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Monday, November 29, 2010
Gratitude: Terry Schuster
Terri has been my steady chevruta...soul-friend and study partner for six years ongoing. We study text, we find ourselves in it. We learn to understand Torah from the lived experience of being embodied souls. We met at Elat Chayyim and eyed each other slightly suspiciously across the yoga studio at our training to become Yoga and Jewish Spirituality Teachers the first day or so. We were not quite sure what to make of one another. Looking back I think it was a kind of soul recognition, but our minds didn't quite get it yet. It didn't take long for us to figure it out and then we were tied to one another...heart to heart. I miss the days and evenings we would practice yoga, study, laugh, sing, pray and dance together to the amazing drummers at our retreats (especially on Shabbat)...moving with grace, filled with Grace in our Sacred Dances of Love for the Divine.
Terri, also known (in my heart) and by her Hebrew name as Orah (light), is truly that. A shining light in the world, and most certainly in my life! She doesn't always recognize this in herself...and I feel personally responsible as her chevruta to remind her often that this is true. She is a brilliant yoga teacher, infused with Holy-Presence, with a unique gift for looking at Hebrew words, separating the letters, and discovering hidden meaning in the forms the letters create...all bringing clearer understanding to the text and how it plays out in life, on and off the yoga mat. She then incorporates these insights into her work as a teacher of Yoga and Jewish Spirituality. The photo below was taken in her apartment a few summers ago when I went out to stay with her after her mother passed on. I love that it is an image of moccasins near a window filled with light...perfect for my friend who walks, dances and practices yoga; each step taking her and all who know her on an illuminated journey upon holy ground. Please join me in welcoming my soul-sister Terri Schuster:
Gratitude.....as i sit at my kitchen table, computer in front of me, legs neatly crossed beneath me, spine ascending and lengthening, making space for my breath, and opening to the day ahead, eyes closed intent on seeing what lies deep inside, my tea gently steeping, i continue to ponder this word, what it invokes within me and for me.
It has not always been an an easy word for me nor an often easy place to access, though i have felt it deep in my knowing, my bones, my being, it has not been the softest of places to access, odd as that may seem. Far too often i let the darkness of pain, misunderstanding, hurt cover the very essence of the light gratitude brings. It holds the potential and space for connection to the doorway to knowing true PRESENCE in this world, in this life, in this body.
And today, at this moment, as true thanks quells inside of me and through me, i am ever so thankful for the darkness i experience, for the heavy boulders that often block the flow of beauty, of life, of wisdom and joy to me for they have indeed brought me to places of pause, and those pauses are the openings to true seeing and thankfulness. Openings that enable me to see and be thankful for the many blessings of
the awakening to and of life
the beauty in the early mist of the day, covering what is yet to be revealed
the growth of a soul to find itself
the gentle bend of branch in the november breeze
the trickles of water in the spring that leads to the river
the strum of my son's guitar and his soft voice chanting modeh ani
the witnessing of the fall of leaves as they let go of their time on the tree and the many ways that letting go occurs
for teachers and mentors and friends with wisdom beyond comprehension
the stretch of muscle and sinew to make space for flow
the shin shaped tree in the park nearby that offers with its low trunk a place to sit and be held, a place to witness and pause, to listen and see and be
for chill of this november morning
for memories of kites trailing in the sky
squirrels gathering and chattering
wide eyed deers and sly fairy looking foxes
of quiet times in solitude
of ecstatic times of dance and prayer
of visions of love and joy
and in the words of an invocation from one of my teachers, Rabbi Jill Hammer to Elat....
Queen of Heaven and Earth, who creates this world and all worlds, who provides abundance so that we may enjoy her and who leaves us lacking so that we may learn how to push beyond ourselves and recognize new possibilities, thereby making us resourceful and grateful. Teach us about the laws: the laws of cycles, of creating, of destroying, of re-creating. You who are the verb, the container, which holds all of manifestation, teach us the structures we yearn for so that we may create, with reverence, in your honor.
may we all find those places of abundance, push beyond our limitations so that we may find true gratitude and may we contain and be contained by reverence of creation and what we co-create in this place....