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, November 26, 2010

Double Shot Gratitude Weekend: with Rabbi Nancy Flam & Karen Bergen

I figured since it is the day after Thanksgiving and a long weekend for those of us who live in the United States, why not make it a double shot weekend???

Today's guests are, well, of course two very special people to me! I know I say that so often, maybe you don't believe me any more, but I have a very large heart that easily accommodates many dear ones into it's expansive chambers!!! Both are healers in the world, each in her own way.

Our first guest is my teacher (yes an "official" one), my friend, my Spiritual Director, Rabbi Nancy Flam. Uh, huh...Institute for Jewish Spirituality...good guess! Nancy has sat with me many, many times one on one, first in her home, when I could still travel, and in the past two years, although we sit separately listening to our phones (and hearts) in our own physical spaces, energetically, we are present to Presence in the same realm. Nancy is of course, gentle, kind, compassionate and wise, but she also has a wonderful ease about her, an inner calm and a terrific sense of humor, all of which allows my heart to soften and open when we connect. Somehow we manage to go from laughter to tears to awe to gratitude and back and forth through all of it many times over through every spiritual direction session. Nancy has been a tremendous influence on me and has not only encouraged me, but blessed me on my journey as I have recently taken the seat of Spiritual Director for others too. You have read snippets of our "heart learning's" over the past two years on my blog as I mention Nancy frequently. I am so grateful for this dear, sweet soul who is forever a part of my life.

Please join me in welcoming Rabbi Nancy Flam, who co-founded the Jewish Healing Center in 1991. This link will take you to a booklet she wrote called Yearning for God at that time. Currently she is Director of Programs at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Nancy is a rabbi, spiritual director, mom, wife, friend and all around inspiring human being. (Not necessarily in that order...she's also a yogini, so flexible in all aspects of her rich life.)

photo by laura hegfield, nh woods in the summer
  this passage from Rabbi Nancy Flam

Psalm 150
Halleluyah/Praise God
Praise God in His sanctuary
Praise Him
In the vast expanse of Heaven!
Praise Him for might deeds;
Praise Him
According to His abundant Greatness!
Praise Him
with the blowing of the shofar;
Praise Him
with the lyre and the harp!
Praise Him
with drum and dance;
Praise Him
with string instruments and flute!
Praise Him 
with resounding cymbols!
Praise Him
with clanging cymbols!
Let every breath of life praise God,
Halleluyah/Praise God!

How can one praise God in the midst of serious illness? Praise God for one's situation not being worse? What if it is nearly as bad as one can imagine? Praise God for the memory of health? What if one was born with a congenital disease? Praise God for the depth of experience and insight which can come through suffering? Who wouldn't trade a little insight for a modicum of relief?

The psalm says, "Praise God for God's mighty deeds; praise God according to God's abundant greatness." What are these mighty deeds, this abundant greatness? The poem is vague; I do not know the author's intention. But I do know that what one considers God's "greatness" will depend upon one's understanding of God's nature and ways.

The mighty deeds might refer to God's intervening in history: Performing miracles such as splitting the Red Sea. Personally, I cannot conceive of God in this way: who willfully changes the laws of nature to help a particular people. But I do affirm and praise God as the One who makes miracles, according to the laws of the physical universe and the human spirit. The awesome power we sense as we witness fall turn to winter, and winter to spring; the One we feel when we experience true love and compassion; who has willed the natural cycle of growth and decay; in whose presence we find company in prayer.

Such greatness pertains whether I am ill or well. Praise of God is not about me or my condition; it is about the reality of God.

It may require a psychospiritual tour de force to praise God with joy and gladness in the midst of illness, but Rabbi Nachman challenges us to do so. Psalm 150 is nothing short of ecstatic, a glorious symphony which rises to a dazzling crescendo:  Shofar blasts, harp and lyre, timbrel, dance, lute and pipe, cymbals crashing loudly, furiously,.  Perhaps the music one makes is loud and furious to drown out one's own complaint.  Perhaps the wildness expresses something crazed.  Or perhaps, in a rare moment of grace, one might play the music without fury, in touch with happiness, miraculously connectd to God with praise in one's heart, lamrot hakol:  Despite everything.

Halleluyah:  Praise God!  The most breathy name of God is used here:  Yah.  Praise the Creator who breathed the breath of life into Adam and Eve and each one of us.

"The rabbis, of blessed memory, said, 'Let every soul (neshama) praise God.'  This means:  Praise God with each and every breath (neshima), so you can say at every moment and continually, 'Blessed is the Merciful One, Ruler of the Universe, Master of this moment.'" (Or HaGanuz LaTzadikim, p. 45)

The last line in the final pslam of Rabbi Nachman's tikkun [his set series of psalms to recite for healing and purification] brings us to an awareness of the breath, rooting our being the present moment, its reality and blessing.  Fully present and mindful, we recognize that at all times, sick or well, we "have only moments to live" (Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living, p. 17)

I have to tell you one more thing, Nancy requested that I share this chapter she wrote for Healing of Soul, Healing of Body. Ok, this is so amazing! My local rabbi in Pennsylvania gave me this book when I was going through postpartum depression after the birth of my first child. I underlined several sentences in this chapter. (I underlined them here for you again, to see what resonated for me fifteen and a half years ago in this excerpt.) I did not meet Nancy or have any idea of who she was when I received the book and underlined words that she had written. We met eight years later. Seeing this circle of inevitable connection makes me want to say: Kol hanshama tehallelyah - let every breath of life praise God...Halleluyah-Praise God.


Our second guest today is my friend Karen Bergen. Karen and I met at a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy training in June of 2008. We bonded immediately and became pretty much inseparable during our seven days of learning in the small town of Bristol, VT. Karen is a beautiful shining light. To know her is to immediately fall in love with all that is good and gentle and right with the world. She is a tiny person, physically with a huge aura of love that surrounds her and infuses everyone who comes near her. Please welcome my darling friend from way up north in Winnipeg, Canada, Karen Bergen.

photo by karen bergen
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day.

It’s easy to write about gratitude this time of year.  As the light from the sun wanes it’s wonderful glow, and the earth evolves into it’s shadow during the fall and winter season, our thoughts about gardening and outdoor pleasures recede into more reflective contemplation.  As a Canadian, fall time always ushers in the holidays of Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day.  It’s time to give thanks to the people who have gave us everything, and kept us safe:  our parents, extended family, friends, and the soldiers that gave their life for our sake.  God bless each and every one of them.  Thank-you all for your love and your light.

photo by karen bergen
As winter is soon upon us, may our hearts stay warm in the glow of our friendships and family we love.

Let's lead and live our lives in gratitude.


You can read more of Karen's spirit infused writing and see more photos from her life @
Happy Hippy Yoga Chick

visit my friends @

Skywatch Friday



  1. What a delightful post to read. It makes you think deeply; analyze and "see". I wonder why not everybody is aware, in some way, of all this daily? But I suppose we are all caught up with what "should now happen" that we often forget that He is present there as well, for reasons of His own, that is only later that we understand. Don't you think?
    have a marvelous day!

  2. Wow! Amazing! I really enjoyed this post because it shows the way we are each interwoven with one another and that accidents don't happen..we cross each others paths for reasons often times beyond our just amazes me that when I am in need of a lesson or wisdom or information that will help my life or someone that I know, it comes to me through people I meet in real life or through the web or someone other means, such as a TV show or a passage in a book or even something one of my little one's will say...and it's like so perfect and you just know in your heart this is a gift for you.

    I leave this visit here very encouraged and with a full heart. Thank you Laura, Nancy and Karen. Bless you. XX

  3. Thank all of you for this beautiful double dose post (although I consider it triple dose because Laura writes in it too). Present moment, wonderful moment (to quote Thich Nhat Hanh). Thanks to all of you for this reminder today.

  4. Thanks for these insightful and helpful words. They are perfect for me today in many ways.

  5. Those are beautiful photos and words. I find my faith sorely tested when a relative's wife dies the evening before Thanksgiving.

  6. A wonderful read, thankful to you for sharing these thoughts of yours.
    Great shot for SWF!

  7. Thanks for your comment

    Nice log photos and text

  8. Wonderful posts and such beautiful photography to illustrate it.

  9. So much to think about here. Thank you.


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