Sunday, September 30, 2012

Knowing Where You Are Going

Turning and re-turning
The other day Sue asked me if, with all my many contemplations and commenting  on ”turning points,” ” turning” and “re-turning,” since our last Abkhazian Dinner, I could describe where or what I was turning from and to what or where I experienced myself moving toward.

That was, indeed, an apropos question of me. And one I am glad she asked. Certainly the word “turn” does signify a change of position; a movement, often involving a rotation, as in turning a doorknob.  So where have I been and where am I headed, if I am not simply going in circles?
I have a definitive map of where I am going. I can see that map clear as day in my mind’s eye since returning to mainstream life after my recovery from blindness (2006).  There was so much to see when I was blind. And, I do my best to share the gifts I brought back from the experience. One of the most important ones for me is that though I often come upon detours, I almost always know where I’m going, now, as far as the destination is concerned. And, I know who’s going with me.

Thinking global,
acting local
However, as clear as my destination is for me, I am at a loss as to how to express it concisely to others. But let me try it this way today.

I am heading for Jerusalem, traveling with anybody and everybody who is going there too. Not the Jerusalem, mind you, of my growing up years in a family raising me to be an observant Jew. That was the Jerusalem of “making aliyah;” returning to Israel, the land of the exodus of the Jews to which the Bible tells us to return.  I doubt I will ever visit that Jerusalem though I did set out for it, once, a long, long time ago.
My Jerusalem is, among other things, the state of mind one reaches when experiencing awe or wonder. I know this place to be my real home so I write of it often on the New Horizons blog site; the top of the Mountain of Awe. I know the pathway home so very well that I will, at times, when conditions are right, offer myself as aguide, though I am most often living only halfway up this mountain on a day to day, down to earth basis.

I can, generally, reach this magical peak readily on my own.  Yet traveling this path to wonderment with only oneself (even with Divine connection to light one’s way) is truly not enough. I share the yearnings of many people I have interviewed in our Possible Human, Possible Society Study, I hunger for this at-one-ment with everyone I can find.  
Lucky me to have designed the Possible Human, Possible Society Study. One year into it I have been blessed to find so many others with whom I can travel. Since I began translating the design I created for the study in 2009 and putting it into action, I have discovered that, without conscious intent, through this study I am deliberately placing my next steps and the ones after that and on and on actively seeking traveling companions to the higher realms of human endeavors. So it has turned out to be and so it is; life is with people. That’s where it really begins.

However, the BIG lesson of my turning this year has to do with which people and how to be with them to reach the peak of the Mountain of Awe. Nay, nay for the Pretender Peace Buddies, up close. They are the challenge. Never the door to be shut in one’s heart, but if mindful of going for the gold, one must be discerning to travel with the choicest of companions, day by day.
Somehow all this; turning points, turning and re-turning, reminds me of words written by T.S. Eliot  in the “Four Quartets”…

And the end of all our exploring

will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.
So my answer to Sue’s question, I believe, is that I am always returning home to myself, as if it was some very new place to be. And,  seeking, always, to share that space with like-minded others.  Breaking bread, once more, as if it that was what we had always been intended to do.

The irony that strikes me, however, is how difficult and unfamiliar this road back to where we began can sometimes seem. And, how challenging it is when we are out of step on the trail with others we care about.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Former Anti-Semitic Recovering Jewish American Princess


Today summer, officially, turns to autumn, this day of the Autumn Equinox. Already summer heat is giving way to the crisp, cool of Fall. The nights and the mornings after are chill, but not so cold yet that we rearrange our morning habits; the eagerness to check the bird feeder's supply and a cup of tea outside on the deck.

Only a pair of sweats and a sweater are added to ensure our comfort now. Thus the seasons of the year turn, as the Jews of the world, too, put their hearts and minds to turning.

It is decreed by the ancient texts of Judaism that our tribe be called at this time to turn ourselves to review and repentance. Our designated ten days of repentance; also known as the “ten days of awe,” began last week. We have until next Wednesday to get with the program.   

One of my most important reviews continues to be the whys and the wherefores of my former anti-Semitism. Reading the prayer book of these High Holy days I am relieved to see that G-d wishes only for sinners to return to the path of righteousness; my sin here, apparently, being my renouncing my Jewish heritage.

It is stated – “YOU wait for him/her. Whenever he/she returns, YOU welcome him/her at once.”

This year I am so “returned” I actually made it to the synagogue to hear these oft-repeated words, reminding me that, now, having turned myself toward my Jewish heritage, I am apparently off the hook from being a sinner. The hardest part, I think now, wasbeginning the  “re-turn.” Then the surprise; while I had turned my back on my heritage, somehow Judaism still held a rightful place for me.

In retrospect, I think my turning away had much to do with Jewish injustices in Israel, as I perceived them.  My leave-taking exacerbated by the fact that I had not until recently found other like-minded Jews with whom to commiserate. The internet, thank goodness, changed that for me.
No longer alone with my views, I am, at last, resolved on my stance and public about it,  diplomatically and with discrimation, learning, too, to speak out about my views on Israel, as well as, on other Jewish matters. In the process I am removing several die-hard masks I was wearing instead of speaking my piece.

Off comes the mask that said nothing about the subject of Israel and what it means to me to be a JewishAmerican (or is that an American Jew?) as well as the mask with the bleached blonde hair, a persona of trying to “pass” as not Jewish that I took up in college and continued until my hair started to fall out from the bleach in my late twenties.
And, off comes the mask that shows you only the seat of my pants as I take off and flee to avoid the tensions and conflicts that can arise when expressing controversial views of my own.

"Walk tall,” one of my spirit sisters reminds me. And, I discover that I rather like that position, being vocal about the values I hold dear to my heart, resolving to do more and more of this taking a stand for what I believe, as the Jewish New Year, 5773, unfurls.
Can this way be any more troublesome for my loved ones and myself than had been my former going away?

I am beginning to suspect not. Already I am gaining a few rewards for the staying; the leaning into rather than away. Still, I will need, now, to “just keep swimming” as Dore, the fish, says in “Finding Nemo” and see what happens for me – “Next year in Jerusalem.”

Monday, September 3, 2012

Here I Stand

Turning into my future
Face to face with my future, here I stand. Fourteen years later, almost to the day, here I stand, marking the day I lost my eyesight, Labor Day week-end, 1998.
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,"
Remembering: the losses in my family life at that time, unrelated, perhaps and perhaps not, to losing my eyesight. Book publishing pressures.

And, once again, an American president’s mendaciousness, bold faced lies, to the American people; Bill Clinton, not long after his infamous Map Room speech. 

Here I stand: yearning, an American citizen, joined with other Americans with hopes and dreams for a beautiful future.

Here I stand: remembering. Loss, disappointment, anger, grief, coping while another president, Richard Nixon, lies.

Here I stand, wiser, matured, no longer dependent on presidents to be good daddies, banner carriers for my outgrown childhood images of Washington and Lincoln, cheery trees cut down, as symbols of leadership. A daughter, a wife, a mother, a teacher, a healer, a guide, a researcher, listening to stories that build pathways to peace; hopes and dreams from other passionate Americans for a country united in beauty and service.

Here I stand, noting a collective maturing. Disappointment, loss, resentment, anger, grief, short-lived, transformed into personal actions, decisions to reject deceit and find a better way. No longer the naïve children we once were, like myself, raised to believe in the virtues of presidents long gone

No longer the adolescents inspired by Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr, the seekers lifted by Gandhi.

Here I stand and here we stand on our own two feet, rooted in American soil, united in our yearnings for ideals and values we have grown on our own. The embodiment of the heritage of the American Dream as it sings in our own hearts and our souls; grown up now to turn our hopes and our dreams into realities.

No longer are we eager young idealists or wide-eyed believers. Still our ideals are intact. And, we are together – from the bottom up, groundswell builders of our collective futures.

Here I stand, grateful beyond words and measure that I can see this, but even more that I/we have never lost our vision.

America the beautiful, I am so grateful to stand on this soil.

America, the beautiful, here I/we stand turning into our future, spiraling upward with our own good sense.

Labor Day means this to me.

Here I stand.

And, “Here I stand,” says she, greeter for my grandparents with their hopes and their dreams for the freedoms we have come to expect.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

American Dreams

I said it before and I will say it again. I do not want to vote for Barak Obama. But I will, as selling my vote on e bay is not a viable option, neither is voting for a third party ticket or not at all. And, now that the GOP convention has shown us its best of the Romney/Republican ticket, it would turn my innards upside down to vote Republican. I would, additionally, feel as if I had betrayed all that I was raised to believe. So, by default, a Democrat vote it will be again.

So here I sit, coming right up on the November election 2012, reflecting on the road that has brought me here since election 2008. I don’t know what the journey from 2008 to 2012 has been for you, but for me it has been quite an education and an adventure.
For freedom and the streets
paved with gold

I set off for South America not long after that election with a total wait and see attitude about Obama though more than ready to do my part to work for the “American Dream” into which I was born and raised. The streets paved with gold that brought my immigrant grandparents here, not the least of which was to save our family from the Russian slaughter of our people, was a life-saving blessing; American citizenship an honor.

Eager to join with others to mobilize the grassroots platform upon which I thought Obama stood, wearied of George W. and company and yet still cautious I did look forward, slightly, to the possibility a new American era, after the elections in 2008. Might it not be that images of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and, of course, JFK might now come to our native shores? Especially if we could finally put the Civil War to rest with an African American in the White House.

I had spent my entire adult life in or around the periphery of Washington, D.C., coming here as I did, originally, for Camelot. I had sat nearby in the Maryland suburbs with my infant child, as JFKs funeral procession made its way down Pennsylvania Avenue, my young husband filming the procession from atop a government building.

I had watched Washington burn that anguished night of Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination in April, 1968, praying forever after that America could recapture the collective unity I thought we seemed to have lost that day (an illusion I now realize), yet feeling as though we, possibly had lost more than we could ever hope to regain. But like much of contemporary America, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and then Watergate seemed to pound in the final nails of the coffin of our “American Dream.”

There seemed to be no end to the losses and discouragement. Now a flicker of hope that I was called to consider. I would not turn aside. Obviously idealism runs thick in my blood.

Besides, what had I to lose, now, by sticking close to what had become my home territory, hoping, just a little, that this soil would, at last, offer itself up as fertile for a healthy new growth potential?

But, I had, also, been around Washington too long to take a political platform very seriously. Setting aside assassinations as a deciding factor for potential outcomes, folks I met in South America spurred my considerations for a healthy U.S.A. future. After all, as I had seen in Ecuador, we must have something in the U.S.A. For one thing, we could be relied upon, consistently, to outfit our bathrooms with toilet paper. I extolled this virtue, many times over, in the close to two months I spent in Ecuador. Toilet paper in bathrooms, regularly; that says something for the U.S.A., doesn’t it?

By the time I returned home to the conveniences of American soil, having been edified by the Ecuadorians I had met; mostly a hearty well-educated group, to be sure, I was, once again, prepared to ask myself anew, “What can I do for my country?” This new president just might herald in a new American politics. After many decades off to the sidelines, wasn’t it time for me to finally join in with the game while I was still young enough to play?

Loss and discouragement with our politics did not need to last forever, I told myself. Now I would take a new course and offer myself up full force to join grassroots activities. Perhaps even find a niche for New Horizons while I was at it. No more counterculture reactivity for me. A new era might be upon us.

Ever curious about people and the evolutionary processes and dynamics of a society in motion, soon after my arrival home I, soon, set out to discover how “we the people” could, collectively, support this new president and his idealistic platform for the coming American Dream. After all, we never had had the chance before to fully carry forth dreams such as Kennedy’s (or even those of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Great Society for that matter).

Thus the Possible Human, Possible Society Study was birthed. How might we achieve this possibility of a possible society in motion? I felt inclined to systematically explore the idea, watch as the possible society in motion unfolded. If we, or, at least most of us, remained alive for the next four year term might we not really begin to fulfill the potential for our “American Dream”?

More comments to come on my education and adventures through the Obama era.

How has it been for you, this adventure of the past four years? It most likely was not a nothing to you either. Tell us your stories too.