I often find phrases that I love, whether in books or on film, in lyrics to a song or poems of old or new. And these words strung together, they capture the essence of what I feel inside of myself. Words created in such a way as to connote the images I seek, the messages I hunger for, the lessons I wish to master and to share with others, too.
These words that I found in this book of prayer on this day became my writing for today the instant that I saw them on the page. And so I took a photo of the text so I would know exactly what is written and could then write about them here.
I like the way the photograph captures the words against the curve of the page. How the words rise oh so slightly so that the sentences flow as if there is a slight wave to them. Perhaps they are resting on an almost calm sea and if I were to take a second photograph a few seconds later the rise of some of these words would be different. And so there is movement to the eye just as there is action from the words.
I found these words in a prayer book last week.
I was in temple. For Rosh Hashanah. The New Year. I have been going to temple with my parents these last few years. Making the trip back east from my west coast life to spend time each fall amidst the sweetly turning leaves of New England and the sweet and lovely faces of my mom and dad.
My priority is to be able to go with them to Kol Nidre. The night before the day of Yom Kippur, the holiest of days and the end of the ten days that is the start of the new year. Because of my longer visits this year, and last, I was able to be at both the beginning and will also be at the end of the ten day celebration that are these high holy days.
And so there I was just this last week, swaying to the music I love best from ancient times, with tunes sometimes made modern but just as often left as is and sung in deep and melodic strains. I sway and sing and listen when works are spoken from the heart or read aloud from the prayer book that lead us through the service. Sometimes I will read along. Sometimes. Often I just listen. Taking in the words without reading them is more meditative for me. The ebb and flow of Rabbi to congregation and then back again, the pauses to let music and song enter the service and those moments of silence that allow for us all to reflect on the connection we seek and which we have here in this place that is of our blood and skin.
But when I do glance down at my mother or father's book, held in their hands and often angled my way just in case i want to peek at the words that are written to be spoken out loud, sometimes I find a passage that lingers with me. Words that answer a question that I didn't know I had or spark a belief that hadn't yet become clear to me or capture a commitment that I am soon to make. And so it was that I found this passage, quickly read before the Rabbi spoke it aloud to us.
It matters little whether you speak out God's name, or Spirit, Source or Oneness. The message is the same. The divine flows through us and as such, the power of the divine is us - our best parts and our worst.
If you want to see God save the innocent, you must get off the couch and save the innocent. If you want to see God feed the hungry, you need to feed the hungry. If you want to see God stand by while innocent suffer, all you need to do is stand by and do nothing yourself.
As storms raged across the country - and across the world, too - we were in Barbados. I had a moment (ok more) of feeling a bit off that we were heading to this idyllic island while floods and fires flew over the land but still we went. It was a trip planned many months ago. A business trip for my husband that he invited me to tag along. And so off we went after a cancelled plane reservation through Miami (of course it was cancelled) and a bit of a longer trip through JFK.
This was truly a mini vacation for my husband, who worked for three out of the six days that we were there yet still felt rested from the time off. And a true vacation for me that offered pinky white sand, warm ocean water (yes, I swam each day...for those that do not know me this is a big deal!), the fresh and daily catch of the day for both lunch and dinner and a seemingly infinite supply of already read and loved and then left behind books in the hotel "library" that I visiting each day. I read a book a day.
I read fast.
I always have. It is a funny way of reading. A taking in of the entire page as my eyes rest on it before starting at the top and reading through. I didn't realize, when I was younger, that I read this way. I thought I was just extremely intuitive since, as I was reading, I was thinking I know this already, have I read this book before? but then I had a conversation with a cousin (once or twice removed and maybe a second cousin, too) who said he does the same thing. A glancing at the page and then a fast reading of the text and so a knowing of the words even as you read them for the first time.
It makes books go by too fast.
I notice this sometimes, not when the story is really good but when the words are really beautiful. When the story is great I cannot get to it fast enough and so this speed reading that I do is the perfect thing. I want to know "right now" what is going to happen and so want to get through this book "right now", too. But when the words are full and pure and pull together in that way that is just as much poetry and prose, when the images that spring forth are rich in my minds eye and I can taste the sweetness of the dance across the page as though the simple black on white text is actually full of color and texture and beauty, well then I wish I could slow down.
I try to.
When I realize, half way through a page that the beginning needs to be revisiting because I missed the wonder of the words in my haste to find the what of the story, I catch myself and I go back. I read a line again. I sit with the dance of the words across my mind. Maybe I speak them silently, too. And I might, often more than not, reread and reread again a simple phrase that is more art than words.
Though words are art, I know.
I originally wrote this post on November 23, 2015. I am not sure what was happening at that time in these worlds we live in. I know that I was in Colorado. Crested Butte. Home of great mountain skiing, a sweet and small town and my older sister and her family. It was another, yearly-and-we-are-together- again Thanksgiving where we all - as in me and my husband and kids, and my sisters and their husbands and kids and my parents - all come together to be together on this favorite of holidays each year. And this year, 2015, as we were together something must have been brewing in the air and the earth and my heart because I wrote this piece that I am re-sharing today.
I googled it.
As in what happened in November, 2015, to see if I could see what it was that brought forth the writing that I wrote at that time. Where did the pain first come from? What piece of information seeped under my skin? Why was it right at that time, that I wrote this piece? And so I looked for past news and found more of what I see now. Shootings and looting. Extreme weather and extreme violence. Intolerance and misunderstanding and blame.
And so it is again. But worse it seems. The earth is crying her deep tears as she wipes away the stains on her skin and the scars to her soul. She pours water deep under our cover and we band together to survive her wrath. She scatters her dry and brittle leaves to feed the flames of her fury and we comfort each other as our lives go up in smoke. And she floods small villages - and big cities, too - as we hold each other's hands and hearts and help each other to find dry land.
This is mother nature at her best. She is tired. And sick. Sick and tired and fed up. And she is calling to us. She knows her power is our call to action and we take up the challenge and survive only to fall back again into habits that hurt (our) humanity. I wonder how many times she will have to do this before she can rest, knowing we have finally learned the lessons that are buried in the dirt.
It's Time (Again) To Save (Our) Humanity
November 23, 2015
I have been thinking a lot about the pain that surrounds us these days. Whether the violence that has hit upon every shore of every country, the silent weeping of birds and beast, or the deep, soft murmur that echoes from the earth as her essence is ignored and we soil her skin.
At first, this pain, it pained me. To the extent that I could not take it in. It was too much. The news hurt my soul. The information was toxic to my spirit. My skin, like the earth, was tender. And so I shut it down. I stopped letting the information in. I checked out. And felt, for a short but sweet time (or so it seemed sweet in the moment of it) that I was separate from it all. And so safe.
But this is not my truth.
It was merely a temporary rest. A getting ready. For my opportunity to save myself. I know this. I know this. From deep down inside myself I know that this is true.
Because what is really going on, whether man against man, against beast, against earth, it is a trigger for us to tap into our higher selves. To rediscover our connection to each other and to spirit, god, one. Call it what resonates within you. but let it resonate within you. Because this is what this time is. It is not about saving others. It is about saving ourselves. It is about finding our true essence. Embracing our beauty. Seeing our potential. Our power. Our grace. Our love.
And so when you see the news on the television, in the papers, on the ever-in-use computer, see it for what it is. A wake up call. Our wake up call. A kick to our soul's ass into getting going again.
The world - earth and animal and air - it has aligned again to move us to see the work we need to do. Because we have lost ourselves. And the little reminders, they are not working anymore. We need something big. Something our bodies and our minds and our egos can not ignore. Something that shocks us so we can get out of our own way. So that we see again. So that we wake up. And so the universe - spirit, god, one - it is waking us up.
If we believe, as I believe, that we are here, in this physical body on this sweet, soft ground called earth, to reach our fullest potential - find our true power, embrace the light within ourselves - then we can see clearly that all of this, the mess of it, the pain and sorrow and loss of it, it is here before us to move us forward towards the place where we are journeying.
And at this moment when we rediscover ourselves we will remember each other. And see (again) that we are not alone on this journey. That we are connected. To each other. That we have been connected all along.
All of us.
The photo attached to this writing today is a painting my youngest daughter made and gifted me.
When I thought about what I wanted to write about today, I could not visualize an image to illustrate what I wanted to say. I wanted something to capture this feeling of impermanence, of losing footing, of being cut off and floating in space.
And then I looked more closely at this painting. At the petals seeming to find root at the base while scattered in the air, too. But not really scattered. Because they are orderly and contained even as they are detached from the earth. And so it is with the 800,000 plus young people who have benefited from the DACA program.
But let me start in a different way.
Today is Labor Day. The end of summer holiday that most of us have forgotten is more than just a last picnic before back to school and back to a full work week and back to the colder weather and warmer sweaters and don't wear those white shoes until Memorial Day in May.
Today is also the day after the day Donald Trump announced that he would be discontinuing DACA - Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals - a program that protects undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children from deportation and grants them eligibility for a work permit.
I saw an amazing play about just this. This past Friday. At the Ensemble Studio Theater at Atwater Village. The play is called Wet, and is a one- man, written word, poetic and powerful, insightful and raw piece of theater that called to me to stand with this actor as he shared his truths and wore his struggles for all of us to see.
Questions were raised and answered in rhyme and rap and language sweet with imagery. Who are we if it is not documented that we belong? How to we keep our footing if our tracks cannot leave marks that we are here? Where do we belong if where we grew is not the place where we were born? And how do we create stability when the only place we call home keeps changing the rules?
This play has been extended. You should go see it if you can. For me, to witness what is happening not on the news and in the papers, at a distance and so at arms length, but in an intimate theater where the truth sits right in front of me makes the conversation different now.
And the conversation today is that we are celebrating our workforce while beginning the process of decimating a vital section of our work force. Labor day is an honoring of our worker. Not the individual, but what workers accomplish together through activism and organizing. It is a celebration of the labor movement's foundational values of self-determination and self-reliance. These very qualities that describe the 800,000 plus young people who will be so adversely hurt by the dismantling of DACA.
Do you see the irony here?
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