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.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Remembering Rachael

This past Thursday afternoon, a profoundly insightful, inspiring, compassionate human passed on. I met Rachael Kessler first through her book The Soul of Education (assigned reading for the extraordinary IJS Teen Educators Program I was part of for 18 months some 6 years back or so.) I fell in love her ideas immediately. Then we were blessed with a week of study with Rachael. Now I say study, but really the learning process she used with us was what she would have done with her high school students. It was experiential. So it was study, but not in the way I was educated growing up. The way I wish I had been...but all things in our past bring us to this moment...and so it is what it is.

Rachael was all about listening. Being present to our students, to ourselves too as teachers. Her approach was gentle, kind and completely authentic. I was still pretty green as a teacher when I met Rachael Kessler and I can say with all honesty that she influenced the way I would teach teens for the next 5 years. (Actually, the way I work with adults as a coach/facilitator now too!) Her way of "being" with students resonated for me personally because it was what was missing for me growing up. Rachael's Seven Gateways are powerful tools for any age. Although I was not trained to facilitate a PassageWays class, Rachael's gates 1,2,3,4 and 5 were integral to my teaching at Prozdor as well as my facilitation of Rosh Hodesh: It's a Girl Thing! and my adult SoulCollage
® playshops.

As a high school student, I did not have mentors who actually listened, who clearly (at least from my perspective) cared about me as a human. I did not have teachers who wanted to know my thoughts, my dreams, my Mysteries Questions. Through Rachael and my many other amazing IJS teachers, I learned to pay attention, to not simply impose my ideas of what I thought the kids should learn, but to find out what they wanted to know within the structure of the curriculum. I did my best to shift each class to suit a particular group of students and their needs. So again, being authentically present.

Rachael reminded me to:

Gate 1. Open my heart and listen: "The yearning for deep connection describes a quality of relationship that is profoundly caring, is resonant with meaning, and involves feelings of belonging, or of being truly seen and known."~Rachael Kessler, The Soul of Education

Gate 2.
Incorporate silence into my classes: "The longing for silence and solitude, often an ambivalent domain, is fraught with both fear and urgent need. As a respite from the tyranny of "busyness" and noise, silence may be a realm of reflection, of calm or fertile chaos, an avenue of stillness and rest for some, prayer or contemplation for others." ~Rachael Kessler, The Soul of Education

Gate 3.Encourage: "The search for meaning and purpose concerns the exploration of big questions, such as ...'Is there a God?'"~Rachael Kessler, The Soul of Education

Gate 4.
Make time and space for:
" and delight...through experiences of great simplicity, such as play, celebration, or gratitude...the exaltation students feel when encountering beauty, power, grace, brilliance, love or the sheer joy of being alive."~Rachael Kessler, The Soul of Education

Gate 5.
Integrate expressive arts: "The creative drive, perhaps the most familiar domain for nourishing the spirit in school, is part of all the gateways."~Rachael Kessler, The Soul of Education

I had always wanted to go and learn more from Rachael at PassageWays Institute, but time, money, life did not have that in store for me. Now Rachael has moved through the passageway of embodied life to soul-eternity (Talk about Mysteries Questions...What is that place? Where is that place? Is it a place? Is it just pure time?)

Rachael, you lovingly awakened many hearts through your brilliant shining Being. Mine most certainly. It is heavy now, knowing you will no longer be teaching from your physical presence, but your legacy lives on through your writing, the PassageWays Institute, through your students, the parents and teachers whose lives you have graced with your presence and through us teachers and onto our students as well.

Thank you Dear Teacher.

If you too are inspired by Rachael's work and wish to support it's continuation, donations in her memory may be made to:

The Gerzon Grandchildren Scholarship Fund

Congregation Nevei Kodesh

Passageworks Institute
Rachael Kessler Legacy Project.

Please send donations to:


P.O. Box 21601
Boulder, CO 80308


  1. What a wonderful tribute to Rachel. And through this, I also feel your deep compassion in our world.

    Peace and prayers,

  2. Good Morning,
    Thank you Lance. I have been blessed with lots of opportunities to practice...and so many incredible teachers (many of whom were my students!) Rachael Kessler was one clear bright star from this brilliant constellation of learning opportunities.

  3. Rachael sounds amazing. The world will be less without her in it.


  4. Rachael sounds like an amazing teacher. From your tribute, I can see why she would so effectively reach teens and other students. She will live on in all who teach using her methods.

  5. I'm sorry for your loss Laura! You've written a wonderful tribute to her. She sounds like she was an inspiration to all.

  6. Hi Renee, Caterina and Debra...the world will be less when each of us has passed, and more too, as we have left residue of our goodness on the hearts of all with whom we have touched.

  7. Hi Laura,

    Such a beautiful tribute to your teacher and friend!

    The experience of having such a wonderful teacher is such a huge gift. I am sure she is very grateful to have had such an impact on you.

  8. Hi Nadia,
    I love all these comments from my blogging's so interesting, I barely knew Rachael, I'm sure she would not have remembered me as she worked with so many teachers...but one brief encounter (or in this case a week long encounter) can profoundly influence us for the rest of our lives. Rachael clearly had that impact on me. I do hope many of you will pick up Rachael's book and maybe even go to a PassageWays training.

  9. By this post you help ensure her works love on. Well , how about that for a divine typo, Laura!! Live on. Love on. It seems her life and teachings are a legacy of both.

    Peace and prayers.

  10. Jannie, that totally has to be on your next blog typo list! I live it.

  11. The love for your teacher and friend is beautiful to witness. She sounds like a wonderful bodhisattva being who gave much to others. I am confident Rachel's good work will continue on through you...
    What a gift a relationship like this is. Blessings to you this day...

  12. Dear Laura,
    I can feel your love for Rachael through your words, and the profound effect she's had on your life...which all who know you are blessed by that. I am sending you energy of loving, enveloping compfort as you process this time of her transition. You are loved.

  13. Oh Sweetie, Rachael sounds like a beautiful soul and I can imagine her saying delicious things about YOU like you wrote about her here.

    I've learned that you dont see things in others that you don't have -- you wouldnt' notice -- so i'm thinking you saw your gifts mirrored in Rachael (and she probably saw hers mirrored in you) - did i just say the same thing twice? lol...

    I'm sorry that she's not here in the physical sense anymore - but so glad for how she influenced and touched you and I am WAY looking forward to reading her work. What you shared is beautiful.

    Blessings, dear one - and thanks for sharing Rachael with the rest of us!!!!!!!!!

  14. sounds like you learned something from her.
    may she rest well

  15. We all should have a refresher course of her teachings...daily. Beautiful blog you have here.

  16. Thank You ALL for stopping by, for your thoughtful comments about connecting deeply with a teacher and how their work lives on through their students who of course continue to teach whether that is their chosen profession or not. I feel that even though I only taught teens for 7 years that there are some students whose hearts I really did touch (and vice versa of course)...I believe it is in that tender meeting point of heart to heart connection that real listening and soul growth occurs.

    gentle steps dear ones,

  17. It is wonderful that Rachael graced your life. Teachers that inspire with their words and lessons are a gift.


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