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Showing posts from May, 2016

Omer Day 23: Stick-to-itiveness and the Black and White Cookie

Stick-to-itiveness. Dogged perseverance. Endurance in discipline. Persistence.

It's the focus of Omer Day 23: maintaining discipline, and on the surface it's a good way to approach life.

Make goals, daily plans of action, a purpose and stick to them. It's a good thing. 

But it's also got a potentially deadly downside: Stick-to-itiveness becomes rigidity, and rigidity careens into physical and spiritual exhaustion. Blinkered single-mindedness chops away at creativity until we're cut down by the "not ever in our history" mentality that says that since we didn't do it before, we can't do it now. Stick-to-itiveness morphs into the negativity of "if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got."

And while black and white cookies may be good for the soul, a black and white disciplined life is soul numbing. And even black and white cookies have that fine line distinguishing the chocolate from the vanilla, a l…

Omer Day 25: Spiritual flossing

I overheard two dental hygienists chatting the other day:

Hygienist 1: She (patient) told me she's flossing every day.
Hygienist 2: Good for her!
Hygienist 1: Yeah ... and I told her she has to keep it up every single day; the day you don't is the beginning of the end.

No, this isn't about dental hygiene. I'm talking about doing things that require commitment: prayer, meditation, feeding my body and soul with health, avoiding negativity. You know, the little things that add up. 

What's my commitment like today? Am I willing to do what it takes to "keep it up every single day?"


Omer Day 22: Lessons about God from a Cockapoo

My Maggie turns her existence over to us every day. She depends on us for her food, water, playtime, hugs. She may be descended from wolves, but we have created a life for her that requires constant surveillance. That's a huge responsibility on our part, and we have accepted it willingly. 

It was the same with our children: we brought them into the world to love and nurture them, take care of them until they could fly on their own (and God willing to be available even after that when their wings get clipped and they need and want some parental loving and comfort).

Don't you wish you could turn your life over to God - your will, your worries, your essence - and spend your days in total bliss? Maybe today we can - for a tiny bit - remember that while we do our daily work of partnering, we're not responsible for the entire universe, just our piece of it. And for today, that will have to be enough.

Omer Day 20: The Hospital Stay: Being Vulnerable and Needing Compassion from Myself and Others

Things I hate: being sick, being a hospital patient, being vulnerable and needy and in pain and tired and all of the above. 

I just spent the past 48 hours in the hospital. 

A badly sprained lower back muscle or two took me down while I was making the bed (these household chores really are deadly, am I right?). I couldn't move and finally had to call 911 to get me to the ER. Multiple doses of a cocktail of meds didn't touch the pain, so they admitted me for "pain management" and to determine the cause. 

Hospitals - at least the one I went to - don't handle "pain management" really well. They're equipped to fix a problem, but freewheeling pain? Not so much. And in the 21st Century medical world, where patients are given the responsibility and honor of self monitoring, medical professionals forget that the most vulnerable patient may not be able to even know what s/he needs, much less have the physical or emotional strength to ask for it. 

I wasn't dy…

Omer Day 13: It takes an individual to raise a community

The African saying is true: It takes a village to raise a child.

It also takes one individual to raise a community.

One person with drive and vision willing to make a daily commitment to suit up and show up.   One person plus one more person plus one more person ... each one willing to make it happen. 

The proof? Two unrelated events this week, a funeral and a Yom ha-Shoa observance.

A lovely woman died last Monday. She was just shy of 60, had lived with (emphasis on the "lived") MS for decades and finally succumbed to a raging cancer that cut off her life midstream. At her memorial service on Wednesday, it was noted that she was the center of many circles, and all those circles were represented as we mourned a beautiful life. She was the catalyst that brought us together, and we were interrelated by our awareness of her spirit. 

Last night my synagogue presented a documentary about Nicholas Winton, a wealthy Brit who in 1939 rescued 669 Jewish Czech children from certain death a…

Omer Day 11: Hanging in for the long haul

My Wednesday routine is pretty simple: Workout, shower, breakfast, voice lesson. 

I'm noting that routine today because the Omer reflection for Day 11 is about the relationship between endurance and discipline.

George Santayana was right: repetition is nature's only real form of permanence. 

I don't love to work out, but I do it 4 or 5 times a week (sometimes high exertion, sometimes low). There are a lot of things I'd rather do than vocalize, but I do it most every day. 

There are a lot of daily chores I'd much rather not do, too: make the bed, empty the dishwasher, fold/put away the laundry, just to name a few. But I do them for obvious reasons. Oh, and yeah - I have a dog, and she needs to be walked, fed, loved, and hugged every single day, too. 

And here's the kicker: if I work out regularly, my body gets stronger; if I vocalize every day, my voice gets stronger; and if I make the bed every day, those few minutes become my (to borrow from Jon Stewart) moments of…

Omer Day 9: When my will lines up with God's will ... imagine the possibilities

Rabbi Shefa Gold teaches: "In this [meditation] practice I find and express my strength, my will, my effort and desire when I chant “Ozi.” When I chant “v’zimrat Yah,” I open and surrender to the God-song and let it be sung through me. Then in the last phrase, “Vayahi li lishuah,” I balance those two aspects of my practice."

Week 2 of the Omer (which began Saturday night) suggests an exploration of discipline and structure. This isn't punishment-type discipline; it's the kind of discipline that helps people set boundaries in attitude and behavior. In spiritual terms, discipline means aligning what I want with what God wants (assuming I can figure out what that is). 

The lesson that I take from Rabbi Gold is this: Healthy discipline aligns my will with God's will. Figuring out what God's will is takes time, although sometimes it's as simple as just asking. But when I take that time and when I get out of my own way and use discipline as a tool for spiritual h…