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.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

There is Nothing So Whole

"stone heart in orah's window"

“There is nothing so whole as a broken heart.”
~ 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. 

gentle steps,

Please take some time today and treat yourself to some wonderful black and white photos and shadows of mystery from all around the world!


  1. Your post has made me think a lot. In fact, I'm likely to be thinking about it for some time.

    I like the photo. Funny, to me that heart-shape looks rather like a stone vertebra. A piece of thmain support of the body. More thoughts...

  2. Hi Laura,
    I like this post very much. I have learned that I am not able to let God do His work in me UNTIL I am broken.Then He takes my broken, stony heart and gives me a whole one of flesh.
    In the story of Moses and the ten words, after the first set of tablets were broken, Hashem instructed Moses to chisel out another set of tablets and bring them to Him to be written on. I wondered about that for a long time...Why did Moses have to bring a set of stone tablets up? Finally God showed me that the tablets represent our stony, stubborn, willful hearts, and when we stop trying to be a law unto ourselves and bring them to Him, He will write His law there, on our hearts. Then loving and obeying Him becomes a whole different experience, and His shalom invades our being. It is wonderful!

  3. Excellent post and a perfect photograph to accompany it.

  4. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post, very inspiring.

    My SSS is Santa Ski Slope shadows!

  5. Hi Laura,
    As I read this a gentle hush blew through my heart..and then my entire being. Thank you. Your gift to the world and the citizens therein, Laura... is your presence - whether it's in your writings or in person... your gift is your presence...for which I am very thankful. Right now... I"m allowing the voice of your words to integrate, and to be my companion. I know I have been blessed by reading your reponse...and by all the countless ways our friendship has blessed me...and inspired me. You are the personification of Inspiration. I've nver experienced anyone who's response to circumstances in their life... is like yours - and what I aspire to. You, my friend...are bigger than anything that has ever happened to you...or is happening to you - and I know that, becuse I witness being in the world with you...and by being your friend. - - You.... are a mystical, wondrous way shower. And I thank you for that.

    With deepest gratitude...

  6. Thank you, Laura, for opening your heart and sharing...

  7. That is a most intriguing photo. Unique subject with a subtle shadow.

  8. An inspiring post. Love the stone heart.

  9. A very special ShadowShot and teaching as well. Thank you for both. Shalom.

  10. A wonderful photo and a most fascinating post! Thank you! Enjoy the rest of your weekend :)

  11. Thank you for commenting on my entry.
    I like the quote and your monochrome photo. Your entry is very compulsive.

  12. Thanks for sharing this important post!
    Have a great week ahead!

  13. Laura -
    i am grateful this Sunday morning quiet.
    Your response has lead me to your writing.
    i am grateful.


  14. Thank you Laura for this post. I enjoyed reading it and allowing the words to filter through my consciousness. It is paradoxical, but true - within our brokenness, we find our wholeness.

  15. Bravo for tackling such a deep and complex matter! Yes, I think it is true, that a broken heart has the ability to become more compassionate. And, there can never be too much compassion in this world!

  16. I volunteered weekly at a soup kitchen for seven years. It was a transformative experience to be with people who were so broken, people who had lost nearly everything: jobs, families, health, homes, dignity. Truly broken people. They'd often ask me to sit and pray with them and it was an honor to witness their faithfulness. When everything else had been stripped away from them, what did they have left? God and their faith, all abiding, ever present. With all other "distractions" stripped away (no TV, computers, cell phones, parties, jobs, etc.), they were empty vessels. When I think of brokenness, I think of our guests at the soup kitchen. Thank you for providing even more perspective on this, Laura.

  17. It's one of those paradoxes, isn't it? Blessings to you; your words always inspire me and remind me of where my focus should be. Thank you.

  18. Dear Laura, beautiful post. I remember 32 years ago - a time I thought I was at the end of my life. Thoughtfulness came my way from a source unexpected. My prayer since that day "let me always recognize a deep need for love and compassion towards those who pass my way" - may I see with spiritual eyes...
    Have a good night :)

  19. Laura,

    I do love that part of the Torah which speaks about carrying the broken pieces of the tablets--just as we carry with us our own brokenness. My son and I were talking this morning about how as people become more aware of the inter-connectedness of life, repairation when we go astray becomes the ability to speak honestly about our brokenness--to own it. Thank you for this thought provoking post.

  20. Laura, whenever I pick up a chipped seashell from now on, I will think of this post. I will listen to the whispering sea and hear your words.

    We are not broken. We are breaking to let love in.

  21. Beautiful explanation beautifully written. You are a teacher of all things, dear Laura.

  22. You are a wise teacher whose words reach those of us needing just this lesson in a gentle and compassionate way.

  23. Thank you so very much for providing this much needed invitation to surrender and acceptance for me at the precise moment in my life when I need it most. It's beautifully and masterfully written with obvious love and understanding. Such a blessing you are, Laura.

    Thank you,



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