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.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

T'shuva: Recognizing Holiness

View from the Kancamagus Highway,
White Mountains National Forest, NH, USA

I was watching the gathering clouds and their shifting shadows on those familiar mountains for quite a while. I saw you, but it wasn't until I turned and took a step that I could truly see you.

With an intake of breath, my heart expanded in awe, recognizing yours, so perfectly formed.

How many others had passed by without noticing? What if I had not turned that afternoon, had not taken a step?

Gratitude awakened, witnessing this mirrored image of sacredness balanced on the mountainside.

You. Me. God.

Standing as One in this single moment of grace.


I love this tree. I love remembering the feeling of awe that filled me when I looked through the viewfinder of my camera and realized that the branches and leaves grew into a perfect heart shape. But I didn't see it right away; it took a while until I was standing in just the right position to be aware of what was in front of me the whole time. The form was there, the core essence of holiness was present all along, but I had to orient myself properly in order to recognize it. I think the same can be said for the holy essence that resides within each of us.

"The essence of each one of us is good and holy because it is a part of G-d. The challenge is to recognize this holy part of ourselves—which resides deep on the inside—and to allow it to shine on the outside." (Excerpt from 60 Days: A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays, by Simon Jacobson. ©Copyright The Meaningful Life Center, 2010.)

During the month of Elul (click here to learn about the Hebrew calendar), leading up to the Yomim Noraim, the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur, it is a Jewish spiritual practice to make t'shuva...to turn, return to our goodness, our godliness, to God. We turn inward. We look in our hearts and examine closely the mountains of mistakes we have made. We turn towards those we have hurt and ask for forgiveness. We promise to do better; at the very least to try to be kinder and more thoughtful in the year to come. We do what we can to repair what we have broken. We make a conscious shift from where our hearts were positioned when we were intentionally hurtful or simply not paying attention to our words and actions. We return to God awareness, remembering that it is when we forget our own Divinity and that of others that we inflict harm. We choose to change, to grow. Like the micro-movements of alignment a yogini must make to settle into vrkasana (tree pose) with strength, firmly rooted, balanced, open, present, we readjust our inner stance until we can see beyond the misdeeds, harsh words, insincerity, apathy, judgment and wounds to discover our own holy hearts, beautifully formed, strong, rooted, balanced, open and fully present; silhouetted before the jagged background of those mountains. The dark clouds move aside, our holiness shines brilliantly. It was always there. Here. We forgive ourselves; perhaps the hardest step of all. We have returned.

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Clearly you don't have to be Jewish to "make t'shuva", I'm sure similar spiritual practices are part of many traditions. And we don't have to wait for a particular time of year to engage. It can and should happen whenever we recognize that we have missed the mark and need to return to our Divinity. Is there someone you need to make amends with? Perhaps it is time to heal the brokenness. Life is too short and too precious not to.

I just want to say here on my blog that if I have hurt or offended any of you, my readers, my friends, my family, I am deeply sorry. I am aware that I have not been as attentive to you as I could be. Please forgive me. I will try to be better about connecting with you. Your kindness, love and support means so much to me.

gentle steps dear ones,
Laura

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51 comments:

  1. Wow Laura that is really beautiful.. the tree and the wisdom it has brought to you.. thanks for sharing it.

    you're a kind and gentle soul and i couldn't imagine being offended by you. lots of love..xx

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  2. aww, thank you dear ladies. I'll drop by soon!

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  3. Laura, dearest

    great tree...very very beautiful

    I posted one photo with your name, last FLOWERS FROM TODAY.

    NICE DAY

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  4. Beautiful post, Laura. I love the idea of t'shuva. What you say is so true - quite often hardest of all to forgive ourselves.

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  5. Dear Beautiful Laura,

    Words cannot describe the joy I feel when I read your posts. I have been reading your blog in silence these last 6 months and I am happy to be able to be vocal again. I just love your writing and your heart.

    Awareness is a powerful thing and you are beautifully aware.

    Much love and blessings to you!

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  6. Indeed dear Talon, this is such a struggle...yet when we can learn to forgive ourselves, our compassion grows immeasurably.

    Admin/silent reader...thank you so much for your kind words and your silent presence here. I know there are many others who stop by faithfully and don't comment each for their own reasons...I am amazed by how many people read what I have to say and view my photos...it is astonishing to me really...and AND fills me with tremendous gratitude!

    Thank you from my whole heart!

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  7. Amazing photography, Laura!
    Your heart is full of compassion for what you see and experience...thank so much for sharing your heart with us.
    xo

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  8. Thank you Limar and Julie for your kindness.

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  9. Stunning shot indeed... Nature has so many ways to make us smile...

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  10. A stunning heart. I would imagine that many would miss this work of art even if they stood at the right perspective.

    I too have been falling behind on my visits to my blogger friends.

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  11. Well now that's an incredible find! Very cool

    Happy SWF! Enjoy your weekend!

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  12. Love you, dear heart...

    Thank you for filling mine.

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  13. I know the feeling of awe when I realize I am seeing a perfect and complete heart - how many people have passed by and not noticed ... how many times have I passed by and not seen it ... or recognized the beauty in front of me. So much like the "core essence of holiness" within us that, yes, is always present, but only seen when we're in a position of humbleness and watchfulness.

    I find tears in my eyes at the beauty of this tree-heart ... and at the beauty and truth in your words.

    Thank you for sharing your heart and soul. There is beauty here.

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  14. Ahhh, now I remember why I stopped responding to comments directly on my blog....Such an outpouring of kindness, how can I keep up! I will stop by and visit you all in your sacred blog spaces soon. For now, I'll simply say thank you to T'suki, Squirrel Queen, Tricia, Deb and Clytie...some of you are new visitors and some old blogging buddies...I'm so glad this post resonated in your hearts!

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  15. "... it is when we forget our own Divinity and that of others that we inflict harm."

    So true. Thank you for the reminder.

    Jusy

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  16. Gorgeous photo! Coupled with your writing, both really and truly moved my spirit.

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  17. That tree is incredible. I don't think I've ever seen such a perfect heart in nature before.

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  18. That tree is unbelievable. Such a beautiful shot of the perfect heart tree. Also a very thoughtful and insightful post.

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  19. A beautiful post, Laura. I was thinking as I read just what you said towards the end, one need not be Jewish or wait for a special time to think on who we might have hurt and attempt to make amends. None of us are so perfect as to be free of guilt, if we were we would be with the angels.

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  20. Breathtaking photo. Inspirational words you have shared with us today.
    Joyce M

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  21. A heart-shaped tree, a tree of love and oh, so beautiful! Great shot. Should be framed and hung in a special place.

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  22. It's really beautiful ... love this picture! And your words .... thanks for sharing!

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  23. I like that tree. You can use it at Valentines day. :)

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  24. Beautiful, beautiful words for a very fitting sight. That is just the neatest tree I have seen. Nature provides us with so much beauty if we would just look for it. Great post and I truly enjoyed it.

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  25. This is a beautiful post, so much about the ebb and flow that each of us feels. Sometimes I feel on top of things, and other times I feel lost and like I will never find my way back. Of course I always do, with the grace of God and the help of friends. It helps to remember that I can always begin again. Thank you for the reminder.

    Blessings to you, my friend ~

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  26. What an amazing tree - is it a pine?

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  27. These wonderful words touched my heart.

    And great heart tree. Love this post.

    THANK you for the lovely wishes.

    Hugs,
    Dani

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  28. Good morning Laura, thankyou for gifting us with your photos and thoughtful commentary on life, I find much wisdom and nourishment here

    as you have mentioned we don't have to be Jewish to practice this, may I "make t'shuva" also

    I am sorry for the times when I allow my needs for soultribe connection and nourishment to outweigh your needs. If it has caused you to feel burdened, please forgive me.

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  29. Thanks for sharing this moment of grace.

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  30. Laura, that is a fabulous find, how striking to find that shape formed by nature.

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  31. Wow! The sky is great, but the tree is truly amazing! How special to have seen it!

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  32. Perfectly shaped. Very nice photo.

    Thank you for the visit and sweet comment.

    Hugs

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  33. Dearest Laura, and if I have ever said anything that offended you, please accept my deepest apology too! I do err daily, but for the grace of G-d and His great forgiveness goes I.

    A real treat, as ever, to see you on my blog today. And I already have 6 of 10 new typos ready to go, so it may not be too long until my nest (I mean next) post of those! Shall I pop back in here to let you know when that gets posted? :)

    You have so inspired me with your loving spirit yet again, I put up a special sidebar button for you a little while ago. I cropped one of your sky photos, and I think it looks very nice. The button will move down one spot a day for 20 days (or 20 new buttons, whichever comes first,) to drop off but reappear in a fabulous recap post.

    Blessings and love to you and yours!

    xo

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  34. Hello dear heart...
    I'm so glad to be back at your blog again. You always have something special waiting when I do return. I love that! And oh.. what sacred prose you have spoken in your excerpt under the tree - simple divine; and to look up and see that tree, standing so majestically with it's heart open wide.. what Grace! Love IS all around is. Thank you..
    ..and thank you for talking about Tree Pose.. that's something I CAN do in yoga, where other things seem to bee too much. You ALWAYS bear loving, generous gifts Laura...thank you for always connecting.
    I Love you lots!... xxoo, Cheryl

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  35. Hi, Laura! I've added you to the New England Bloggers list; Welcome! If you'd like to be part of any carnivals or games we do, drop me a note.
    e_bogardus AT hotmail DOT com

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  36. Laura, thank you for this beautiful post. Thank you for your kind words to me about my fall. 3 days and I still am very sore. But very thankful. I have to keep remembering this - I did not break anything.

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  37. Laura, this is a great post that acts as a guide-something I can see from a distance to help me right myself--like the signpost that points the way on a mountain path. I like your gentle way of speaking about teshuvah. The picture of the heart tree is such a mysterious and wonderful way of reminding me to make amends.

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  38. Laura: Lovely photo of the heart tree in the sky.

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  39. I love the idea of a holiday that is about the heart. Last week I spent a day resting in my heart and my belly. When thoughts would rise I would drop that energy as a silent fullness into my heart or and my belly. It created a huge presence of energy, that felt like peace and most certainly presence. Nothing to figure out, more a state of intimacy within myself and even my surrounding. Perhaps our thoughts, and so much more are a excuse, a avoidance of the deepest intimacy within and with all life. Wishing you a lovely make t'shuva. Your tree is lovely

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  40. So beautiful! A heart tree:-)
    God bless you Laura, hugs from Tania

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  41. I forgive you, and in turn ask for your forgiveness. My greatest sin is perhaps that I forget who I really am. Placed in this perspective, even sin is holy.

    Laura, may you return to your own heart as I return to mine.

    May we all return to our homeland, our birthright.

    PS. The tree really is a heart!

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  42. Your words are so poetic and very inspirational! What a great and beautiful heart shape tree.

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  43. I needed to hear these words just now... no coincidence that i have not read them sooner, as tonight i have been revisiting a former hurt for some reason... this helps me heal another layer that i hadn't realised needed attention... i too am sorry for any hurt i may have caused, and forgive hose who may have hurt me...

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  44. ah yes Laura, I remember this photo well

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  45. Glad I came this way. That tree seems to tell us a lot of things. May be everything around us is always trying to tell us something. May be its just that we are not aware enough to see and hear and understand. That was a beautiful photograph. I can see why you feel the obsession to capture it again and again. Thanks for sharing this.

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