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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Emunah-Trust


 
Emunah. Trust. I trust in the wisdom of my body to support my soul, my mind, my heart; no matter how splintered, shattered, fragile or fractured I feel physically, on a given day. Every day as an embodied being, the potential for befriending my body with deeper compassion and yes, emunah exists.  

As we age or become ill, can we trust our bodies to support us in the same ways they did in the past? No. That is the truth. Our bodies, these temporary, magnificent vessels that house our souls are in a continuous state of transformation, and have been since the day we were born. So how does one trust a body that looks different, feels different, functions differently than it did when we felt physically strong? (This is of course assuming one is born with a relatively healthy body to begin with.)

This is a difficult question. And perhaps the answer changes as the body does and with the individual answering the question. I can only speak from the heart of my own experience.

I live in a body that has an impaired immune system.  As my long time readers know, I live with Multiple Sclerosis. Over the past 10 years I have been acutely ill for months on end, mercifully followed by periods of remission. Sometimes the remissions will last for many, many months, other times for only weeks.  (My MS diagnosis came not much more than a year ago, but in hindsight, it is clear that a lot of the pain, strange sensations, and relentless fatigue I've experienced over the years was likely the beginning stages of this disease.)

Even on days that hold the potential to be physically challenging, you can be certain I wake up with gratitude, with modah ani on my lips before I even open my eyes. I am grateful for God’s grace, granting me another day. I am grateful for the pleasure of waking at dawn to a quiet house before the morning commotion of my daughters readying themselves for school. I am grateful for my husband lying beside me, and our dog warming our feet at the end of the bed. I am grateful for my miraculous body, with neural connections that might not be telling my legs or mouth or sensory receptors what to do in the way I expect, but still, my body is breathing God’s breath. My heart is beating.

I trust that if I can’t walk on a given day, my body will allow me to sit, and if I’m too tired to sit, I can lay down in this holy vessel, my body, meditate, rest in sivasana and feel God inside of me. I can journal about my journey on my laptop, catch up with friends and family through my blog, email, phone calls or Skype. This is an amazing time to be alive. I may not be able to go out of the house often but my friends (from around the world) and relatives (across the country), come to me, through my MacBook. Living in a somewhat disabled body does not diminish my capacity for love or joy or expression, nor does it impede my ability to interact with other people, with animals, with the beauty of the world, with God’s enduring Presence. 

During times when I am mostly bed-bound, my connection with nature comes through my window, gazing at the sky or the trees, shifting with the seasons, or lately, the fractals of frost on the window, prisms, that separate the light into colors that quicken my heart with their magical allure. I trust that while on the one hand I am healing from the latest assault on my body, toxicity from a particular medication,  my body’s functions will continue to break down gradually over time. I understand this as the simultaneous process of entering more fully into my humanness and opening to Spirit through the fine cracks that allow God’s light to shine through. Like the frost crystals that glaze my window, I am infused with Divine sparks, a mirror reflecting God, if only for today. And, like the frost, my existence is a temporary miracle. None of us will be here forever, so this moment, THIS ONE is precious. 

I place emunah tenderly and securely in my body, the only one I have, and emunah in the Holy One of Blessing, who gently poured my soul into this same lovely, delicate vessel. I simply trust that my body will continue to cradle my soul for as long as it is meant to. I embrace the wholeness of being alive and the gift of each breath, each moment, each lesson, I am offered in this life. I may live for many more years, and there is no way to know what other losses will occur, or when, but I trust that they will, before my last breath is breathed back into God. Acceptance of this inevitability is yet another way to befriend my changing body, and a reminder to continue to cultivate gratitude for all that my body does so well and compassion for it’s suffering. 

gentle steps,
Laura


*This is an excerpt from an essay I was asked to write for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality that will be shared at an upcoming retreat. IJS offers lay retreats and trainings for Rabbis and Jewish Educators longing to deepen their own connection to God through prayer, study of holy texts, yoga, meditation and much, much more. Thank you Myriam and Sheila, my teachers, my friends, writing about emunah, helped bring discernment to what trust in my body and trust in God means for me at this time in my life. I am humbled and honored to be able to give back to the Institute in this small way.

**To make a donation to IJS, a non-profit organization that is healing the world, by expanding one heart at a time, so that we can teach and be guides for others,  please click here.

***The modah ani link above takes you to my friend Janice Lynne Lundy's Awake is Good page. Jan's inspiring blog is well worth reading; if you are unfamiliar with it, do take the time to view her abundant offerings.


31 comments:

  1. I understand your struggles and your gratitude as we are sisters in our whacky immune systems!

    We might not be where we expected to be, but we are where we are meant to be and in that I do feel Trust.

    Much love and gentle hugs,
    Deb

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  2. Your writing is beautiful, Laura. I hope your writing helps you as much as I am certain it will help others. Sometimes having to work through thoughts and feelings can be a blessing, and I have a feeling that for you ths may be so.

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  3. Thanks Deb, I knew you would relate well to this piece. It is what it is...and each day is truly a gift:)

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  4. Indeed EG...writing is powerfully healing for me...and I hope that what I learn is of use to others as well.

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  5. LauraX, I could relate to what you shared. Always healthy and now in these later years some health issues. Your writing is so special to me. I always feel as though you are talking to my heart.
    As I continue to age I still have so many questions. I thought by this time I would have answers.
    One day at a time, doing all I know to do, and trusting that I am exactly where God intends me to be.

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  6. You are a great teacher. You help us embrace the lesson Job learned in the end which doesn't come any easier for me than it did for him.But it is there as a possibility and what a more graceful way yours is than howling at the winds and at the circumstances. Thank you.
    Judy

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  7. Thank you for this post. Yes and wow. I think I need to treat my body as a part of me and not as this other thing affixed to my neck.

    God bless.

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  8. E. I think the questions are infinitely more interesting than the answers...and are sure to open us more fully to our wholeness!

    Judy, you are so courageous and full of wisdom, I am honored by your kind words to me. Howling in the wind won't carry us far, it is true, but some days it just feels good to cry out when we feel helpless in our bodies...that fear has to be released somehow.

    Sandy, absolutely, we are more than our thoughts, our planning, our emotions, we are embodied souls too. We are much bigger and much smaller than we sometimes imagine.

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  9. Such an inspiring post. Thank you!

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  10. your words are beautifully put together and are powerful in their message. thanks for your visits to my place. see you soon again!

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  11. You write in such a beautiful way Laura! Impressive and inspiring post - thank you!
    Wish you beautiful new week:)
    Hugs
    Joo
    xxx

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  12. When I feel like complaining about my aching joints (it's only mild hyper mobility but it's all relative...isn't it?)I shall read again what you've said in this post.Even your words 'gentle steps' help. Thank you.

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  13. Your words are truly inspiring.
    Healing hugs coming your way.
    Thank you, dear friend.

    Have a great last week of 2010.

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  14. That is all we can do, and that is count our small blessings.

    Wishing you a better New Year!

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  15. Thank you for sharing, Laura. Trust is huge, isn't it? Trusting that this body, this life, this moment are all exactly as they are supposed to be ... and trusting that change will come as well is incredibly healing.

    I so enjoy learning words in other languages; the way they flow upon the breath is different yet the meaning is similar. Emunah. I'll have to google for an audio of the word.

    Bright Blessings on this snowy day!

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  16. This is a beautiful lesson of Life, Laura ! Thank you !

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  17. Gorgeous words and sparkling frost crystals, Laura!

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  18. I wish you all the best :)

    /Hanne

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  19. Thank you Laura. Your writing is always so heartful. I appreciate your reminder to trust, to be grateful for this moment in my body.

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  20. Beautifully written, Laura. I love your focus on gratitude for what is........soul wisdom.

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  21. Hello!

    I wish you further good Christmas and a blessed new year!

    Be blessed Laura, hugs from Tania

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  22. Laura...
    Your words, the gifts of you sharing your heart and soul with us at whatever point your life is...and how you continually see and embody the Gifts.. well, I feel if I try to describe how this all makes me feel, I will ruin it, as I cannot possibly describe how profoundly touched, affected, blessed by it all... and so, in my pregnant silence....I KNOW you will feel all of what I cannot articulate... I do love you, dear, dear friend... Cheryl

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  23. Thank you everyone for your generous comments. As always I feel deep gratitude to the beautiful community of friends who stop by, read my words, view my photos and support me...your kindness is tremendously healing.

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  24. these days i find it increasingly difficult to bring words... but i do want you to know how much i appreciate the beauty you drink from the well with every post, and then share with us... i do read, and send you love ...

    xo

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  25. Thank you, Laura, for gift of your love, and strength, and deep understanding of the nature of life.

    I must say I marvel at your graceful ability to be in this body that is so ridden with pain and fatigue.

    May you be at ease, and at peace, and may you be as well as can be, and may you continue to dwell in joy, and happiness.

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  26. What a beautiful post. I always find your writing so enriching and no matter what your write, it always helps me understand things about myself and the world around me :o)

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  27. never mind trust, you have faith. this was inspirational to read!

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  28. I enjoy reading these thoughts and how true they speak for us!

    Silver
    Reflections

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  29. You have a wonderful way with words Laura; I wish I was even half as talented. :-)
    Thank you for an inspirational post.

    I hope 2010 is the best possible year it can be for you.

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  30. Beautifully put. Trust, gratitude, love all wrapped up. And thank you for the great comment to my blog post today. I truly enjoy your wisdom.

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