Pondering…I AM

One of my favorite activities is pondering.

In the mornings, before I get out of bed, I ponder how my day should be organized.  While brushing my teeth, I ponder:  What should I wear? How  should I arrange my waist-length hair? Is that really a zit on my chin?  At my age?  How is my husband feeling today? What is the meaning of I AM? How does a camera shutter work?  Does the cat’s litter box need cleaning? Is the dog ready for his walk?…

Wait!  What?  The meaning of I AM?

Hmmmmnnnnnnnn….and so the pondering, meditating, contemplating, ruminating begins…

From the Biblical standpoint, I AM is the name of God as revealed to Moses:  I Am That I Am.

Who is the God that did the revealing?  How did Moses know it was God’s revelation and not just voices inside his head?

I don’t know.  I wasn’t there,  I don’t know Moses’s experience, and I have no scholarly credentials upon which to base any suppositions of such an event.  However, what Joel Goldsmith says in his Spiritual Interpretation of Scripture, the second paragraph on page 18, resonates loud and clear with me.  Goldsmith says:

“From the moment that Moses realized ‘I AM THAT I AM’ he was master of every situation, a leader of men.  He knew then that life is not a physical experience, but is expressed as states and stages of consciousness and that progress is always from the lowest to the highest, to the realization that I am eternal life.”  [Note:  Italics for emphasis are mine.]

So, according to Goldsmith, Moses realized “I AM THAT I AM.” No body told him. No body told him because God is not an exterior entity or being, corporeal or not, God is “I AM THAT I AM” or, in its short form, “I AM.”

Do this now: 

Say to yourself:  I AM.

Close your eyes, say it again:  I AM.

What do you notice?

Jot it down.

Now, proceed with reading this if you are still so inclined.

The first time I read that phrase, “Moses realized,” I had a profound feeling of release….aaaahhhhhh….as if I’d been holding my breath my whole life to hear the words describing what I’ve always known to be true:  that I AM God.  Wow!  If you’ve just done the above exercise, I am confident that you’ve had a similar experience because each and every one of us, as a Perfect Expression of the Divine, IS God.

So, the meaning of I AM is I am God.

Okay, then! Enough pondering for now…I’m sure there will be more in due course…

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Aloha And Shalom!

For the past decade (almost), it has been my pleasure to get together with a wonderful group of people, my hula ‘ohana (family), to learn the intricacies and delights of hula, and, mostly, to share the spirit of aloha.

The Hawai’ian language is very nuanced.  The word “aloha,” for example, encompasses many shades of meaning.  On the surface, the spirit of aloha conveys the feelings of welcoming, of love, of well-being.  It is all of these meanings, and it also means “charity,” “mercy,” “grace,” “regards,” “devotion,” “affection,” and the list goes on.  When you are embraced in the spirit of aloha, you are welcomed and held in the Oneness of Being, the “knowing” that we are all One, the “home” that we all long for.

Coconut bras and grass skirts stereotypes notwithstanding, hula is about worshiping and honoring the ‘aina, the land, which is synonymous with Self in the Hawai’ian culture.  The land, the sea, the sky, the winds, the trees, these are all part of the hula vocabulary and symbols of the inextricable connection between humans and nature.

Every month I get together with my hula sisters to dance hula, have a pu-pu (appetizers) at Chef Yu, catch up with one another and, in general, share our mana’o (ideas, thoughts, beliefs) and aloha.  Like any family we have our disagreements and our share of tempests in teacups.   Like any family, we always know we can count on one another in our moments of joy and celebration as well as in our times of sorrow.

Recently, we had the chance to celebrate our hula sister Ka’hea’s conversion to Judaism.  Ka’hea was so named by us because she is the one who is always reminding us which ka’hea (verse) we are dancing in a mele (chant). While I’m still trying not to stumble over my own feet, Ka’hea’s clear reminder of the ka’hea we’re dancing keeps me on track. So on the occasion of her conversion ceremony, her hula sisters came to embrace her in the spirit of aloha while Ka’hea embraced the spirit of shalom into her life. We all stood in a circle around her – her hula sisters, her choir sisters, her biological sisters, her Rabbi, her new congregation – and listened while Ka’hea stated clearly and movingly how much it means to her to be welcomed into the Jewish faith and community she has so lovingly chosen.  And her Rabbi spoke about how important it was for Ka’hea to see all the strands of her long and varied life represented at that life-changing ceremony.

It was a gift for me to witness the solidarity of all of Ka’hea’s friends and family standing together in shalom and aloha on the threshold of this new adventure she has embarked on.  I was once again reminded that no matter what our beliefs may be, we are all One.

Happy Birthday!

Today is my daughter’s birthday.  Like 25 years ago, it is very cold, windy, and sunny here in New York City.  Unlike 25 years ago, I’m much more comfortable in my physical body today!

As every parent knows, holding that newborn child in your arms brings out feelings of overwhelming love, a desire to protect, and many fears: fear of being an inadequate parent, fear of being able to afford school, fear of having the wisdom to guide her, fear of not talking to each other when she’s a teenager!  The list goes on, and on! As those of us who have been blessed with the role of parenthood for a while know, we manage to get through all these aggressive mental suggestions one little bit at a time, sometimes more successfully and gracefully, other times it’s a bit more messy.  As I said to my own mother then, when I was exasperating her for the millionth time in our own parent/child play: “We [my siblings and I] survived your mistakes, I’m sure my child will survive mine.”

And she has.  She is a beautiful, compassionate, kind, loving, intelligent Perfect Expression of Self Unfolding Perfectly Unto Infinity!

For me, this is one of those “marker” days. One of those days when I consciously reflect on the path that I’ve traveled to get here, and many things come up. I’ll just share some.

A couple of days ago, my daughter and I had the pleasure of spending time together with friends, another mother and daughter.  We met when our daughters were in kindergarten and have kept contact over the years. As we sat at the restaurant, enjoying one another’s company, our meal, our conversation, I was struck by what a different set of choices our daughters have made than what was expected of me and my fellow mother at their age. In my head, I heard Orson Welles selling Ernest and Julio Gallo’s wines back in the seventies with the motto:  We will sell no wine before its time.

Yet our beliefs lead us to expect our children to develop a certain way, to a certain level, by a certain time.  Why can we exhibit patience with the maturation of wine but not so much with our children? Or with ourselves, for that matter.  How is it that we understand that fruit ripens in its own time, Source expressing and unfolding perfectly as fruit, following its own inner guidance, but we don’t apply the same understanding to ourselves? We know the consequence of picking fruit before it’s ripe, yet we frequently forget to apply the same degree of patience with our children.

Anyway, the two young women in my story are making choices that are unexpected in our society. I hear the defensiveness in their voices when we ask, “So, what are you doing now?” and the answer is not: I have a great job, I’m studying for my doctorate, I’m on a career track, I have a great apartment/house, I have a significant partner, I’m getting married, I’m starting a family. Instead of saying any of these things, they say, almost apologetically: I’m not sure, I’m still trying to figure it out, I’m trying this to see how it works out, I’m confused, I’m trying to get clarity, I’m hoping all my explorations will come together to represent a meaningful life.

Today, on this birthday, I’m taking a moment to celebrate and inviting you to join me: to celebrate the journey, to celebrate Self unfolding, to celebrate awakening awareness that allows us to witness Self unfolding, to celebrate uncertainty, to celebrate parenthood and childhood in all their forms and ages, to celebrate kindness and compassion, to celebrate the surprises of the unexpected. To celebrate Life.

What would you like to celebrate?  Please share!

CONNECTING THE DOTS

Connect-the-dot puzzles have always had a kind of fascination for me.  You connect dot 1 to dot 2 to dot 3 and so on, and a picture emerges. Magical!

But what happens when the dots are out there with no numbers to guide you?  How do you connect those dots?  My husband says I connect dots where there aren’t even any dots to connect!

If we are all One, then we are all connected.  Let’s connect and see what pattern emerges!