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.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Falling To, Again and Again

Written 10/19
It's interesting the way memory works isn't it? I forget so many daily details in the "present", (drives my kids crazy with all the repeating) but the past, the past is so clear sometimes. I woke up this morning and somehow knew it was Oct 19. I checked my calendar to be sure. It's my Nana's birthday. If she were still living she would be 112 today!!! But she's been gone from physical form a very long time now. She died when I was 11. And that too I remember with what feels to me like complete clarity. The hush of the morning that became filled with her crying out for my grandfather (he'd died when my Mom was only 5). I can still hear between her labored breaths..."Bill, I'm coming, oy, oy, oy, Bill, I'm coming." I remember Aunt Bebe and Amy (my big sister, 16 at the time) managing to dress her and somehow get her down the half spiral staircase toward the garage; our neighbor waiting  in the drive with her car. I guess they were afraid the ambulance would take too long. I recall the way they got her into the car all slumped over against, Beb. I watched from a distance, like a shadow of a child...staying out of the way as best I could, wanting to be a part of "it"...this leave taking...this shift...from life as I had known it. This shift from life to...

It was so very early in the morning. I felt frightened. Our parents were away for the weekend. Pam, my little sister was asleep still and I guess Owen was up at college. This is how I remember it. It seems clear, feels a dream you just can't shake, but I'm sure I must be mixing up some details. Amy would remember more. I was 11, I was scared. My Nana who I loved so dearly, who had lived with us since I was 5...My Nana who would tell me stories when I sat on her bed from long ago...stories from her life and her mothers and her grandmothers that seemed like fairy tales...My Nana who told me I was a wonderful artist and to keep drawing and making things with my hands...My Nana who I watched daven shacharit every morining in her bedroom...My Nana who taught me to recite the shema...My Nana, who as a little girl I believed was a pure, good person, the best person, the most loving (even though she sometimes scolded)...My Nana with her wonderful sense of humor and amazing skills in the kitchen...was dying...and I understood that. I remember watching some dumb early morning show with a man dressed up in a Native American headress. I remember Bebe coming in, tears rolling down her face..."She's gone. Nana's with God now Mameleh"...I remember hiding in a closet...the one where my mother stored her fancy wool coats. I cried, I howled, I was so angry with God. This was my first up-close encounter with death. How could God take my beautiful, sweet Nana? And there was the selfish child part that railed "How could you take MY NANA before my Bat Mitzvah??? As if after would have really been all that much better. I learned about death. I saw it again with other relatives I loved dearly, but none as dear as Nana until Bebe's passing when I was in college, and a newlywed. Clearer memories. The night before her passing I held the oxygen mask over her face...she pushed hard to get it off, she fought me. I fought back. I wasn't ready to let go. I sang to her. I soothed her into sleep. The next morning we received the call and went to the nursing home. I went in. I kissed her lovely cheek. Cold, smooth and soft as a babies (she always had the softest skin of anyone I have ever known). Such a relief that she felt the same, looked the same...just cold skin to my touch. Peaceful now. I was not afraid. I had learned that death was death. An end, and a beginning. Beginning of what I cannot know, not really...but in all these years later Nana and Bebe visit me quite often in dreams. They soothe me. Make me feel safe. I know they are not really..."gone". Honestly. I have conversations with God a lot. And since Nana's death, I've gotten angry a few times, but not very often. Somehow, God the ineffable, my grown-up way of conceiving of God, which is to say a Divine power I cannot understand really, but can perceive often...God who is sometimes my imaginary friend, because it's easier to have a conversation that way...and I have made peace.
Written 10/18
In response to my dear friend Jan Lundy's, truly beautiful post Surrendering to the Winds of Change, I wrote a comment this evening...and I felt it said a lot about me and my way of looking at life. So I copied and pasted my comment and am sharing it with some slight tweaks with all of you here on my site.

One of my favorite books as a child was The Fall of Freddie the Leaf.

My dad is an oncologist. This was a book he had in his office waiting room for his patients and their families.  As I recall, it is about life, death, letting go, transformation...and even as a child I always felt it was about falling to...not from something, you know???  If we look at falling in this way, it's a lot less scary. in fact it's kind of exciting and joyful.

I think this way of looking, being in the world sustains me...because with MS...falling isn't just a happens fairly regularly...we fall down a lot!!! but philosophically, spiritually...if I set my soul's understanding in alignment with an idea of "falling to", as opposed to "falling from" the changes that I face daily (gosh we all face daily, not just chronically ill folks like me!) are not frightening...they are indeed part of the flow of how life just is..and falling to some new way of being in my body, is sad some days...and ok, scary too, some days....but mostly just really ok. I'm growing, I'm learning, I'm loving more and more of life and humanity and spirit with each change...that's a pretty gorgeous pile of leaves to fall to.

I wrote about this idea of falling to a bit last year after a spiritual direction session with Nancy that was pretty powerful...if you haven't read that post in the past, I think you will enjoy click on the purple link.

I'm not feeling particularly poetic at the moment. VERY, very intense pt session today and I am fully exhausted and ready to I won't post this until tomorrow. Still waiting for that battery charger, so I've included a lovely yellow leaf photo from my archives above. Notice the dominant leaf in the photo filled with both light and shadow?

Still, this last thought is coming to my heart/mind:
Nature reminds us over and over again that this balance of holding both-and...sadness-joy...fear within our courage...this is how we live...this is how we move forward....this is how we move into change with dignity, grace, humility and acceptance. We fall to...we fall to what ever shows up next...but in the the here and now...we rest with the balance of both-and...change will happen...we will something we might be imagining...or something that might be completely different than that particular dream...perhaps a more beautiful one than our intricate, brilliant yet still limited minds could visualize.
gentle steps dear ones,

ps. I cried copiously as I wrote the first section (actually the second section if you want to be technical, about my grandmother) and then over and over again as I edited. This was a very good thing, this crying, so healing. I remembered my dear chevruta/soulfriend Orah telling me something she had heard from somewhere, that has remained with me and I just love. I'm paraphrasing from memory.....if anyone knows the original source for this quote please let me know.

"Tears are the mikveh of the soul"

for those who don't know, a mikveh is a ritual bath for purification and rites of passage...find out more by going to this link:  mikveh


  1. This is certainly the time of year for remembering those who have passed away -- and for feeling our own advancing years. I know I've been doing a bit of both lately.

  2. My heart aches for you, sweet Laura, for all the losses you have had.

    I was especially struck by the way you look at falling - as TO something, as well as FROM something. Because there is always another way to look at everything, isn't there? Where you are going is always more important than where you have been.

    Sending you love and hugs,

  3. Laura, this is beautiful! Even at such a young age you had ancient wisdom. And love your 'falling to' concept. So simple and yet it makes such a difference on how things are perceived.

  4. Death is always a very scary thing, isn't it? I've had many fears about it recently for members of my family as well. I've never lost anyone very close to me...except for pets. I'm very scared of going through the same thing with my grandparents and parents even though I know that I am so very fortunate to still have all of my grandparents at the 'ripe old age' of 27. I'm the only one among my friends to still have all of my grandparents, it's very rare indeed at my age. I try to keep in mind how very blessed I am to have been able to have them with me for such a very long time and hopefully that will make it easier when they do go, but it will not make it any less scary, that I do know.

  5. I remember the loss of my dad very clearly. It was agonizing in many ways, but I also remember that God was very close to me when I cried out my grief and disappointment to Him, and I heard his voice in my heart clearly reassuring me of His love for both me and my dad. That "message" carried me through much heartache in the months to follow.

    I enjoyed reading about your Nana. My daughter calls my husband's mother Nana, as well : )

    Rest today, from your labors of yesterday.

  6. I like the thought of falling to...
    A thought provoking post.


  7. My thoughts of death actually changed when I saw it firsthand. My aunt, who was the grandmothers I never knew, passed easily from this world to the next. One minute her body rose and fell with her last breaths, then quietly they just stopped. It helped me to understand better that idea of a journey from one place into the everlasting.

  8. a good cry, such a joy after!

    (you lost your "battery charger", and you are tired too; so this tells me to rest, its ok to rest up. When i know i am processing a lot of deep psyche life stuff, and i get that tired feeling, its time to pull away from thought and talk and seeing. Maybe resting is like a leaf too, floating from a great tree height a while, letting the wind carry us gently without gravity or thought of control. )

    I think C.S. Lewis once wrote that all of nature is about the metaphoric business of telling us "how it will be" and you are doing that too, seeing that.

    After losing my brother last Dec, i know that we have no choice. We have to "fall to", we have to allow life's unfolding;

    maybe we are blindfolded from all the answers or knowing for a reason that is blessing?
    Love how you say in the other post that you are seeing more than just "objectS" and into the light etc... really lovely. Part of photography joy?

  9. oh Laura - i have goose bumps-it's so sad and in a way so beautiful. there's something holy and peaceful clinging to your words

  10. I read, and then re-read, and then came back to read this post again. I tried to respond earler, but my words were confused, about the tears that came at the end when you wrote about change, the unknown about what lies ahead. Again, with the tears for me. This time I saw what you added at the end. Perfect. Cleansing. That fits for me with the loss of loved ones, the change I can't control, and the dreams that are bigger than I can imagine. Blessings to you, dear Laura ~

  11. Laura, dear Laura...

    how you write with such tenderness. and how your nana smiles down on you. this part grabbed me:

    he hush of the morning that became filled with her crying out for my grandfather ...

    what love you shine. you are beautiful, friend.

  12. Dear Laura, You put into words so many things that I feel. My dear grandmother "ma" was closer to me then anyone. Loved me, encouraged me, taught me, and was always there to listen. My parents were teenagers - just children. I miss her and cannot think of her without tears in my eyes.
    Your words echo in my heart and yes, My Lord - My God, I pray and talk to like I talk to you. How else would I talk. I have been protected, guided and loved through these conversations.
    You are such a dear blessing to this One Woman.

  13. when we love deeply, we cry deeply... you have the loveliest memories there.

  14. What a touching recollection of your grandmother.My grandparents, on both sides, died when I was small too.
    I remember most vividly my fathers father, as I have been told to resemble him a lot in my traits. He was also an avid photographer and I guess my love for photography is passed on from him. I wrote a post dedicated to him a few months ago and about the memories of him that I cherish.
    Have a lovely week dear Laura,

  15. Such wise and healing words here. I love the idea of falling to and will be holding it close as I explore how that might change my perceptions. Rest, my friend.

  16. Posting on behalf of my sweet Mom:
    Thanks for the beautiful and touching tribute you paid to your dear Nana. You turned out to be everything and more than what she could have ever dreamed of you.
    We love you more and more each day.

  17. Laura, love your leaf shot. The shadow cast looks like a bird perched on a tree.

  18. I was deeply utterly touched by this blog entry. My family has lost so many beloved members over the past seven years. One week we lost two aunts, one great aunt and my younger brother...the following year, a favorite uncle and my own darling Grammie.

    I think if I were to stop a moment and really allow myself to feel i might never stop crying.

    Thank you for what you wrote. Thank you.


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