Tuesday, 31 July 2007

The life I never had

I just finished reading a couple of new blogs...one is from a new writer I'm hiring, the other is her sister's blog. And I found the life I never had....

I read about close families and having neighborhood girl friends to share the baby years and toddler years as they raise their families together. About getting together with friends from high school year after year to see familes form and grow. I read about family trips and dads who loved their kids ...

I found the life I always wanted, and never had.

I think one of the reasons I moved to Utah for college was because I knew that I wanted a family and a life like that. I always tell people I moved because as a child of South Florida, I was anxious to experience mountains and snow. And that is partially true. It all looked so dramatic ...towering mountains, fields of pure white snow, spring meadows filled with wildflowers. But what I don't ever tell them is that I moved because I wanted a different kind of family.

Don't get me wrong...I grew up in a very good family. My parents loved us, and we had a good life. Trips, lessons, a nice home, beautiful clothes -- every THING a child could want. But from the beginnning, I was wired differently.

My mom, a brilliant woman who would have made a top notch doctor, became a nurse and then a homemaker, but never really fit into either of theose roles. She did them because when she graduated high school in the late 1950's, she was told that was where a woman belonged. She resented being at home. Hated cooking, would sooner have thrown herself from a tall building than ever sew, scrapbook, knit or do any sort of craft, found women's groups deadly dull, and had no interest in neighborhood get-togethers. We lived in the suburbs -- she was never a suburban wife. She was meant for different stuff -- feretting out tough diagnosis, or performing impossible surgeries. Think of Dr. House from the FOX TV show and you have my mom! I kid you not.

My mom wanted me to be and do all the things she never did. To be successful in a career, to be an achiever at the top of my field, if not in medicine, then in law, engineering or business. A tiger lady. Driven.

Unfortunately, I was not like my mom. I love to cook, to make things. I quilt. I do needlepoint and cross stitch. I scrapbook. And from as early as I could remember, I loved babies. I knew, from an early age, that I wanted a family.

That contrast was never so clear as when my mom "caught" me reading a Bride's Magazine. She snatched it from my hand and threw it into the trash. The next day, there was a copy of Ms. Magazine on my bedside. My mom had spoken.

I moved to Utah because I knew about Mormon families. I had Mormon friends. I loved their families. I saw exactly what I wanted there.

Unfortunately, I never got that dream. I married. I have three amazing children. And I divorced. I never had the suburban house with the friends next door, or the family vacations.

I guess I am mourning that lost dream. I have a career. I do work hard, and I have started to achieve some measure of success. I have, in many ways, all my mom wanted. How ironic. It seems that fate has given us each the lives the other wanted.

My mom now runs charities, sits on the board of directors of a medical facility, is a leader in the community. It took her awhile, but she got to place where she belongs. Finally.

Maybe it's not too late for me...

Friday, 27 July 2007

Friday Five -- The Earth

From Sally on RevGalPals...

Here in the UK we are struggling with floods, other parts of the world have similar problems without the infrastructure to cope with it, still others are badly affected by drought.... My son Jon is in Melbourne Australia where apparently it has been snowing ( yes it is winter but still!).... With crazy weather in mind I bring you this weeks Friday 5...

1. Have you experienced living through an extreme weather event- what was it and how did you cope?

Several blizzards in The Rockies and Pennsylvania where the snow was so deep,
it covered the street signs to the top! We could not drive anywhere -- heck, we couldn't even see the car! In the Rockies, I lived in town, so we just walked everywhere for a few days. Everything was so quiet...no traffic, no classes or work to get to. In Pennsylvania, we lived in the country, so there was no where to walk to...and although it was nice by the fireplace, I went stir crazy! Probably why I am back in Florida now!

2. How important is it that we wake up to issues such as global warming?
We want to live as though we are master of the environment, looking on from above. We have refused to admit we are instead a part of it...for good or for bad. We are waking up (slowly) to the awareness that this is not reality, not an option.

3. The Christian (Islamic/Jewish/Buddhist...) message needs to include stewardship of the earths resources agree/ disagree?

Absolutely...the earth and all it contains is a gift and must be cared for as such.

And because it is summer- on a brighter note....

4. What is your favourite season and why?

Autumn is both my favourite and my saddest season. It is cooler but not cold. Colorful in much of the world. But it is also sad -- for some reason it reminds me of all the people I miss, the dreams not yet (or never) achieved.

5. Describe your perfect vacation weather....

Warm, sunny, clear blue skies, breezy...that special feeling of something wonderful will happen today!

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Wondering where G-d is leading me...

I received an invitation to attend an Islamic awareness day at a local public place this weekend. I've RSVP'd a maybe, because I am just learning about Islam, and doubt my abilities to answer even the most basic of questions with any degree of accuracy.

And yet, I want to go. Not to be the source of answers about Islamic practice or theology, but to be an answer to the very first question that should be asked...

Why ask about Islam? Especially as a Jew. Why ask?

Every person who walks up to this table on Sunday will have their own answer io that...curiosity about what they've heard/seen on tv, a desire to prove their own superiority to another group, genuine intellectual interest about some point or another of the faith. I'm sure that the reasons will be as numerous as the people who stop by.

And I'm sure that among all of those people, there will be a few who share my answer.

Because I could not help but ask.
Because the driving search for what this life means and what I am to do with it has led me, step by step, moment by moment to this place and this time...looking back, I can see the turns and twists that brought me here.

...to this place, and to these questions.

The next what's and why's remain to be seen. For now, knowing that I need to ask is enough.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

An American Theology of Consumerism

I have just been reading Lawrence of Arabia's post about the rise of the cola wars in the Middle East.

Awhile ago, the Confessions of a Shopaholic blog had a piece on the rise in obesity in France. The New York Times reported on increases in cancer rates among Japanese and Chinese citizens who have adopted an American style of eating.

After I read LoA's post about the cola wars and watched the videos that blatently fuse American pop icons with Arabic themes, I realized that what we are witnessing is not just advertising, but a religion being spread with the same zeal as that of any missionary -- and the budget of a corporate giant.

The Free Dictionary online defines religion as:
a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

In this case, the American way of life is the supernatural power. After all, is it really much of step from repeatedly claiming ourselves to be a Super Power to being a Super-natural one? Our lifestyle, our vaues, our styles and tastes -- we claim to rule the (known) universe. Our way is best. Drink our sodas, wear our clothes, live/eat/drive/sing...and above all SHOP as we do.

Just as early Christian missionaries brought a whole new package of beliefs and behaviours to the "primitive peoples" of the world, Coca Cola and Pepsi are preaching a new focus to their Arabic audience. Look at us. We know the truth. Do as we do. This way lies happiness and freedom from your ignorant old ways. Cast off your old ways. We come in the name of the creator of prosperity. And we have been sent here to bring you into the fold.

This is more than just opening up a new market for a product...it's creating the belief that this product AND the liftstyle it represents are the right way to live. How far is that from definition number 3 above? In truth, it's right on the money (pun intended.)

Sadly, our nation's campaign to spread its theology has been widely successful. Taco Bells and McDonald's dot the globe, and it's hard to be far from a Snicker's Bar or a can of Coke.

It's nothing new to recognize that the American way of life is being exported. But seeing it as a religion we are proslytizing is, to me, a far scarier thought.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Words from a song....

More true than I would like to admit....never heard of the song or the artist before today, but it touched me....

She loves her mama's lemonade,
Hates the sound that goodbyes make.
She prays one day she'll find someone to need her.
She swears that there's no difference,
Between the lies and compliments.
It's all the same if everybody leaves her.

And every magazine tells her she's not good enough,
The pictures that she sees make her cry.

And she would change everything, everything just ask her.
Caught in the in-between
a beautiful disaster,
And she just needs someone to take her home...

And she would change everything, everything just ask her.
Caught in the in-between of beautiful disaster,

And she would change everything for happy ever after.
Caught in the in-between of beautiful disaster...

-- Jon Mclaughlin - Beautiful Disaster

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Getting to know my readers.....

I would like to get to know you, my readers. Here is a little quiz to help me learn more about my friends here online...

1) Where do you blog?

2) What are your favourite blogs?

3) What gives you joy?

4) What is your favourite sound?

5) What is you favourite song?

6) What do you hope to hear once you reach the pearly gates?

7) You have up to 15 words: what would you put on your tombstone?

8) Write the first sentence of your own great American novel.

9) What color ink do you prefer in your pen?

10) If you could have any view you wanted from your window, what would you see?

11) What is the one place you most want to visit but have yet to see?

12) What is the best place you have visited so far?

13) What do you want to be remembered for by those who knew you best?

14) What is something you want to achieve this decade?

15) This lifetime?

(Adapted in part from RevGalsBlog)

My answers, to get this started....

1) Where do you blog?
Here! And at BlogHer, Wetpaint (actually a Wiki), and several other smaller sites

2) What are your favourite blogs?
See my list to the right of this page!

3) What gives you joy?
Smiling at a stranger who looked sad or angry and having them smile back.

4) What is your favourite sound?
Water...it could be rain, a stream, a waterfall or waves as long as it's water

5) What is you favourite song?
The Prayer, as sung by Josh Groben

6) What do you hope to hear once you reach the pearly gates?
Welcome back.

7) You have up to 15 words: what would you put on your tombstone?
She sang, she danced, she cared, she loved.

8) Write the first sentence of your own great American novel.
Elizabeth didn't expect to see a unicorn that morning -- but to be fair, the unicorn did not expect her either.

9) What color ink do you prefer in your pen?

10) If you could have any view you wanted from your window, what would you see?
A beautiful expanse of water, with a slightly foggy sky, a rainbow, and a bit of land off on the distance

11) What is the one place you most want to visit but have yet to see?
England - especially the coastal areas

12) What is the best place you have visited so far?
San Francisco

13) What do you want to be remembered for by those who knew you best?
Really loving them with all my heart

14) What is something you want to achieve this decade?
Financial independence as a freelance writer

15) This lifetime?
Learning as much as possible, understanding as much as possible, loving as much as possible

An issue we need to address

As immigrants and refugees in this country continue to be demonized, (it is always the "other" who is viewed as the cause of all economic and social problems...xenophobia), here is a issue we need to address immediately...
Iraqi refugees. .

Monday, 16 July 2007

And the hatred continues...

Yesterday in my e-mail I received a hate letter to all Muslims allegedly penned by a John Maniscalco, an American Airline pilot. A few minutes of investigating revealed that the letter was a hoax, and that their pilot by this name denies any involvement in it.

Michelle Simmons, customer relations representative for America Airlines, told BreakTheChain.org that they are investigating the matter, but have not yet found the letter's source. And that “On September 12th, our Chairman issued a statement to all American employees specifically stating that we would not tolerate hate of any kind at our Company. That statement remains true today."

And from Snopes.com, “The origins of "You Worry Me" remain murky — it first appeared on the Internet in June 2002, but attempts to verify whether its real author is an American Airlines pilot and/or someone named John Maniscalco have led to dead ends. “

The fact remains that someone wrote this piece…and here is my response. I hope you will read it…

To whomever penned this letter:

I wish I could say I understand and sympathize with your fears. But I do not.

I do not wish this because I want to share your fears and distrust, but so I could better address the many errors they represent.

Sadly, the facts and emotions you cite in your letter are born less of truth and understanding than of of paying attention to the ramblings of media talking heads who are paid to incite fear and distrust in the name of higher ratings and more expensive commercial rates.

You asked for answers...please allow me to humbly offer you a different perspective.

I would like to address your points one by one. For ease of following my response, I will be inserting my response into your original text in green. I challenge you ---all of you – to read to the end. Please.

YOU WORRY ME!" allegedly by American Airlines Pilot – Captain John Maniscalco

I've been trying to say this since 9-11, but you worry me. I wish you didn't. I wish when I walked down the streets of this country that I love, that your color and culture still blended with the beautiful human landscape we enjoy in this country. But you don't blend in anymore. I notice you, and it worries me.

Did you know that the majority of the world's Muslim population is not Arabic? And that odds just as likely that the majority of people you are "noticing" as you move through your day are Jewish, Christian, Hindu, or Sikh? People of all faiths have been attacked and even killed on our streets since September 11th simply because someone "thought they looked Muslim." Did you know that the largest population of Muslims is in Indonesia, with significant numbers in India -- not Arabic countries at all?

I notice you because I can't help it anymore. People from your homelands, professing to be Muslims, have been attacking and killing my fellow citizens and our friends for more than 20 years now. I don't fully understand their grievances and hate, but I know that nothing can justify the inhumanity of their attacks.

The men who hijacked the planes on September 11th had spent the days before hand drinking and engaging in sexual activity with women. These are documented facts. They then killed thousands of innocent people.

As the killing of innocents and to a lesser extent, both alcohol use and extramarital sexual activity are strictly forbidden by the Qu'ran, clearly these men were not practicing Muslims, any more than the members of the IRA who bombs malls or Timothy McVey who bombed the building in Oklahoma are Christians, although they all claimed to be. And we do not brand the entire Christian community for the acts of Mr. McVey and his fellow mass murders who also attacked and killed our fellow citizens. Nor do we condemn all Irish people for the acts of IRA.

As for not understanding the basis for long standing dislike of the US among certain countries, please, please start with a basic review of history...of the many governments we have set up and armed in that region, only to bomb and destroy at will when the puppet governments no longer suit our purpose or play our game. I would refer you to the archives of the New York Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Miami Herald or any other major newspaper to read the news stories concerning our friends/foes in the Middle East and North Africa. You will be amazed at the vast discrepancies between what the news media reports today about the events and what was written at the time things actually happened.

This does not justify September 11th. Nothing does. But it answers your question about hatred.

Sadly most Americans are grossly uninformed about their own history, and thus are easily swayed by the media. Shame on us...we should know better.

On September 11, nineteen ARAB-MUSLIMS hijacked four jetliners in my country. they cut the throats of women in front of children and brutally stabbed to death others. they took control of those planes and crashed them into buildings killing thousands of proud fathers, loving sons, wise grandparents, elegant daughters, best friends, favorite coaches, fearless public servants, and children's mothers.

As stated above, the individuals were no more Muslim than McVey was a Christian. History is replete with examples of people who assumed a religious label to justify horrific acts of violence. Few religions have not seen this tragedy. We should be able to see through this guise by now. But it is still trotted out by power-hungry people worldwide and in every faith, and still used to justify hatred and retaliation against honest practitioners of the target faith. Shame on us...again, we should know better.

The Palestinians Celebrated, the Iraqis were overjoyed as was most of the Arab World. So, I notice you now. I don't want to be worried. I don't want to be
consumed by the same rage and hate and prejudice that has destroyed the soul of these terrorists. But I need your help. As a rational American, trying to protect my country and family in an irrational and unsafe world, I must know how to tell the difference between you, and the Arab/Muslim terrorist.

After September 11th, did you approach your Muslim friends and neighbors to ask how they felt about the tragedy? Were they happy? Or were they as devastated as you? Did you start there when you were seeking answers?

Or could it be that you have never talked with a Muslim, except perhaps for a brief exchange in a business setting? Who are the Muslims in your neighborhood? Have you visited their homes? Invited them to yours? Shared a dinner? Gotten to know their children? Or are you relying on the sensationalist media to tell you who Muslims are and what they believe? There is hardly a person in this country who does not know that television is run on ratings...and that includes the news...and yet we are willing to swallow wholesale the "facts" they tell us and change our lives based on that "information." Why? Shame on us...it's time we considered the source before we believe anything

And once again, I need to point out that using the phrase "Arab/Muslim" as though the two are interchangeable is incorrect, as the majority of the world's Muslims are not Arabic, and many Arabs are not Muslim.

See the rest of the letter and my reply on To Be Continued ...

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Ten facts about belly dancing

Monday was my weekly belly dance class. Soon I will be adding a Wednesday class as well.

And over the past few months, I've learned a few things from this old and difficult dance form. Here are my top 10, in no particular order:

1) You have muscles you never knew you had. Seriously. LOTS of them. And they are none to happy about being found after a lifetime of relaxation!

2) You never outgrow the love of things that sparkle and jingle. Rattles and shiny toys have nothing on my shimmy (hip scarf with coins attached) or belly dance bra with the opalescent beading and dangles.

3) A group of women will attempt almost any move and never worry about how they look while they're learning. But let one man set foot in the studio and every woman will freeze.

4) It is nearly impossible to sit still when belly dance music is playing. Something will start to move -- a foot, a leg, an arm, a hip...pretty soon you're dancing when all you planned to do was listen.

5) Most of the things we associate with belly dance like belly button jewels, the types of costumes and the setting for the dance came from Hollywood in the 1920's-40's ... not from Egypt.

6) There are lots of different kinds of bellydance, including Egyptian, folkloric, tribal, cabaret, and fusion. All very unique, all very beautiful.

7) Women like watching bellydancers as much as men do -- but they drool less.

8) The belly dance community in South Florida is one of the friendliest, most welcoming group of women I've ever met.

9) Age, size and body type are not issues in belly dance. Great dancers come in all of the above.

10) Once you start belly dancing, you won't want to stop. It is a most pleasant addiction!

Monday, 9 July 2007

Poetry Discussion

From the poetry discussion at Yearning for G-d

Poem for Poetry Discussion

Primary Wonder
Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions
jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber
along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing
their colored clothes; caps and bells.
And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the throng's clamor
recedes: the mystery
that there is anything, anything at all,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything,
rather than void: and that, 0 Lord,
Creator, Hallowed one, You still,
hour by hour sustain it.
-- Denise Levertov

Posted by Jan at 7:48 PM

I posted my comments on Jan's blog, but here it is here too...

The visual picture she creates is amazing! What a a wonderful description of Shabbat...the week as the noisy throng, Shabbat as the the welcome quiet! The Shekihana, the feminine spirit of G-d, the white clad, pure Shabbat bride, moving quietly forward through the week, finally able to be heard and seen in the silence of the Sabbath.

Be sure to go over to her blog to read the rest of the insightful comments from her readers. And perhaps join in!

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Since the promise...Sunday

On Sunday, I went with the Project Downtown people to a residential shelter for abused kids. Even as I feel the emotions I experienced on meeting these precious children, I am finding it hard to put it into words.

The young men I mentioned from yesterday's post put on a professional level children's theatre show for the kids (this week it was pirates...they do a different show for each visit, as you can see in video hotlink above.) We did a treasure hunt, we played Duck, Duck, Goose, we sang. We hugged children and snuggled small babies. Some of the children had particular favourites among the adults present, some were outgoing, some appeared baffled and lost, their small eyes deep with pain and sadness. Some played, some watched. Some shared their stories in unexpected ways (we are not allowed to ask about their experiences, but if they talk, we listen.)

I went for two hours and stayed for four. I am haunted by these children, honored by their trust in the face of such much pain, awestruck by their ability to laugh and that laughter's testimony to the strength of the human spirit.

I watched the young men performing for these kids. These young men who belong to a faith that so much of the world has written off as evil. Pouring their hearts and souls into a few hours of distraction for some kids in need. Giving out jokes and hugs and goody bags with equal grace and love. Down on the floor among the children, never pausing for a moment to wonder if snuggling a baby makes them any less manly.

I am proud to be among this group of people. Humbled by the innocent trust of the children I got to know. Grateful for every tiny hand that reached out to hold mine, or small set of arms that wrapped around my neck today. Anxious to return in two weeks to once again see these sweet children.

G-d is indeed blessing my life. Who would have thought that a prayer uttered on a stormy day while writing on a computer in my car in a McDonald's parking lot could return so much?

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Since the promise...G-d's latest additions to my life -Saturday

A few days ago , I made a commitment to do one thing every day to make a difference. Since then, G-d has been acting in my life in big ways.

I wrote about the women and the overheated car. That was Tuesday evening. Thursday morning, I checked my e-mail to find information about an organization called The Project Downtown. It's a small but growing group of people in cities across the country and now across the globe that started with three men taking 30 sandwiches out to the homeless on the streets of Miami. It's still the same mission...to feed, to, to talk with, and to listen to the homeless. To be a resource there on the street. Not a formal organization. A friend. Someone who will spend an hour or two and share a meal and a willing heart with people who are struggling to survive.

I responded immediately, and got an e-mail back telling me the place and time to meet on Saturday. I went. This "chapter" of the group, headed by three truly amazing young men, was ...I am not sure exactly what word I want....


The right word is somewhere among all of those, a piece of each. After we distributed sandwiches and cold drinks and talked and listened, we had had a brief meeting among the volunteers, then a closing prayer.

I was invited back to the Mosque afterwards and went gladly. We spent another 1-2 hours talking, planning for this group, and discussing obsticles to our program (the police, a local women's group...they apparently regularly harrassed the group for handing out free food to the homeless.)

"There is a big beautification move on in the cities here," I was told. "So they only want the homeless fed indoors. Out of sight. "

"The homeless are not beautiful to them, I guess."

Very wrong.

Next Saturday we will be there again. I will be there again. And the hungry and homeless will still be there too. With their beautiful souls.

Perhaps not beautiful to a city...

I'm just that G-d and the people who started this group see with different eyes.

Friday, 6 July 2007

From The Faith in Commmunity Blog...

Borrowing from another Blogger....

Diane posted on Thursday, July 5, 2007....

Poem: To Be Of Use, by Marge Piercy
Mompriest and I are discussing poetry on our respective blogs. Now it's my turn -- and this is the next poem I want to share.

I discovered this poem in a book of essays called The Impossible Will Take a Little While, edited by Paul Rogat Loeb. The essays, from various faith traditions, speak about the connections between social justice and spirituality. There were also several poems in the anthology, including this one. I think of this poem, as well, when I consider my younger stepson and his girlfriend, who last May built a kiln in our backyard for a school project they did together on Japanese Raku pottery.

To Be Of Use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

(from collection called Circles on the Water, Alfred A. Knopf, 1982)

Friday Five -- a Quick One....

Here is the RevGalPals Friday 5....and my answers. Add yours,copy it to your blog. Let me know if you do!

Today, what are you:

1. Wearing
Blue jeans (faded), black cotton long sleeved Indian tunic with silver embroidery and trim, Bass slides (three years old, the leather is oh so soft and they are sooooo comfortable!), silver necklaces, bracelet and watch.

2. Reading
Generation X by Douglas Copeland

3. Eating
Grapes, blueberries, and mixed salad greens

4. Doing
Working...or rather I should be. The Friday restlessness is in full swing!

5. Pondering
Love, life, connections and distance

Thursday, 5 July 2007

G-d is listening

I had no sooner hit send on that last post than a car pulled in next to me, steam pouring out from under its hood, even in the downpour. Two women got out. I looked up, and all but laughed. Clearly when we make a promise like I did and talk about it to others, the universe listens. G-d listens.

I spent the next hour getting to know two nice women, helping them with their car, getting soaking wet. When I exhausted all I knew to do, a man in shirt with a Mobile gas logo appeared out of no-where (literally...to the point where one of women asked if he had fallen out the trees! A moment before, we had been the only ones in the parking lot!) He told them what else they needed to do before they drove away. The rain slowed down, I said good-bye and drove home.

I was astonished by the immediacy of G-d's response to my promise. But yesterday when I was helping my friend pack for her move to Colorado, I told her about it. She is a follower of Eckankar, a religion that incorporates many of the elements of earlier faiths and believes in the existence of guides or masters. She told me the right-now response was not at all weird or odd...it was the way the universe is meant to work. I put the challenge out there, and G-d responded. As it should be.

I'm curious...has this kind of immediate response happened to any of you? If so, could you please share your experiences? I would love to hear them.

I'm off to work now...same as most days. But today with a new awareness -- and gratitude -- that G-d is listening.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Blogging in the car

Life is good.

I am sitting in my car in a fashionable South Florida suburb. All around me, it's pouring rain...the kind that makes it impossible to see the road in front of...heck I couldn't even see the hood of my own car. There is lightening hitting on the other side of the road. Thunder cracking so loud it startles me even though I know it's coming.

And yet, I am warm and dry and safe. An iced tea beside me. Music on the stereo. And a full bar connection to the Internet on my wireless laptop. My cell phone fully charged and sitting on the seat beside me. A warm and safe apartment waiting for me when the rain finally stops and I can see to drive home.

And life is bad.

As I sit here complaisantly enjoying the fruits of technology, I am aware that in the hospital just behind this strip mall there are people fighting for their lives. Family members wishing for one more chance to say all they never got around to saying before time ran out. And probably within a mile or two of me, there is someone who is hungry and has no money to buy food or to feed their hungry child.

The one of the Noble Truths in Buddhism is that suffering is a part of life. And that we have a choice to accept that fact or to make it even worse by dwelling on the injustice of the suffering. Judaism and Islam teach us that while suffering is a part of life, releaving suffering is our duty on earth -- in large part the means by which we will be judged. And someone once said that it is impossible for me to become sad enough to make another happy, sick enough to make another well, or poor enough to make someone wealthy.

So what are we supposed to do? Thank G-d that we are among the fortunate? Bless our good kharma for our easy life? Say that when we have time we will do something?

I few days ago, I posted a blog about how much the small efforts matter. Now I am going challenge myself and you who are reading this blog to put those quotes into action. By doing small things with great love.

Starting today...right now...not tomorrow...make a small difference. Even the busiest among us can do one small thing every day. Instead of bemoaning hunger, buy one extra can of food and put it in the food bank bin. No more excuses about how that won't make a difference. It will. Run an errand for a neighbor. Ask about a co-worker's sick child and bring a small treat to cheer them. Call your legislator to encourage them to vote for a loving and caring law, or to thank them for voting against a bad one. Pick up a piece of trash in the park. Take a bag of pet food to your local animal shelter...or even just a single can. Leave a book for someone to find in a laundrymat -- and write a note telling them that it is for them to keep. Read to a child. Hug a neighbor. Put your change in the Ronald McDonald bin at the drive-through.

Make it your mission to do one act of kindness every day. Don't wait for someone to ask you. The Qu'ran says that we should not only help those who ask for help, but should seek out those in need who will never ask.

Live your faith, whatever it is. Be someone who mattered, even if, on the day you die, no one ever knows your name.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Sleeping alone, napping with someone you love

To nap with someone is the realization of your inner self. To sleep alone is misery.

-- Moawya

My friend sent me this as a text message yesterday. We are both in the middle of exploring new relationships and trying to find that elusive thing called love. So we talk a lot. Calm each other's fears. Try to sort out what we hope will happen from what is really happening. Give each other support and warnings. And a few times, have even pulled each other from moments of dispair.

But this text message stopped me cold. "Realization of your inner self..." may seem like a lot to put on an ordinary nap. But it's not.

He is right.

When we are small, we nap in the safety of our cribs, our homes, usually with a parent nearby. Sometimes even cradled in the arms of someone who loves us. Safe. Protected. We rest and gain strength and recharge for the next adventures or tests we'll face after our nap. Whether it was an outing to the park or one more try at walking across the vast space that was the living room, after the nap we were ready.

As adults, most of us seldom nap. Unless we're sick, we are far from our beds from the beginning of our day to the end. If we're married or with a partner, we may share that bed at night. If we're single, we may spend our nights alone, or perhaps sometimes with a lover. We make love or read or watch tv in our beds...we are doing. Or it is nighttime and we are sleeping.

But a nap, as an adult, is different from other sleep. It is a return to that safety of infancy. It has no agenda. It's not about sex or night time. It's just about rest and renewal.

To share that moment of innocence and safety with another person is a profound act of trust. It is to admit our fatigue and our needs, and then to awaken in broad daylight again with this person next to us, all our flaws visible, faces bearing the marks of our pillows or our hands, hair messed up, perhaps even clothing rumpled if the nap was unplanned. It is to entrust our sleeping selves to this person who is sharing our bed while the rest of the world runs around outside our window.

It is to steal a moment from the time when adults are supposed to be productive or at least busy and return for just a moment to the freedom of our childhood.

You're right, my friend. I already owe you so many thanks for all our hours on the phone and the wisdom you've shared.

In return, I wish you someone to share a nap with...