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.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Standing at the Foot of the Mountain
Mt. Washington, NH
I stand at the foot of a metaphoric mountain. Steady in this moment, with a wall to grab hold of if I start to loose my balance. I stand gazing upward, ensouled in a body with a brain and spinal cord increasingly riddled with, MS, eMeS, my truth, my own personal Mt Sinai- Multiple Sclerosis.
Looking up and out and in and down I sing the words of my poem/prayer below. Not even a prayer for refuah sheleima, complete healing of my body, mind, heart and soul. I don't expect this. But I pray for strength, for courage, for peace, at least a little bit each day. This feels reasonable to me within the limits of modern medicine, this I believe I can experience, for I do. I trust that Shekhinah, She Who Dwells Within heals my brokenness on many levels in ways I don’t understand but sense. I cannot define the Divine, no one can. I cannot and need not prove why I have faith. It nourishes me, holds me steady. For me, that is enough.
To listen to me sing Esso Eini For Healing, (words written below as my One Shot Wednesday Entry for this week), please click here.
From the frailest flower to the soaring forest trees
Rolling oceans wide and deep
I place my faith in the womb of Rachamim,
Compassionate Essence of all being.
Esso einai el heharim,
me'ayin yavo ezri
I lift my eyes to the mountain above
Yes I know from where my strength will come.
Ezri me'im Hashem,
Oseh shamayim va'aretz
With all my heart I trust the One
I trust the One
Creator of heaven and earth
(Hebrew translation inspired by Psalm 121:1-2)
With each moment of awe I feel looking up at a blue-black sky spangled with glittering stars, or a heart shaped stone that captivates my attention on the ground near my feet, with each inhalation of joy for companionship shared with my beloveds, with every sigh of sadness and tears of compassion for those whose suffering is far greater than my own, with lovingkindness toward myself as well, yes, with all my heart I trust the One, Creator of heaven and earth as I live my life as fully as possible with a disease that has taken much from me and is bound to take more as time goes on. One day perhaps some brilliant researchers will indeed find a way to reverse and cure Multiple Sclerosis. Perhaps in my lifetime, before it is too late for me, and if not for me and my 2.5 million companions around the world living with this disease, then for the generations to come.
I pray for all beings to find something, some-One to support them in times of darkness, grief and fear. Perhaps for you this is an experience of the Divine, or maybe a devoted connection to a flesh and blood friend or partner who never lets you down...maybe all of the above. For we all have these moments of longing for our lives to be "other than this", easier, safer, more secure, no matter what our struggles may be. Yet often it is in the midst of the heavy thunderous, fiery clouds, the moments when sound and sight become one unified, terrifying garment of awe, that the greatest gift of our life is offered; faith. Faith that all we have to do is survive this one moment. Just this one, for right now this is all that truly exists.
For some there is a single defining event in which we feel the powerful Presence of that which is greater than ourselves. We feel it alone, or we feel it while deeply connected to another person or many people during a cataclysmic event, like a raging storm or earth-shattering quake. For others a meeting of grace unfolds time and again when new obstacles arise in our lives. As mysteriously as the cloak of terror seems to overtake us, the dense smoke and dust lifts. The sunlight beams through again, and our spirits emanate radiance too; we feel different, fuller, enlivened, for we have been enveloped by the great Mystery and are transformed in the process.
This evening Jews around the world will celebrate Shavuot. Receiving Torah, a living teaching that expands and deepens with each generation as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be human, to be fallible, to try again to make the world a better place for all beings. To me this is the great gift of Torah. The knowledge that we are responsible for doing all we can as partners of the ineffable force of Creation to bring healing to this planet and all of its inhabitants, the knowledge that in our own unique way, we DO make a difference; Tikun Olam, for the tiniest and the largest, weakest and strongest, richest and poorest. This is why we are here. To do good, to be good, to reach out in whatever ways we can, even if that reaching out comes from the simple writings of a woman home in her bed that uplift even a single person's heart on a day when they were feeling a little low.
I am limited. We all are, and yet within the bounds of our lives, still we can bring healing into this world, we can participate, educate, offer kindness and encouragement to others. I am having a hard time keeping up with responding to all the beautiful people who leave comments on my blog. I just don't have the energy right now to do as much visiting and commenting on your blogs as I would like to, and haven't for quite some time now. I am so sorry for this. I know you understand and I feel blessed by your compassion toward me. I deeply appreciate that you return to visit me when I do not do the same for you. I want so much for blogging to be a call and response, a reciprocal community of connection. I have met so many articulate, exquisite souls on this journey since 2008 when I started blogging. I hope to be able to visit again more in the future. For now, the best I can do is offer my words of encouragement right here, and visit a few of you occasionally. For now this will have to be enough.
All went well during my steroid infusions last week. Fabulous nurse Darcy, got the port in on the first try...a mini-miracle for me. And "Nurse Gordon" removed it with his now practically professional nursing skills. (I must confess however that l had some seriously out of control mood swings on Saturday and Sunday. My poor family! It was a high dose steroid induced temporary "invasion of the body snatchers...who is this shrieking woman and where did I go?" experience, but I'm just tired now, whew! And mostly back to being me. Yikes!) I have an eye exam and MRI's at the end of this week, an EKG that the doctor's office still needs to be scheduled, and I'm waiting for other test results too. If all is well, I will hopefully receive an OK from my insurance company to start the Gilenya, very soon. I pray for patience and contentment in this time of waiting. I pray that this new medication will slow down the disease in my body and maybe even make me feel a little more energized in the process. (Maybe?)
May we all be blessed with chesed, lovingkindness.
May we all be blessed with rachamim, compassion.
May we all be blessed with simcha, joy.
May we all be blessed with shalom, peace.
May it be so for all beings everywhere.
Thank you to my beloved teacher Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg for teaching me this Hebrew infused version of metta (lovingkindness) meditation.
As a special treat, here is a link to a podcast from one of my sweet, wise Yoga & Jewish Spirituality teachers Rabbi Myriam Klotz recorded in 2009 for Shavuot. For friends who have difficulty with standing and balance, an adaptation to standing mountain can be experienced from either a seated posture with a rolled towel or cushion beneath your bottom, allowing your hips to relax and tilt slightly down. This will assist you in gently lengthening your spine and give you a wide base of support, just like the "foot" of a mountain. The essence of this asana can even be achieved laying flat on your bed with your feet flexed or relaxed as they fall to either side of your body, pretending that that they are set upon the earth while your head is reaching upward toward the heavens (the top of your bed); this horizontal or recumbent version of mountain can illicit the same basic sensation of standing with imagination and intention. (These are my recommended adaptations to the pose, as a yogini and teacher for many years.) Don't let physical challenges prevent you from experiencing the joy of being an embodied soul fully engaged in a moment of revelation as Myriam guides us through this kinetic connection with the Divine.
(If this podcast was meaningful to you, please consider a donation to IJS for making these beautiful resources available online.)
In offering this lengthy postI am feeling a wave of gratitude wash through me for all of my family and friends far away and in my home community (I won't name names for I would not wish to slight someone with my forgetfulness, but you all know who you are and I love you.) I offer gratitude toward my friends around the world who have become so dear to me through blogging and to the many gifted people who join in the memes in which I often join each week. I thank all of you for your ever-present encouragement. A special thanks to my soul sisters at Dharma Sister's Circle, for your gentle prayers in the Blessing Place, and all that you teach me in our online conversations, through the gift of moderating Khanti: a Healing Circle, through our poetry at the Nirvana Cafe, our Art Walk and in the classroom. Thank you to my anam cara Jan Lundy for creating this sacred online sanctuary for women! Thank you to Toni Bernhard our wise guide and my close friend and confidant on matters of healing mindfully through our Khanti Circle. And of course with deep, deep gratitude for my many teachers through the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, particularly Rabbi Nancy Flam, my Spiritual Director, I add a hardy yasher koach; may you be strengthened for the wisdom and kindness you pass on to your students and to our students through you.
I offer a special thanks to my partner, best friend and lover for his companionship and devotion, an extraordinary musician, Gordon Hegfield, for recording this song for me acappella Monday evening. Happy 23rd anniversary my love! (We hope to do a fuller arrangement and recording of this in the future with layers of keyboards, but for now you have a sense of how it goes. I wrote the words and music on Friday morning while lying in bed with medicine filling my veins, I don't suppose a prayer gets much more authentic than that.)