Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Well, it's New Year's Eve and in keeping with our long standing family tradition, we are staying in for the night. New Year's Eve has always seemed like such a contrived and forced celebration that we gave up trying to participate long ago. Our tradition has become to have Chinese food, eating it in bed, sipping champagne. Even that has changed in recent years. First all I stopped drinking alcohol about eight years ago, so champagne is out. Then we really don't much care for Chinese food any longer, it's just so oily and bland; everything is brown. so, now we eat Indian food, sip sparkling cider and we eat at a table because I don't want my father in bed with us.

Life goes on. Nothing is static. Nothing lasts forever.

This morning Jon and I went to a meditation for world peace it was a lovely event. I thoroughly enjoyed the meditation. I forgot how deep meditation is when you do it in a group. There were several readings that were just lovely and held a lot of meaning for me.

Lakota Instructions For Living Life

Friend, do it this way - that is,
whatever you do in life,
do the very best you can
with your heart and mind.
And if you do it that way,
the Powers of the Universe will
come to your assistance,
if your heart and mind are in Unity.
When one sits in the Hoop of The People,
one must be responsible because
All of Creation is related.
All of the hurt of one is the hurt of the all.
And the honor of one is the honor of all.
And whatever we do effects everything in the universe.
If we do it that way - that is,
if you truly join your heart and mind
as One - whatever you ask for,
that's the Way It's Going to Be.

Love it! The least of what we do reaches out and effects all of us. We are in the Hoop of The People whether we accept that or not. There was another reading that I want to share as well. I think this one had the most profound effect on me. It is:

All things share the same breath - the beast, the tree the man...
the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.
Human kind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.
Man does not weave this web of life.
He is merely a strand of it.
Whatever he does to the web,
he does to himself.

~~~Chief Seattle

My morning meditation that I do for my prayer call brings in the concept that we share one breath and this breath is the breath of one life. I feel so separate sometimes from the rest of human kind. I connect easily with nature... it's humans that I have a problem with. But, I'm sure that is true for most of us. We are hurt the most by other humans. Animals bring us only joy. But, I'm working on loving all of human kind too and mostly I am succeeding. I see myself when I look at you. I am the light of the world and I choose peace.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Since my job has dried up and I am sitting in the house quite a bit; it wouldn't be so bad except that I have no privacy here and I attempt to hide. Which I realize that this was a pattern of mine since I was a small child living in this very house. I would hide.

I spent a great deal of time sitting in closets fantasying that this little spilt level in the suburbs had secret passages that I could access and be safe and free. I had forgotten about my fantasies until we moved back here a couple of years ago to supposedly take care of my aging father (except he is too stubborn to accept help, so all we do is fight). Shortly after we settled in, I began to remember, "Oh, I used to sit in this closet." "Oh, I squeezed into this closet." Little by little the memories came back. It was an uncomfortable feeling.

Then I began to remember some of what I was hiding from. I don't think it is anything dramatic.  I don't think I was sexually abused, but I certainly was neglected and went through a good about of emotional abused. Mine was not a happy childhood.

However, I didn't come here to whine. My childhood is part of my story, it isn't the whole thing. I have come to terms with it and I am not my story. I really feel that I have moved past it and dropped those bags.

What is on my mind today is my job. I love my job. Being a hospice chaplain is such an honor. What concerns me is that it appears to be evaporating before my eyes. Budget cuts. Medicare oversight. I believe that hiring per diem chaplains was an experiment to begin with and now I think they are looking closely at the idea and deciding that it really isn't cost effective. Hence, I have been pared down to six patients, three visits a week. Not a lot of money. It's far less than I was making.

The powers that be say that full time chaplain must carry a patient load of sixty patients. If the census is only at 85, which it isn't even that at the moment, then that leaves twenty-five for me and the other per diems to split, assuming the patients all what spiritual care... which they don't. I think the higher ups feel that the full time chaplain should handle it all and if she can't then maybe they will start looking at whether they need her or not.

So, I worry about my job. There isn't anything I can do about it. I just have to ride this wave and see where it lands, but it leaves me stuck in this house with no privacy, no room and no where to go.

It's an opportunity for me to expand my ministry in some fashion. I would like to do a wedding or two. I love love to get some funerals to do too. I would dearly love to do spiritual counseling. So, this lack of work is an opportunity for me to branch out into those areas, only today I am feeling sorry for myself. I'm still in my pajamas. I thought of going out, but I can't think of anywhere to go. So, I am moping. Tomorrow, I will see a couple of patients and start to really think this through. But, today... I mope.

I spent several hours on Facebook looking through friend lists trying to locate people that I knew from the kibbutz. I found quite a few people and a I did some walking down memory lane. It's funny how people don't age in your memory. They always stay the same as when you them, but I saw how much they all aged, some worse than others. But, we are all getting old. I can't really say that I miss Israel all that much, I certainly don't miss the kibbutz. The kibbutz was a dead end for me. It was for Jon and Adrienne too. So, I'm not sorry that we left. Honestly, there weren't many people there that I would even want to see again. But, it was fun looking through all of the profiles and reading about what they are doing, etc. I know that life on my kibbutz is nothing like when we were there- I'm not really sure that it's officially a kibbutz any longer. I think many people work off of the kibbutz and perhaps keep their income, I don't know. But, it was good to catch up with these folks. I wonder how many of them remember us? Some I would suppose.

I don't like feeling useless and that's what I have felt this week. I will mope for a bit longer, but I need to find purpose and meaning soon. If my job doesn't pick up soon, I will need to come to a few decisions.

The time to meditate is now. Off to meditation I go. But, first I will get dressed.  

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


My last post was entitled "Things That Make Me Happy." I have been thinking about that post ever since I wrote. I realize that the little things are the things that make me happy. Those geese coming up over the hill made me laugh. Watching my dog and cat play makes me happy. The squirrels attaching the bird feeder makes me happy. My granddaughter always makes me happy, even when she is being a brat. This is a picture of my daughter and Isabella when Izzy was a baby. Isabella is almost three and a half now. This picture makes me happy!

Things don't make me happy, in fact objects are what keep me from noticing the very things that make me happy... go figure. Every time I want a new toy and I finally get it, I am struck by how insignificant it is. I just got a new iPad; I wanted one for sometime now. Well, now I have it and I feel that it just keeps me from noticing the things that truly make me happy. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful. I love my iPad and I love my husband for buying it for me, but instead of following my breath, I am playing Fruit Ninja or doing other inane things. The iPad is a tool and if I can just remember that and use it as such then it's great. To use it a diversion or a delaying tactic to keep from going within then it's not good. When Jesus talked about a camel finding it easier to get into heaven than a rich man this is what he meant. Our wealth and our things are a diversion from being here now.

Last month I was in Penn Station waiting for Jon to come out of the mens' room. There were three black guys decorating the station for Christmas. I was struck by how much care they were giving to their task. One of the men was a big burly guy, he was formidable because he was so tough looking. The big guy then went to a huge box holding the Christmas decorations and selected a wreath to hang in the center of the draped holly they had just hung. He took the wreath out of the box with such care, then he considered it for some time and finally he broke into a big smile. He liked the wreath, it pleased him. He then went to his fellow workers and showed it to them and they all approved with equally big smiles.

This little tableau gave me such pleasure. I was smiling too. Jon asked me why when he rejoined and I pointed out the three men working. We watched them for a moment or two longer before hurrying on our way. I think the element that caused me to smile was the paradoxical nature of what I saw. The big man handling the decorations with such care and enjoyment. When watching the geese, it was the surprise element of first the head appearing and then the rest of the ungainly body. The wag of the tail at the end was just icing on a cake.

So what is the nature of happiness. Is it one thing in juxtaposition to another? Or is that the nature of humor? I think perhaps that is the nature of humor- things in opposition, contradictions and paradox. So, what is that makes me happy?

Sometimes I feel that I am flat. I don't have a range of emotions. I hang around the middle. Never totally joyful and never completely sad. In my younger days, I cried quite often. Today, I only mist up. If I do cry, it seems to be from joy rather than sadness. Now, that's not a bad thing, but I want passion. Anger is the emotion that can elicit passion in me and I don't care for that quality. I suppose it is a moot point at thins stage in my life, I am who I am. I am me. Perhaps I am meant to be the grounding energy for those around me; at least that's what it seems like and it's not so bad.

It's the end of the year and quite a year it's been. I worked hard. I am frustrated by my living arrangements. My job as a chaplain is in question because of budget cuts and that truly makes me sad. I long to feel God and mostly I feel no closer than last year. Isabella makes me laugh when ever I am with her. She is just a lot of fun. My boss Chris died on Christmas day after battling cancer for six months. He was a young man. He was good to me and treated me with much kindness; he made me feel like an integral part of the team, and he's the only one at my job that did that. He was a sweet man. I will miss him a lot. So, in some ways it's been a sad year.

I work hard at One Spirit. I am happy when I am there. I want a place there. I want it to be my spiritual home, yet I am ever mindful that fortunes change, new people come into view, old ones leave. So, who knows how long it will last? I don't. What I have come to realize is that my spiritual home is inside of me. If I am happy when I am at One Spirit then I can access that feeling on my own. If I am to find God I will only find him right here, right now, inside of my own being. Spiritual practice eludes me. I am undisciplined. Yet I feel that I need to just stay in the now. I think I am getting better at it and isn't that I spiritual practice all in itself?

So, at the end of the year, I am still plagued with the same questions, longings and self-doubt that I've always had. Only now I am more aware of it and I don't seem to place as much significance on it as I was did. I feel that I am making progress at the pace that I need to make it. All is right with my world. If a attain enlightenment in this lifetime- great. If not, and it takes me another ten or twelve lifetimes, then that's great too. It's all good. And that is truly progress.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Things That Make Me Happy

I parked my car at the top of a hill. The ground drops off and travels steeply down where it meets a small stream at the bottom. It is a picturesque place just off the highway and along side the parking lot of the building that I was going to. It's pretty little spot that is mostly hidden from view, unless you park in this lot.

I was sitting in my carr filling out a form for work when I looked up and there was a head coming up from the hill- next came a long black neck, followed by a too large body and finally the webbed feet came into view. A Canada geese. Once he was at the top of the hill, he wagged his tail in triumph. I smiled. Then came another goose who repeated the same pattern. And then another and then another. An entire gaggle. One by one, up the hill they came and as each crested the hill it wagged its tail. I found myself smiling from ear to ear... the human method of tail wagging. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Melancholy Morning

I cannot describe the solace and comfort that I receive from looking at nature. My father said once "Nature is glorious in all of her mantles." I love that and fully agree and embrace it; nature is beautiful in all seasons. Each has its own mystery. There is great beauty and mystery in every season. I love summer and all verdant lushness that accompanies it. But I was so thrilled when all the leaves were gone from the trees. I felt like an old friend had come to visit, the bones of the trees are fully exposed. The lacey treetops, the squirrel darries, and old bird nests- all exposed. The light pours in my window because there are no leaves to filter it and that light warms my bones. I love the soft browns, mauves and green/grays of the winter palate.

I eat lunch most days under a glorious grandmother sycamore tree, I love that tree. It stands along side a lovely lake called Strawberry Lake. I used to ice skate on this lake when I was just a kid. I didn't notice my sycamore tree then, but I know it was a silent sentinel even then. How many seasons has that tree seen? One just rolls into the next. I find great comfort in that. Eventually, my beloved tree will succumb, eventually, I will succumb too. And yet I find great peace in that, it is as it should be. I am reading a book called Wild Comfort by Kathleen Dean Moore, in in it she says each thing rolls into the next and becomes something else. God is a
verb, creating and creating and recreating.
Yes, things change, people die, sycamores fall under the axe, historic buildings collapse under the wrecking ball, but this is how it should be. Each thing should give way to the rise of the next thing. If we try to hang on to the old, the comfortable sameness, we stop the flow of God to create, and we suffer. It is far better to allow it to wash over us, experience whatever is, allow it to rise and then fall away. Like Rumi says it is "clearing you out for some new delight."

I am feeling melancholy today. I am enjoying my melancholy. It is very deep and dear. One of my most favorite things in the entire world is to look into the woods. Silly, I know. I love to try to see the mysteries that are hidden in the trees. And in the winter, there are young birch trees that don't loose their leaves, they hang on all winter and drop off in the spring when the new buds push their way through. They are cream colored and stand out so strikingly against the deep brown bark of the older trees. I am delighted by them. That's how I feel about my melancholy, it delights me. I know to tomorrow I will feel another way, but today I am enjoying this.
Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature

Sunday, October 31, 2010


It has been a growthful month with much to do and much to ponder. I have felt overwhelmed at times with the amount that I needed to accomplish and then at times I felt incredible peace and pure joy.

Part of the reason that I am feeling a little overwhelmed is because I am taking a class in New York and I need to rearrange my work schedule to accommodate the four and half hour schlep back and forth into the city. Plus, I have two mentees to tend to, I have appointments with my supervisor and my spiritual counselor. I'm on the reunion committee and I'm on the alumni committee. I am a Deans' Assistant. Then there are all things that need taking care of at home- which isn't much of a home.

Here it is 4:30 in the morning and I am listening to my brother play the same six notes on the organ. I think I were to kill him at this moment, it would be considered justifiable homicide. He is the bane of my existence and I'm sure there is a karmic lesson that I need to work out with him...

The class I am taking is about the "The Cloud of The Unknowing." It has been an interesting month because of this reading. What I have really begun to own is my divinity. My oneness with God. And how far along this path I have already come. Now I know that smacks of ego, but it isn't ego. I am not comparing myself to others and where they are. I am just a little surprised that I have come so far. It is only by God's grace that I am here.

This book is interesting. It was written by a teacher teaching a pupil in the art of contemplative centering prayer. I haven't done centering prayer before and I find it somewhat challenging. Although last night, I sat down and I did it for forty-five minutes. It is like meditating, very similar, and I was able to maintain consciousness throughout, my mind however, just chattered away. I was able to transcend it for brief moments. It was really lovely and I will continue to practice this form of meditation.

However, my ah-ha moment came last week. I missed class because I had decided to stay home and participate in the webinar instead of doing the big schlep and then found that I could not sign into the webinar. It was very frustrating. Then that night I had a dream. It was one of "those" dreams that I have. In my dream, I was in class and my dear friend Sharon Spilkin came all the way from South Africa to be in the class. I was so surprised to see her at One Spirit. We were in class; I was looking at a small computer screen watching the class and I heard a booming voice say, "Look up!" I looked up and I was really surprised to see everyone, including Sharon looking at a computer screen. No one was looking at the class living class. Everything was grey and smokey. I said to Sharon, "Look up. You came all the way from South Africa and all you are doing is looking at a computer screen." Then I shouted to everyone, "Look up!" They did. Everyone looked around as if dazed.

But, while this was going on, there were two songs playing simultaneously in the background. One was a line from Neil Young's song "After the Gold Rush" and the other was Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah!" "Hallelujah!" played in its entirety. I word every word of it. From Neil Young's song the line "All in a dream" played over and over. It was then that I had my own "Hallelujah!" moment. 

In the song he talks about the nature of human suffering, how we bring it on ourselves. Part of the lyrics are, "...our love is not a victory march, it's a cold and broken Hallelujah." It's a song about the moment of release, sexual release and also spiritual surrender. 

I'm not sure I'm so taken with this song. It's a painful song and I have been listening to it ever since. I have been listening to K.D.Lang's version mostly, it's more musical than Leonard Cohen's and her voice is better.

Human suffering is part of life. We live - we suffer. But, much of our suffering is of our own doing. We are the architects of it. It is only when we are able to release does it end. It is that moment of surrender that is the Hallelujah moment. As we surrender and allow, that is the moment the Holy Spirit is able to move in and we have are able to have union with God. We can also do the same thing through joy. It doesn't only have to be brought on my suffering. The Holy Spirit can move through us in those moments of joy too. 

I used an image in one of my postings to the class website and I will use it here to stand as a metaphor for what I am trying to express. We are like a rock embedded in a stream. The water will flow no matter what, but we as the rock, sticking out above the water, cause the water to go around us. It rushes past us and as it does, it also carves us; wearing us down. We suffer. But, if the rock were to let go, just let go it would be free of the mud and float freely down the stream with the current. The struggle would end.

Bit by bit, I am growing. It's funny how little things show me the changes that have happened. I believe that God is calling to me. I reached out to God and he is answering. God is far more than any of us will ever be able to comprehend. God is a verb. God is now. Only now. And now. And now. And now again. It is moment by moment that we grow- that I grow. The words to a song have had a profound impact on me this week. Next week? Who knows? It might be another song, a poem, a squirrel, a crying baby. It could be an unspeakable tragedy or an amazing spiritual banquet. Life is an adventure and we are, as my friend Barry said so eloquently in class, "We are enfolded in God."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Sacred in The Ordinary

Once again it has been a while since I wrote. Life has been very busy, sometimes wonderfully busy, sometimes overwhelming, but always busy.

I went to the Art of Dying Conference last week in the Catskills. Oh my, the beauty of the retreat center where it was held was breath taking, inspiring and just plain cool. I loved the setting and did not what to leave... ever. The conference was excellent. Frank Ostaeski, Robert Thurman and Marianne Williamson were some of the presenters. I signed up for workshops with them and I was wowed by the depth of their knowledge and the care they gave to their presentations. Marianne Williamson was good, she seemed tired to me.

My favorite was Frank Ostaeski. He has such presence and compassion, it flows from him freely. He really inspired me. During the course of his talk he said something that has stayed with ever since. It was:

"The sacred is hidden in the ordinary."

The sacred is hidden in the ordinary. Slicing a tomato, petting your dog, a plastic water bottle laying in the street, a dying child, a dirty rag. It is all sacred. Everything we see, do touch, taste, hear feel is sacred. Everything is sacred.

This week I have tried to hold that thought in my head as move throughout my day... "the sacred is hidden in the ordinary." As I approached events, people, creatures, and objects I held the thought of their sacredness in my consciousness. Life became sacred. Interactions became sacred. It was an amazing practice and one that I will continue. It has made a big difference.

Another thing that Frank Ostaeski did was tell a story which I will retell here.

A few years back there was a man that started a new job with the phone company. He went to work placing telephone poles along a long stretch of road in Arizona. He was paired up working with a veteran at laying telephone poles. They were working together for a while and the new man on the job said, "I've been thinking- if this pole falls over it could kill me; if it starts to go, I'm gonna run like hell that way," and he pointed over his shoulder. The veteran just smiled and said, "Then you'd be dead." The new man asked him what he meant and the veteran said, "The safest place to be is right up at the pole. You place your hands on the pole and ride it out."  

The safest place to be is right up against the dangerous thing! Isn't that something to think about.

We all want to be healed of our suffering. We want to be whole and complete. It turns out that the safest place to be is sitting with your suffering; tasting it getting to know it- finding its source. It is in the knowing that you can let it go... riding it out like a falling telephone pole.

I have found that to be true in my life. Through self knowledge and accepting responsibility, I have found much peace. It has only happened when I didn't run away in fear, but I faced my problems head on, accepted the truth of my dilemma, surrendered to it and it is only then that obstacles fall away. 

Sounds so easy doesn't it?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

An Attitude of Gratitude

Voicing my gratitude for my many blessings is one of my most regular spiritual practices. Throughout the day many times I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my life and my journey. It is my belief that when we are able to realize our blessings and speak our gratitude our blessings increase... at least that has been my experience.

I began the practice of naming my gratitude about ten or twelve years ago. I started small and didn't do it regularly. It was very sporadic at best. Then about five years ago, things began to shift for us. It was then I realized that my acknowledging gratitude was an integral part of that shift. It's a long story and I won't go into it now, but we were going through a very rough patch, financially, emotionally and with each other. It was pretty bad. Desperate is a good word for it. Then there was a little movement and things changed a little bit for the better and I was very relieved and one night I expressed my gratitude to God. Very soon after that the changes kept coming and growing it was then that I realized the connection.

So, hence, now I am grateful for the gifts and the challenges too. I see how many of life's challenges are gifts that are yet unwrapped. So, I am especially grateful for them.

I don't usually post like this, but today I am going to post a list of the things that I am most grateful... things large and small.

I am grateful for:

My health
My daughter's health
My husband's health
My granddaughter's health
My son-in-law's health

This beautiful day which is just now coming to a close
My job (I love my job!)
My role at One Spirit
My teaching job
My car
My dog and cat
The trees outside my window
This beautiful Mother Earth
The smell of freshly mowed grass
My friends
The lessons I have learned
That I can afford to have my house cleaned
For the joy that my granddaughter gives
For dancing
Oh, for music, I can't forget music
For birds
For the food that I have to eat
For my bed
For the companionship of my husband
And the friendship of my daughter

I have been so blessed with all these things and more. Life has been like a tiny bud that is opening more and more. Thank you, God. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Germ of an Idea...

This how our journey to Israel began. I plan to write about our move to Israel over several posts. I may skip a post or two here or there when I feel the urge to write about other things, but as I am moved, I will describe the events leading up to our time in Israel and how it changed us forever.

One night about 24 or 25 years ago now, Jon, my husband couldn't sleep; he stayed up late and watched a movie before staggering to bed at about 3:00 AM. I was fast asleep having running around all day after our then seven or eight year old daughter. The details are sketchy now all these years later, my time frame may be a little off and my memories have faded a bit with time. 

This I remember with certainty, he stayed up late and watched a movie. And that movie changed our lives forever.

The next morning we had breakfast together as a family, it was just a normal breakfast. Afterwards, I was putting my daughter's coat on and giving her her lunch money She loved buying lunch at school rather than having me pack her lunch; it made her feel grown up to carry money and to pay for her lunch herself and she loved carrying a tray to her table.

I remember it clearly like it was yesterday, I was standing in front of the coat closet across from the dining room table where my husband was seated drinking his coffee. He said to me as I was about to walk Adrienne to the bus stop, "What would you think if we moved to Israel?" I said, "Are you out of your mind?" and walked out of the door to go to the bus stop.

When I came back in I asked him what he was talking about and it was then that he told me he had seen a movie the night before which got him to thinking. The movie was called "Goodbye, New York" or something to that effect. It was a movie about a young woman on her way to Paris for the summer. She falls asleep on the plane and someone steals her wallet with all of her money, passport, and papers. When the plane lands in Paris the stewardesses (yes, they were called stewardesses back then) forget to wake her up and she travels on to Tel Aviv were she is dumped without any of the proper documentation. 

This young girl is now stuck in Tel Aviv with no where to go but to kibbutz where she meets a dashing Israeli and falls madly in love. I never saw the movie, so I don't really know how it ends, but I assume that it has a happily-ever after ending and all is well. It sounds pretty dopey to me, but something in it struck my husband to his very core. 

It started my husband thinking about moving to Israel. Now we are Jewish, definitely secular, I'm a convert, Jon never took much of an interest in his religion beyond his heritage and he never considered Israel his homeland, but this movie caused him to think about moving to this God forsaken place. I laughed and told him he was out of his mind.

He said, "Wait, wait, think about it. A fresh start in a totally different place. New things to do. It would be an adventure." Again I laughed and told him, "No way."

He let the subject drop and didn't mention it again. Then a few days later I asked him if he was really seriously thinking about moving to Israel, and he said that it seemed like a good idea at the time. I asked him if this was something he had thought about before and he said no, it wasn't. But, Israel seemed so new and wide open and this appealed to him. I have to admit that I was excited by the thought of moving to the land of the dashing Ari from Exodus.

I was a convert and I had steeped myself in all things Jewish so that I could begin to develop an identity with my chosen people, part of that process for me was that I read many books about Jews, their history and some about Israel's inception. I have to admit the thought was beginning to excite me too.

The way we left it that day was that Jon would do a little research about the possibilities and see where we could find out more information about the country, the process of moving there and if it was really something we wanted to do. This was long before Google had been invented, so people way back then had to physically do the research themselves and there were no short cuts. He made phone calls.

Next: Aliyah? What's that? What's a Shillach anyway?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

City of Angels, Or is that Legions...

Last night I watched a movie. Jon is away, he is making his way home as I write, I was a little bored and looking for something to do. Who me meditate? No, I didn't meditate, I turned to Netflix and looked for a movie to watch instantly. One of the first ones I saw on the list was City of Angels. Now, I must be the only person alive that hasn't seen that movie, I haven't even seen little snippets of it here or there, nothing. However, I love the song in the Arms of the Angels and Uninvited and I knew both of them were in the movie. So, selected that one to watch.

Well, it was cute and a little predictable, but I enjoyed it. Normally I avoid Nicholas Cage movies, I don't think he is a great actor, he makes faces instead of acting. But, he was kind of cute when he was young. Meg Ryan is just too adorable for words. But, they were good together.

Dennis Franz's character was interesting. He is a fallen angel in the film. I'm not sure it was explained why he fell, but he is here and enjoying life. A true hedonist. He never lost his thirst for life after leaving behind his angel status. Although, it is clear that he misses his connection with God in the morning and at sunset.

Where do the people go after they die, they can't become angels, so what happens to them? Are they in some suspended limbo? That wasn't touched on really.

What I found disturbing is that it seems that the point of living is solely to indulge in the pleasure of the senses. We are put here to experience everything. To what purpose?

Now that I am writing this I see a correlation between this post and my last post. In my last post I said the that I cannot grasp after experiences, I need to just experience them and then let them go. Are we here to solely be little tasting, smelling, hearing, touching and seeing machines?

My first thought was that this movie was made during the hedonistic nineties, and everything back then was about the experience. But, I think that perhaps it's true. We are here to be God's sense organs. But, there is more to than just that, we are his hands (and his nose and his eyes and his taste buds). We are the whole ball of wax- We are God.

I know a woman who sees angels, Archangels no less. She is a psychologist, very well respected, successful, educated and all the things society says is good. But, she sees angels too. I went to a workshop or two that she has held. She always talks about "legions of angels," we are surrounded by legions of angels. That was the case in the movie last night, there were a lot of them. If this movie had been made today the angels would have been digitized, so there would have been many more of them on the screen I'm sure. But, I thought of this woman and her legions.

In her worshop she did a meditation to help us to see or feel the angels too. Now, I'm a pretty intuitive person and I can get into to it pretty quickly, but I was amazed at how quickly I felt these angels. She called in the Archangels and she placed one in each corner of the room for protection, she placed one above us and one below us. I have to say, that I felt these angels. They were huge, far bigger than the building we were in. Not only did I feel them, I saw them in a manner of speaking. I can't really say what they looked like, they were just beautiful. During the meditation she called in the legions. The angels filled the space. Not just the space in the room, but all of the space, inside me, around me, above me, below me... everywhere. I experienced them as balls of light, that isn't quite accurate, but it's close.

Years ago I heard about quarks. I think they are called quarks. Quarks are subatomic particles that make up protons and I think electrons. They are everywhere, they travel at phenomenal speeds and they combine to make up protons. Now, I have no idea what any of that means, but when I first heard that quarks were discovered, I felt that we have discovered God. Now, I'm inclined to think that we discovered angels. No, no, I mean neutrinos. Neutrinos travel at the speed of light and can pass through anything. They are all around us and everywhere just like the angels in the movie last night. Legions of neutrinos.

We don't know if any of this is true, are there really angels? I tend to think so. Someone could ask then why is there so much suffering? I don't know the answer to that except to say that from the depths of suffering we learn so much, grace can be felt, growth can happen. But, couldn't we learn the same things from joy? My answer is I have no answers. Only questions.

My counselee had a vision one day in the depths of her despair, she saw a beautiful white wing. It was huge taking up the whole window, which was a huge old window in a library. She knew this wing to be God's grace protecting her. I am sure that this wing has seen her through many dark days, even before she felt its presence. Many times I have told her to relax into this wing; "allow it to support you."

I can't see the legions of angels, but I believe they are there. Quiet now, can you feel them? Relax and feel their soft wings to brush against your skin.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

All Things Must Pass

Some time ago I wrote a post about traveling down the road. I haven't gone back to reread that post, and perhaps maybe I should, but then again, maybe I shouldn't read it until after I write this and then compare the two.

In my job I drive around a lot... a whole lot. Now, I love to drive. I love being in the car with the windows open with air rushing in making a total wreck of my hair. Some times I blast my music and some times I relish the silence. I eat lunch in my car almost every day, I usually park my car at the park, in the shade under a big ol' tree. The setting changes from day to day, the parameters do not. After lunch quite often I take a nap before I go back to work. It has become a ritual.

In the mornings on my way to the office I always take the long way around and drive through the park. It is a small park, there is a small river with grass and trees lining either side of the river. Nothing fancy, not very big, but the road along side the river is lined with huge old growth trees on both sides of the road. Of course, there are the rich people's homes beyond the trees, but I don't normally focus on them. I watch the trees.

I watch the trees. The trees and the road have taught me a lesson about life.

Now it may be obvious to most, but for me it was a powerful lesson. As I drove down this road in the park, I was struck that the trees just glide by. One comes into my line of vision, approaches, is right here in front of me, along side me, and then is gone; it leaves my line of vision. It is followed by the next tree and then the next. 

I cannot grasp the tree. If I did I would be yanked out of the car, or break my arm. There is no way that I can hold on to the tree as I drive by it. If I stop the car and hold onto the tree my forward motion has stopped- I go nowhere. To get to my office, I have to allow the trees to come and go. I have to move past them, immediately without ever grabbing so much of a leaf.

This is life, isn't it? All things must pass, to quote George Harrison. We can hold on to nothing. We must let go. When we grasp on to anything, it breaks our arm, stops our journey, and mires us down in the muck.

But, here is the really important lesson that I have learn from the trees... I can never have them. As I pass them I don't ever have them. The tree doesn't pause for even a nanno second, it just goes by without ever stopping, even for a moment. It is gone as fast as it came.

So, what does that mean? It means I can't hold on to anything, any experience, any person. Anything. Ever.

A few years ago my husband gave me the gift of a wonderful massage at a swanky day spa. It was fabulous. There were hot rocks and a massage followed by a one hour facial. It was to die for. Seriously. It was one of the most sensuous experiences of my life. The whole time I was on the table I was thinking, "Oh my God, I could spend my life like this. I don't want it to ever end." I was mourning the loss of this massage even before it was over. After it was over, I realized that I missed most of it because I was so focused on my loss... even before it happened. I missed the experience of the massage because I was stuck in my head.

I vowed that if I ever got another chance at this I was going to allow it to happen and let go of the thoughts of the ending.

Well, I was lucky, my husband signed me up for another massage at this spa again several months later. He's a good husband.

Anyway, this time I went in. It was fabulous again and again I started dwelling in my head. But, this time I stopped it. I stopped the thoughts and the mourning and I consciously focused on the massage that was happening now. I loved it. It was even better than the first time. I felt every movement and pleasure. I felt the warmth of the stones on my back as she massage my feet. I felt the steam opening my pores during the facial and smelled the cream as it softened my skin.

I remembered from the time before that it was coming to an end when she massaged my hands, but this time I was ready. I felt complete because I experienced the whole thing. I knew that someday I would have another massage, this wasn't the end. But, if it was, I had experienced it. I was present. So, if it really was the last massage that I would ever have, I had it, I own it because I really experienced it. I had it because I let it go.

This is what I experience on my drive to work. Each tree is exquisitely beautiful, the morning light shimmers in their leaves, but I can't own that moment, I can only experience it and let it go and move on to the next exquisite moment.

All that I can do is enjoy it as it goes by.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Last night I was talking to Jon about the angst I have been feeling; those feelings that were stirred up after seeing Eat Pray Love. I'm still not sure what that's all about. I need to really look at that. It's funny, you think that you are sailing along, everything is great- you are an enlightened being and then an issue pops up; something you think you've handled before, and there it is again. Only this time, it's deeper or another aspect of your issue. But, there it is staring you in the face again. I just have to laugh. It happens time and again. I think I have it handled and then there it is... again.

That's what I am feeling. I feel stirred up again about this issue of recognition. At least that's what I think I am feeling.

But, this isn't what I wanted to write about today... because of being confronted by my stuff again. I stopped and looked at my life. I am amazed, really amazed and awed, by the changes in my life and in my husband's life. Yesterday, I paused long enough to look backwards. I was awed by what I saw. Five years ago, we were different people than we are now. The change is incredible. We were struggling emotionally and financially. Neither one of us lived up to our potential. We had issues with our families. Both of us suffered abuse as children and we never moved past it. But, then Jon's parents died and things began to shift. Jon went into a deep depression that took two years to climb out of it. Their deaths was the beginning of our metamorphosis.

Prior to that I began searching for meaning. I began to pray. I began positive affirmations. I didn't really think they would work, but I did them. This is the seed of our transformation. I came to believe that they would work and that's when things really shifted. However, I knocked on the door and it was opened wide for me by the Divine. I just needed to believe.

About ten years ago, during a meditation, I saw myself on a dirt road. The incredibly, I turned my head all the way around and I saw that everything in my life brought right to where I was standing. It was a profound moment and I think of it often, but it's full meaning hasn't been completely known until yesterday.

I have been searching for and hoping that I will feel God's presence. That I will have one of those mystical experiences where I can touch God's face.

Yesterday I had that experience. I had it when I looked behind me and I saw where I had come from. The difference between me today and me five years ago is unbelievable. I am different. I know that I am worthy, I know that I have a lot to offer the world. I have gifts beyond measure. I am lovable and I love. Compassion has blossomed. It's wonderful. And that is where I felt God's presence. I see God's hand in the changes that I've made. I see God in the chance meetings and happenings that have brought good things into my life. I see it all. I had a mystical experience, it was happening all along. God has led me right to here and that is a wonderful place to be. 

Thank you for my life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Search For Me

I saw 'Eat Pray Love' the other day. I love the book; the movie, not so much. It was too long and I feel that too much emphasis was put on her pre-traveling days and yet I only knew of her problems because I had read the book. Then her time in India was given short shrift. While there in meditation she had a realization of God Consciousness, and that was just glossed over, by just showing her with a big smile on her face. Again, I knew that because I had read the book. 

I was disappointed. 

Plus, I went to a matinee on a Monday, the ticket was $9.00. Which was okay, I thought, but then I bought a small popcorn and a small bottle of water... $9.25. I thought that was obscene! The bottle of filtered water cost $3.75! In the convenience store the same bottle is $.99, Just nuts.

It was fun to be alone in the darkened movie theatre with just a few other people, most of them women. I enjoyed the alone time. But, the point of this post is not about the popcorn or even the movie. Since I saw the movie and while I was watching, I feel tears welling up in me every time I hear the word transformation, or transformative experiences. Why?Is it because Elizabeth Gilbert transformed in a huge way. She gained fame, love and recognition? 

I have transformed, am I feeling that my work, my transformation isn't enough or good enough? 

Looking at it written here it sounds silly and like my ego is raging. Maybe it is. I want to write a book, of course, I don't even sit my butt down and start. Well, I have started writing, I just don't finish. I get to a point and can't seem to move past that point. I am gentle with myself and don't beat myself up about it. I try to have compassion for myself. Still I don't continue.

I have transformed. I am not the same person I was eight years ago. I have achieved a lot in those years. I have done a lot of work on myself, I fought the good fight. I am different. More compassionate, I laugh a lot, I have fun. I work hard. My entire outlook on life and God and Love and life is different. I am evolving.

So, why do I tear up when I hear about transformation associated with this movie? This is my question for the day, I suppose. I will meditate on it. 

Meanwhile, I will allow Spirit to move through me, doing its work. I am open to Spirit and God to move through me. I allow transformation. I am evolving, growing and transforming. I am... I am.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Joy is Our Natural State

The other day I felt so over flowing with joy. It was an absolutely beautiful feeling. The entire world sparkled and shimmered. I felt like giggling over nothing and everything. What an amazing feeling! It was great.

Why can't those feelings last? I feel kind of punky today and a little crabby and coming off the feelings of joy, my little crabby has taken on a life of its own.

My Monday morning prayer call makes me feel wonderful and connected and at the same time there is a disconnect that takes place within me. It's a strange sensation. I must really love this call because I call every week and rarely miss one. Yet this feeling of disconnect happens every time. It's strange to watch it happen.

The wonderful thing about it all is is that I observe it happening inside me. I feel the disconnect and I watch it move through my body. Click... I've hit the off switch. I see happening and yet it is not part of me. It is some how separate from my experience. There is a part of me that is never touched and always constant it whole and perfect.

It is happening more and more that I experience what is happening around me and yet I am untouched by it.


The love I feel for my life, my family, my friends, my community, my work, my body, my home, my being is incredible. I am blessed. I am blessed. I am blessed. So, maybe I'm not all that disconnected afterall. Perhaps being on the phone for two hours is the primary source of my annoyance. Could be.

I have a cold that is hanging on for dear life. It seems to have left my head and is drifting down towards my chest. It has been hanging on for over two weeks now and it is annoying. I want to go to the movies today, but I worry that I am going to hack my way through it and disturb the folks sitting around me. What to do, what to do? I'm going. I'll get some cough drops before I go and suck my way through the movie.

My main revelation this week is just this simple feeling of joy. I believe that this joy has always been present, it has just been covered over by all the crap that I have wrapped myself in for all these years. Problems and difficulties are illusion of my own creation. As soon as I began to unravel them, joy began to peek through.

I am so struck as I do my work in hospice that old people are cloaked in these illusions; you can hear the unending tape repeating itself through their dementia. The issues and problems, repeat themselves over and over as they speak. Oh, the words may change, but the tape keeps replaying the same old song. They have probably sung this song all their lives. And now at the end of their lives they cannot change it or do anything differently. The pattern is carved in stone. But, if it were possible to unravel it, joy would peek through.
Joy is our natural state. Look at any toddler and tell me that isn't so. It is only as the psychological injuries and hurts get heaped on does our joy begin to fade. We begin to conform to what is expected of us. Comply to survive. And the voice of joy begins to diminish.

Go play today. Even if you have to work. Play. Watch your breath. Look at the clouds. Be with a child and listen to them. See their joy and know that this is your birthright too. We are joy. Our natural state is joy. it is your natural state too.

Enjoy. No matter what you must do today, even if it is just for a moment or two, enjoy. Breathe. You are alive. And that is enough.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Live Life Now

Sometimes when I am writing here I am aware that that I sound like I am ranting and raving, looking under every rock for a peek at God, and in many ways, I suppose I am. I know that I am searching for answers and meaning to life. It is natural when a person is no longer young and the fact of aging begins to make itself known and the possibility of lying to yourself becomes harder and harder; your mortality makes itself known. You are going to die. I am going to die.

Working with hospice has really helped me recognize my own mortality- I am going to die. So, what does that mean? What does life mean? Is there a purpose to it all? Well, I'm sure there is a purpose to it. I just haven't figured it all out and I doubt that I will.

But, this much I know is true, life is meant to be lived. Many people die without every living. Many people are so afraid, afraid of rejection, afraid of pain, afraid of looking like a fool, afraid of failure, afraid of ridicule, afraid of dying, so afraid of life that they don't every live. They exist and never know that there is anything more. I don't mean that you have to climb Mount Everest or make a solo flight over the Atlantic, although those things are exhilarating for sure. We just need to experience life... now.

In the opera Tosca, the hero Mario Cavaradossi, is condemned to die. He is in prison looking through the window at the night sky; he sings of the beauty of the stars and the earth and he says, "And desperately I die. And never before have I loved so much." Many of us wait until we hear a terrible diagnosis and prognosis before we begin to fully appreciate life and those we love. We are so tangled in our fears that we never see the truth of what is right in front of us the whole time: Life is meant to be experienced. And the only way to do that is to be here now. Not caught up in thought worrying about things that haven't happened yet or what might have been, but living life now, as it is. As it is with all of the messiness and meanness and pain. When we can feel our pain, experience our hurts we also clear the way for feeling our joys, our triumphs and our love.

Many years ago, I was really lost, at least I thought I was. I was disappointed that I didn't have a big career, I was upset that I didn't live up to what I thought I should have. You realize that all of these thoughts of failure were all my own thoughts. No one was judging me but me. Anyway, I was sitting outside of my parents place in Florida, looking at the seagulls and pelicans, enjoying the late afternoon breeze. In that moment, I felt great peace and joy. It was perfect. I said to my father, "What is so wrong with just sitting here and watching life go by?" Of course, I got the answer that we are meant to accomplish something with our lives, we need to make something of ourselves, etc. Well, that question has stayed with me all these years and I have come to the conclusion that I knew the answer all along. We are meant to experience life right now and that means being. Being just as you are, seeing life just as it is and accepting everything for the perfection that it is; even the ugly and painful parts. Then we experience life, we live our lives to the fullest.

Of course, you can climb Mt Everest or fly across the Atlantic in a Piper Cub. I want to see the Himalayas, I want to travel the Inland Waterways, I want live in a silent retreat for a year and work for children in Africa. I dream of doing these things. But even if I never get to do these things, it doesn't change the fact that I have lived my life. Because all those years ago when I asked my father my question and he gave me that answer, I knew deep within me that watching life go by, experiencing it and being a participant as well as the observer was the true meaning for me. I know that I don't have to wait until I am condemned to die like Mario Cavaradossi to look out of my prison window and say, "Never have I loved so much."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Jews For Jesus

This is a post that I wrote more than a month ago. As I said in my previous post, I couldn't figure out how to change my blog to suit the new format. It turns out that it was very easy, I just needed to take the time to work my way through it. So, this is one of the posts I did not post during that period. I happen to like this post. So here it is:

Well, it's 1:30 in the morning and I can't sleep... again. Last night I was up for about four hours and tonight it looks like it's going to be the same deal again; which is weird since I was so sick on Monday. I'm tired, I'm just not sleeping. Sleepless in New Jersey, it almost sounds like the title to a movie... or not.

I haven't written in a long time. I'm not sure why. I just haven't. There have been changes to Blogspot, and besides that, I seem to be going through something again. I don't meditate any longer. I'm not interested in the machinations of my meditation group anymore, all they do is obscure the quest so they don't have to do the work. I don't really want to participate in anything at my seminary. I'm over Spiritual Counseling. I'm thinking about signing up for CPE training, but the thought of all those hours is daunting.

I can't let my feelings towards my brother go. A woman that I work with has me bugged. She is a Jesus freak and she hasn't a clue... A Jew for Jesus no less. Which I don't get, if you are a Jew for Jesus why not just call yourself a Christian and be done with it? Generally, Christians don't seem to understand Jesus' message and she is worse than most. When I first met her, I actually heard her introduce herself to another person as a "Hebrew." As an Israeli, I almost choked! Then she looked at me and corrected herself in mid-sentence, but the damage was done... I knew she was a freak from that moment on. Her mother must be so proud.

I was allowed in the "Inner Sanctum" at seminary and I now see clearly that they are all co-dependent and dysfunctional. I thought they were paragons and ideals. It makes me sad, really. The people at my seminary, it turns out, are just people and not gods.

And I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

So, I am going through yet another phase. This is the "Burned Out, What's the Point?" phase, I suppose. I am burned out. Even the thought of going to New York twice a month as a Deans' Assistant is bumming me out.

But, here's the thing, all of the above is true. I am burned out. I'm tired. Living here is weighing heavily. And I am suffering from a lack of faith, maybe as well as a lack of privacy. The other day I read something that really hit home. I'm reading the book "Passionate Presence" by Catherine Ingram. It's a wonderful book, in it she says that we all have attachments (nothing new there), but even wanting to know God is an attachment. I never thought of that before. I was so busy ridding myself of all my attachments so that I might know God a little better and here I am making new attachments for myself.

I have worked hard to let go of my displeasure at living here in my childhood home with all of the unpleasant associations and even that is yet another attachment! Shit. Does this mean that everything in life is an attachment? It's a ball of rubber bands that cannot be unwound. I'm hopelessly lost.

I long to feel God's presence. I don't meditate any longer because I feel like it's a waste of time; all I do is fall asleep. I do God's work and I must admit that sometimes when I am with a patient, I feel God moving through me to help them; to be what they need in that moment. Those are the moments I long for. But, they are brief moments that are gone too soon.

Part of the reason I love my seminary so much is that while I am there I feel such an incredible connection to spirit, to other people, to God. Does the fact that they are a dysfunctional group lessen my experience? Is it a bogus sham and I am a helpless pawn? Gees, I hope not.

It seems that I am whining a lot tonight. I am casting about for answers. Answers that are no answers.

When I am sitting in the park, eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and the birds are flying and the squirrels are scavenging, the clouds are drifting by reflected in the brown water of the flowing river I feel connected to all that is. We are all doing it together. We are being together. We are God.

All the rest is shit.

Why can't I stay there? Why can't I sleep? Why does faith have to be so hard? Does this trashing about have a purpose? If so, I can't fathom it. Maybe God has a sense of humor and enjoys our chest grabbing and brow beating. Maybe that's why God invented Jews for Jesus, he needed a good laugh.