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Saturday, December 4, 2010
There is Nothing So Whole
~ the Kotzker Rebbe
My friend Cheryl, asked me about this quote that has been on my blog for a long time. She wrote to me, "Now that not only intrigues me... it's beckoning me... Divinely Daring me to extract it's Medicine...and infuse it within every layer of my being. What's been your experience with the Truth of this quote?" I quite understand what she means, as this wise Rebbe's teaching has always resonated for me. "How can brokenness make one more whole?" you might be wondering. I can only speak from my own experience. Brokenness allows me to fall more fully into Presence, Spirit, God, Beingness. For me, suffering has been an invitation to feel what ever I am feeling in the moment, completely. When I allow myself this gift instead of pushing away my emotions, hiding from myself, my fears, my pain, I begin to turn toward my own broken heart, mind, body with compassion, with lovingkindness that is pure, non-judgmental, free from the limits of "supposed to's," "should have's," and "if only's." Healing for me is not about "fixing" my brokenness or anyone else's. Instead, it is about relaxing, releasing into the Container that is large enough to hold everything; the ease, the joy, the comfort, the anger, the sadness, disappointment, longing, grieving, grumbling, laughter, sorrow, suffering, peace, humility, humanity...all of it...the wholeness, the holiness, the wHolyness, of who I am, of who we all are. Nancy had a lovely Spiritual Direction awareness on my behalf (or perhaps it was meant for both of us?) about exactly this early this past week, when we sat together in companionable silence, so it is still quite fresh and filled with vitality for me. (Thank YOU Nancy ♥)
The Torah teaches that Moses came down from Mt Sinai, with a precious gift. While he was up on the mountain communing with God and receiving the 10 commandments, the people below were busy melting down jewelry to make an idol to pray to. They had lost their faith, they were frightened, they were tired, they just weren't having the same kinds of interactions with God that Moses was, or at least they didn't recognize God's Presence in the way that he did. They didn't get the whole "God is not visible, but a felt Presence" thing... "God is not a noun but a verb", yet. It wasn't the culture they grew up in as slaves, they weren't ready. In his very human disappointment, Moses smashed the first set of God inscribed tablets on the ground. God instructed him to climb back up the mountain again to receive a new set of tablets. Some say that because of this act of judgment upon his own people who had already suffered so much, Moses was not allowed to cross into the holy land. One could argue that while God (in this part of the story) was not very compassionate toward Moses, God was compassionate toward the people. Then again, perhaps this was the most profound teaching of Moses' life, and in that way it was compassionate indeed, because it gave him an opportunity to expand his heart. We humans are prone to losing faith when things aren't going the way we want them to. We humans have a tendency to react in anger when we are surprised, disappointed, hurt or frightened. We humans must continually remember to live with compassionate hearts, broken, yes, but still, compassionate hearts.
There is a midrash, a teaching story, which says basically that throughout the 40 years of wandering through the wilderness, the Israelites carried not just the set of whole stone tablets (the Ten Commandments), but the broken set as well, in the mishkan (the portable ark). Why did they do this? To remind them that the broken fragments were every bit as holy (wHoly) as the unbroken tablets. Both sets were inscribed, infused with God's own intentions and energy. The same is true for all of us. Like the broken tablets, we humans, in all of our brokenness, are imbued with God's wHoliness. Being broken allows for more Light to flow in and out of the "cracks" in our hearts; a lesson in loving ourselves exactly as we are, moment by moment, breath by breath...even during those moments our inner critics might consider us to be unlovable. Even during those breaths we hold tight in our lungs in anxiety before we remember (or our lungs force us) to let go already and exhale. As we remember, learn and relearn this lesson, we continue the process of accepting our humanity with humility, while experiencing our Divinity, our wHoliness all at the same time.
In my life, I have found that the more "broken" I am, the more capable I am of compassion toward myself and ultimately other beings as well. Am I kind and thoughtful in all moments? No. Do I get angry and frustrated when things don't go my way? Yes! I may not get to that place of acceptance immediately, but I can see that I have been thrown off course better now than I could in the past. I can wind (or unwind) my way back to center with clear awareness that that's what I need to do and start doing so more quickly than I used to, without getting mired in my own drama and pain for an extended period of time. And the more I practice this unconditional acceptance of "what ever shows up" in the moment, the more skillful I become at returning to my core, my wHoly broken heart, with tenderness. What the Kotzker Rebbe is saying to me is this: "Your broken pieces, your broken heart, opens you to all the possible facets of what it is to be fully, completely, human...AND God dwells within you/me. Therefore what could be more whole, wHoly, complete than being me, a faulty, broken human?
The word for peace in Hebrew shalom, shares the same root as the word whole, shalem. In those brief and fleeting breaths during which we are "ok" (I am "ok") with our pieces, "the fine" and "the NOT fine" aspects of our life experiences, we soften into peace. When we feel peace, we recognize our wholeness. And Holiness flows through us. For me Cheryl, that is the "medicine...the truth" of the this quote. I am not a rabbi, I am not a scholar, but this is my interpretation of this deep teaching.
Please take some time today and treat yourself to some wonderful black and white photos and shadows of mystery from all around the world!