Friday, October 29, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Mr. Jeffrey reached into his backpack and showed me his variegated rubber-band Faith Ball -- the size of a child's soccer ball. I held it in my hands and felt the weight of his belief.
Two years ago he became homeless and collected rubber bands to literally hold onto his faith during this tumultuous storm. Today, Mr. Jeffrey has a room of his own, thanks to Friendship Place, a community homeless outreach
center in Washington, D.C.
"God made me homeless to make me humble," he asserted to our sixth grade religious school students. "I never thought I would be homeless, and I will never look at a homeless person in the same way again."
He stopped speaking and surveyed the crowd of fifteen Jewish teenagers.
"You probably understand what it is like to be homeless. After all, the Jews wandered in the desert for forty years: The Israelites were homeless all that time."
Friday, October 15, 2010
All 33 miners made aliyah from the bowels of the earth to the surface of the Chilean desert. My spirit was uplifted as they were lifted to safety in a man-made rocket ship created for this unprecedented rescue.
The descent and the ascent had all the makings of a biblical story and the inner journeys of many of our biblical heroes, such as Abraham, Jacob, Jonah and Moses.
Some journeys are chosen, and some are chosen for us. Our Kabbalists say all journeys have the power to elevate our self-awareness to our "human-being-ness."
We have ascended with the miners. We have witnessed a miracle no different than the splitting of the Red Sea.
In the 43rd Psalm the question is asked: Who will ascend into the hill of the Divine? And who will stand in His Holy place?
The Sages respond by commenting that while ascending is important, the real measure of a person's devotion is his "standing" before the Divine after having completed the ascent.
Several of the miners walked out of the "Phoenix" and fell to their knees in prayer.
They knew that the journey towards the Divine is the beginning of their self-awareness.
Where will we and they stand now that we have experienced this minor miracle? What will we stand for? Whom will we stand with? What is the next step in our spiritual formation?
Friday, October 8, 2010
No one sat on the gray speckled marble bench that adorned the family plot at the Cedar Park cemetery in Westwood, New Jersey. No names were engraved on this seated tombstone. A string of Hebrew words etched on the side of the bench read, “In memory of those who died in the Holocaust.”
From the time I was eight years old, I remember making the family’s annual pilgrimage to honor our dead ancestors. I focused only on the empty bench. My imagination soared upon visual contact.
The bench held the extended family I never met and never mourned. Each year more people joined my made-up group portrait as the stories from the past surfaced into the family's history. The cousins sat side by side waiting for the instructions from the elders about their reserved seating arrangement. I pondered their question in wonderland: Who would sit next to whom?
The dead aunt insisted on being next to the descendant that bore her name. In silence, the grandfather huddled with the grandchildren he never knew. A married couple stared into their own future and created two children licking lollipops.
After many decades, the bench disintegrated. After much discussion and conflict, we sprinkled the speckled silver marble pieces among the family graves.
Today, the spirits of those who died in the Holocaust protect the graves of my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and finally my own parents. The vacuum of my descendants has been filled with memories of those we loved and lost and never knew and never mourned.
Friday, October 1, 2010
I received two gifts in two weeks.
Neither of which I expected.
One ... a gift of thanksgiving.
One ... a gift of friendship.
Both arrived in my heart’s only inbox from two already-opened hearts.
Both were starred and made a priority.
An artist’s handmade bronze goblet entitled: Miriam.
A gift certificate to my friend’s favorite masseuse.
One is material yet spiritual.
One is physical and integral.
Both came from a wellspring of generosity.
Both contained love.