? It is like a little reminder that he is still with me. It makes me pay attention to the moment in a more conscious way. I am so glad to know that you have so many loving friends who support you and honor you as a dear friend. That is such a special gift. I also think that it is wonderful that your girls are two of your best friends. The older my girls get, the more I allow that avenue to open, wider and wider. I really enjoy them and they are some of the first people who I think to call when I have something to share. Daughters are so fantastic!

    Thank you so much for the lovely messages that you have left for Jack and his family. Jen, his mommy, is a precious soul and this is weighing so incredibly heavy on her heart. She knows what she must do, but that doesn't make it any easier. She and Steph truly appreciate all of the love and support that they get. Thank you for taking the time to let them know that you are sending them prayers and healing energy. You are wonderful, dear heart.

    Take good care, sweet friend.

    Love and hugs,

  6. Thank you all for entering my life at a time when I truly need friends more than ever...and who doesn't need friends? The past few days have been really intense for me so it's always so good to read comments on my blog and realize that even if for the most part I am home bound (or living in my gnome mound-as my friend Viv has reframed this term for me) I am surrounded by friends from afar...and that energetic love travels so easily across the planet via the internet!

  7. Dear Laura,
    You have beamed into my life with your heart of gratitude shining so brightly— waking me up again. Better than any meditation I could sit today, or any painting I could work on... I'm grateful for the connection we've made. You have sent me joy, awe and gratitude for this wonderous life we share. Thank you.


    "I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of Love, Integrity, Wisdom and Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One."

  8. Brachot habaot...welcome Kris to my home here online! Thank you for the blessing...I'm so happy to be linked to you too now!! Oh such a grand mystery this blogging adventure!

    gentle steps,

  9. I love Thoreau; I connected with On Walden's Pond very profoundly at a young age.

    As a very shy young girl with speech impediments, I read that to have good friends, you have to be a good friend. To have friends like Viv, you're obviously a good friend in return and you value those who you care about. I continue to love the phrase "witness consciousness." Such a great description, Laura. You always enlighten me and give me new food to taste and savor. Thank you!

    Love the blessing from Kris!

  10. Thank you Rose...I too was shy as a child...I know hard to we are you and me and thousands of bloggers sharing the intimacies of our hearts with the feels safe though...because friends are so abundant in blogland...maybe BECAUSE we open our hearts? I know as a teacher of teens that authenticity is THE way to reach them...Kids can totally tell if you are not present with them...not engaged...I think the silence of reading a blog post helps to create a sense of sacred space where we can touch each other in ways that might be harder in person-there are no distractions...I don't know if I am making sense...I'm really struggling with language again this evening (yeah, my grown-up speech impediment)...I am fatigued and that always slows down the neural connections for me...but friends...well same's about being authentic and feeling safe enough to be our Truest Jan's book...then our holiness can shine and meet in the space between...becoming a bridge...becoming Divine Presence.


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