Grateful to the angel

ב׳׳ה

Rabbi Simon said,  

“There is no plant without an angel in Heaven tending it and telling it, ‘Grow!'”

Genesis Rabba 10:7. 

A couple of months ago, there was a small thistle plant near the back gate of my patio.  And I was going to pull it out, as my boys and I use the back gate to access community green space and tennis courts.  But then, one morning, I noticed a rabbit eating the thistle plant’s leaves, and I decided we humans could step around the little thistle.  

Rabbit leaving after a thistle snack

Then, as the thistle grew and we began to get scratched on thorns when we used the door, baby rabbits began to visit, so I absolutely could not remove the “weeds” that were attracting them!!!  

Baby rabbit

After much rain and sun, and the urging of its angel in Heaven, the thistle now covers most of the walkway and is five feet (1.5 m) tall!  

And it blooms really beautiful purple flowers that attract hummingbirds and bees to drink from them…

And a rabbit still visits regularly, although I’m not sure if it’s the original adult or a grow-up baby…


My lease requires me to “maintain” my patio area, so I’m expecting my landlord to stop by one of these days and demand that I remove the thistle.  I doubt she would be swayed by my story of rabbits and the thistle’s angel in Heaven… but until it’s required, I’ll going to keep thanking the angel who grew the thistle that has brought so much beauty and life to our patio this summer!

shavua tov, a good week, to all, jen

“Prayerless Prayer”

ב׳׳ה

The other day, when I read “Prayerless prayer,” a post by Didi, I was reminded of a saying attributed to Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vorki (1819-1868), who practiced silence and didn’t always answer questions. When he was asked how “true Jews” should behave or could be recognized, Rabbi Menachem Mendel replied: “upright kneeling, silent screaming, motionless dance.”

“Upright kneeling” reminds us that, wherever we are standing and whatever we are doing, we remain in the presence of Gd, and therefore our hearts should be kneeling humbly before our Creator.

“Silent screaming” reminds us that we need not scream aloud for Gd to hear our cries in the face of injustice or agony, because Gd hears our crying, and can bring us comfort, even when we make no sound. All we need do is think the thoughts, and Gd has heard them!

Finally, “motionless dance” is the idea that life is meant to be celebrated, and we should be grateful, happy, and enjoying the goodness that continues to exist, even when life’s details aren’t perfect. So although our bodies may be still, our hearts constantly should be dancing in celebration of our presence in the miracle that is Creation.

Like Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vorki, Didi juxtaposes an act and its opposite to remind us where the spiritual path can lead us — to a place where our every action is a offering to The One, before whom our hearts are kneeled, as we silently celebrate the mystery and grandeur of our Gd.

Please take a look at Didi’s post.

This Shabbat, may Didi and Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vorki inspire us to new depths of service to The One.

Shabbat shalom to all, jen

Dust and Ashes

ב׳׳ה

Dust and Ashes
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I’m just dust and ashes, but this world WAS made for me! When my fear is out of the way, I’m able to see the pattern in the process, the rhythm of the rhyme, Hashem bringing what I need when it’s truly time for me to grow or to “shed another skin,” so I’ll keep “digging this well,” until this body’s just dust again!!
 

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Rabbi Simcha taught we should keep a strip of paper in each pocket of our pants — one to remind us (when we feel arrogant) that we are just dust and ashes, and the other to remind us (when we feel down) that the world was created just for us.  

This Shabbat, let’s imagine holding both of those strips of paper at once. Let’s each remain certain that we are only dust and ashes, while also having no doubt that we have a unique, infinitely important role to play in the miracle that is Creation’s unfolding… for there, balancing both, is where we can find holiness.  

shabbat shalom to all, jen

HaMakom (“the place”)

ב׳׳ה



HaMakom
(“The Place”)

How can I express
what it is to experience
floating in “The Place” with no words,
where all discord harmonizes
into one perfect Unity and
The Mystery calls me its own Name?

To be in HaMakom
where there is only breathing
(and the One breathing is not mortal-me)
is to be transported
beyond time and space,
to where souls once were and will be.

There’s no need for signposts.
Past and future irrelevant,
transfixed in the Eternity of Now.
No directions to wander
when diffused through Infinity.
Nor feet that could touch solid ground.

There I’m forever,
no beginning or ending,
Eternal-Infinite breathing The Name.
I return awestruck and giddy,
with joy and peace overflowing,
mortal-me again forever changed.
 
 

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HaMakom
is Hebrew and literally means “the place.”  However, it is also a name for Gd.  And, as there is no place without Gd, any place can be The Place, if we are willing to open our hearts so that our eyes might see and our ears might hear. 

shavua tov, jen

Dance, Vol. 2

ב׳׳ה

water heater closet & fan under carpet


Yesterday morning I wrote: 

…whatever life throws at you, for the love of Gd, DANCE!!!

So, G-d, the Universe, karma, the Unity, (whatever name you prefer), decided to “test” my resolve to keep dancing!! 

Last night at 9:30, I arrived home to a massive water heater leak and a few hundred square feet of carpet that was so sopping wet that water splashed when I walked across the carpet.   Maintenance arrived at 11:00 pm to deal with the water heater.  A carpet cleaner arrived at 11:30 pm to start removing the water from the carpet.  And now there’s a very large fan blowing air under the carpet and padding, and someone is to install a powerful dehumidifier this morning.  

As you might imagine, I didn’t get much sleep, and I’m pretty tired.  I need to have a productive day at work, go to the grocery, be a mom, and then figure out how many more days it’ll be until the bookshelves (and all the books, toys, and games that lived on them) can return to that wall between the closet and stairs.   

Between being tired and knowing part of my house is in disarray, I’m not feeling especially relaxed.   I’m tense.  And I could focus on that feeling and worry about the carpet and the disorder.  I could let that feeling spiral into a grumpy mood that would result in less than ideal interactions with others, and increased frustration.  

OR 

I can accept that I cannot fix the house or carpet today, because carpet dries when it dries, and I can let go of the worry about if, when, and how I’m going to get my house back in order.  And instead I can focus on NOW —  the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and my life is filled with blessings!!!!

I’m tired, but the choice where to focus remains mine .  . . 

Let’s see if I can pass today’s test!!!

And the message is??? 

ב׳׳ה


 

I took that picture last weekend in Florida, and I’ve been drawn back to it nearly every day this week, almost as if I’m waiting for it to tell me… something…

But every day that I look, the picture seems to bring me a slightly different message about Life — about the cycle of life and death, about the interconnection of all existence, about finite matter “standing” at the edge of infinity and eternity, about the holiness and beauty inherent in moments of transition… 

So I decided that, this Shabbat, instead of telling you what I see, I’d post the picture and invite all of you to tell me what you see in it.   I’d love to hear what messages you see — please leave a comment and let me know!!   🙂  Thanks!

Praying Shabbat brings more shalom to all, jen 

How old am I?? 

ב׳׳ה


This week we return in the Torah to “my portion” — B’har/B’chukotai — the portion of my conversion to Judaism and of my bat mitzvah.  It’s been 12 years since my conversion and 9 years since my bat mitzvah.   Each of those events feels simultaneously like they happened yesterday and a hundred years ago. 

May is also the month of my physical birth — 47 years ago, which I find really hard to believe because I remain a total kid at heart.  I find great joy in playing with my sons, whether building Legos, playing video games, racing cars, jumping on trampolines, or battling with Nerf guns.   

In a video I posted here a few weeks ago, Rabbi Rami Shapiro reminded his audience that whatever we think our age is, we have to add at least 13.8 BILLION years to it, because the pure soul that we were given is a piece of Hashem and has existed at least since The Big Bang.  

And, yet, each day, as we say in the morning prayer Yotzer Or, Gd renews Creation . . . including each of us!!   Because of this, Rabbi Nachman taught we need to take full advantage of each day for the unique opportunities that it offers. Who knows how we might be different today from yesterday, what  new talent or skill or interest we might find within ourselves . . . and maybe that also means that this version of me is here only today, so today, and every day, is Day 1 of an amazingly miraculous adventure!! 

I don’t know what number best describes my age, but I know I’m going to keep embracing each day and the opportunities Hashem gives me to live, to laugh, and to love.  And I pray you’ll do the same.  

Shabbat shalom to all — may you feel young and excited to be alive!!  jen