The Right Way

You tell me
I don’t know
Enough
The right way
How to connect to G!d

While you have been
memorizing the words
of other men
I’ve been dreaming with Her
Dancing and building,
sneaking out to the meadow at night
for a secret rendezvous

She teaches me daily
to access new rooms
new libraries of knowledge
new galaxies of inspiration
living between my atoms

We who are not invited to class
study in her womb
All her creations teach us
Our fingers still reach out to touch
We’re still sampling the garden’s fruits

You who shush me
as I sing Shabbas songs
through the streets
of the Old City
You’re welcome at this banquet

As we unlock the gates
and discover new wells
We are overflowing

I don’t know
enough
The Right Way
how to connect to G!d

You’re right
Only so long as
you can keep me
from knowing myself.

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Tiny Home on the Prairie

Those of you who’ve been with me from the beginning of this journey may recall an interview I did with my friend Connor in September. Visiting him in Stevens Point, WI at the start of his final semester of forestry school, I asked him to share about his plans to build an off-the-grid ‘tiny home’ and small farm with his fiancee Claire. Congratulations to them both on their graduation!

Connor is now out on family-owned land in South Dakota laying some of the groundwork for the homestead while Claire helps her mother plan details for their wedding this year. He’s already been hard at work building a mailbox, learning to grow food, and experimenting with aquaponics! I’m fascinated by their blog…the photos, hearing about the ins and outs of prairie life, and the inspiring and grounding energy I feel from both Connor and Claire.

I’m grateful to these beautiful souls for taking a courageous step toward living in harmony with the Earth, and for their commitment to sharing what they learn both throughout the experience and through their careers. I offer prayers and blessings for them in their work, their learning, and their love. I also offer prayers for the natives of South Dakota and all lands whose way of living in right relationship with our mother Earth has been so violated. May Connor and Claire’s efforts be part of a mass-awakening, an understanding of what colonialism and capitalism have stolen from our humanity, and a rededication to wholeness and justice. As much as I’m in awe of them, I struggle with the knowing that the devastating results of colonialism and capitalism remain and continue to manifest even in such a beautiful project. I don’t have any answers, only the prayer that their presence on the land be a blessing to that ecosystem and to our world. May their work be for the highest good of all beings. And may it be both full of reverence, and PLAYFUL! So much love.

Connor and his brother Mateusz with the mailbox they built

Sky Walker Moves Through Realms

Yesterday I awoke and, staying horizontal in bed, reached for my dream journal. Memories of elusive moments just out of reach from the density of waking, like happily rising balloons going home, with frayed ribbons almost in my grasp.

A dream came back, decided to stay.
I was outdoors with my kohenet sisters waiting for a guest teacher to arrive. I looked up at the sky and gasped
The most amazing bird
Wingspan of eight feet
Glorious
Graceful
Like no bird I’d seen
An eagle?
Grandfather my heart sang
He flew lower
No, not an eagle…
Lower
Floating
Hovering
Sitting before me
A Native American elder
Kind eyes, purest soul, stillness and wisdom
He didn’t speak but transmitted,
“Sky Walker”
He was our teacher! I was giddy and reverent and yearning.
We orbited one another.

Hours later, I walked home from work
The first time my feet flirted with this path
I looked up at the sky, thinking of my teacher.
I looked down.

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B’rucha At Shekhina, who grounds me.

Dear Ones,

I write to you
from
MY BED.
In a room I can stay in as long as G!ddess wills it
In an apartment where I pay rent
with a paycheck I receive
in a holistic workplace.
BRUCHA HASHEKHINA! G!ddess is gracious!

I moved to Berkeley yesterday, two blocks from my community acupuncture clinic, six blocks from the friends with whom I’m co-creating a California chapter of our beloved MN nonprofit Face Forward, seven blocks from Berkeley Bowl, and within a mile of many of my other friends. It’s really happening!

It’s interesting to watch the impulse to attach and to go right into ego mode: mine, mine, mine! Control, control, control! I have many dreams for my new space. I’m also cultivating patience, presencing as often as I remember to that sweet spaciousness that says: You have all the time you need. Always. And, as great as it is to have a space to ground/replenish/explore/express, my four months of traveling taught me that these things (jobs, houses, routines) are not ultimately us.

After work today I lay on the floor of my new bedroom and spoke to my mentor on speakerphone. We investigated my relationship with anger and boundaries, and she reminded me that I’ve been in an intense playground of boundaries as I’ve co-habited others’ spaces. She reflected that without a space over which I have sovereignty, I’ve had to really ground in myself, and I did so with beautiful imperfect grace. There were days in the past few months that I felt incredibly alive and authentic. There were days I had no idea who I was or what I wanted. I’m learning to recognize and honor my desires…it’s a delicious, exciting, and surprisingly terrifying journey.

Why is it so scary to know what I want and ask for it?
Is it because I have this Buddhist-influenced mental loop playing that says “Desires?? Suffering! Bad!”?
Is it that I learned from my adult role models that to be in harmony with those around me, I must ignore what I feel and want?
Is it a layer of internalized oppression from a misogynistic, heteronormative, conformity-encouraging society?
Is it my Pisces martyrdom and self-sacrifice?
Is it a piece of the puzzle of human re-membrance, a confrontation we all make with the self as we evolve spiritually?

I can tell myself whatever story I want about the pain that lives in my connective tissues, the tightly held animal self so often found in fetal position, shivering and flinching at the touch of the world. Ultimately she is mine to approach, to offer my hand in love and reverence, and to coax as she allows me. In the act of showing up to meet myself with true love and respect, I embody shekhinah. I allow the divine presence in the physical world to flow through me and know herself, cycling in infinite spiral time between everything and nothing, everywhere and nowhere.

Words get tangled and lose their source. I’ve wrapped the threads of my life in a ball so I could take it with me at a moment’s notice. I’m thankful for the space to unwind, to trace back, to spread myself out and see the patterns my spirit weaves. For now, I’ll trust my dreams to undress these layers.

With love and strength,

Rivka

Release

A poem I wrote on Kohenet retreat last week…
[Kohenet is Hebrew for “priestess”. I’m one of about 18 women going through the first west coast training in embodied, earth-based, transformative Jewish leadership and ritual arts.]

January 21, 2015

Tears come
the wounded place says
Dam them up
I let them drip their way down my body
held in cupped hands by the prayers of my sisters

Words come
the wounded place says
Write them down
I let them weave deeper into muscle memory
so my dance becomes testimony

Spirit comes
the wounded place says
Hold on tight
I let her whisper and pass through
stillness holding holy echoes

for so long the wounded place
has directed
walled herself in, encircled by her pain
wanting to know it so deeply she forgot
She lives in wholeness

In this circle of sisters
mothers
grandmothers
ancestors
Goddess
fingertips touching
transmitting invitation
To come in truth
The door opens
And I dance through

Emergency Forest Aid

This week has been one of deep joy, panic, miracles, doubt, and blessing throughout. One of the miracles of the week that inspires me onward: I’ve been hired in the dream part-time job I applied for before I went to Mount Shasta! I reluctantly withdrew my application, following my intuition to go to Shasta, and was called back to the Bay Area the same day my employer returned from Turkey with the position still open!! I am the Assistant to the Provost of the Starr King School of the Ministry in Berkeley, a school for spiritual leadership for social change. I start Monday, with boundless gratitude and excitement!

By the grace of goddess I was able to sublet a room in the house of my mentor, Kohenet Taya Shere, and the opportunities to process and be supported and witnessed by her were a huge gift. Still, fears crept in, ‘where will I stay after this ends on Thursday? How will ‘I make it’ in this crazy expensive place? Will I be able to meet my basic needs?’ These things feel very real, and ultimately, they are not…one of the deep teachings I learned from Mount Shasta was to recognize the waking dream, to become lucid and explore from my center, knowing everything external to be a reflection/projection of the internal. Just as in a lucid sleeping dream, this opens me to conscious creation of my reality as if it were like Play-doh.

In that moment, the truth was that I was staying in a safe, beautiful space and had nutritious food to eat. I had all I needed and more. Taya suggested I make a compromise with my fears, giving them a space to be heard but with a limit. Perhaps 80% gratitude, 20% fear. One of my tools to shift from fear is to write the medicine song I am needing. These chants become a part of me, a mantra that surfaces as I’m going about my day and especially in times of need. I share them in hopes that they may bring peace to a part in you that also struggles. It’s clear that we are going through this together, this incredible turning in our evolution. All that we can’t take with us into a new paradigm of connection, healing, empowerment and Love is falling away now, and the process can be painful. It brings us face to face with our fears. We look around and see widespread violence, perverted national priorities, subtle and blatant oppression, hunger, homelessness, climate disaster, and essentially destruction of all that is familiar.

What are we creating in its place?

As we explore our personal experience of shadow, we’re challenged to ask (as Shefa Gold suggests, interpreting the story of Rivka/Rebecca and the wrestling of the twins in her pregnant belly): What am I birthing?

I am birthing a self that lives and embodies her spiritual knowing, trusting deeply in shekhina and accessing an inner strength that could only be discovered through the challenges I face. I’m birthing a more compassionate self, aware of suffering and dedicated to learning and sharing self-healing and self-empowerment. I’m birthing a new layer of confidence in myself and the medicine I’m here to share.

I’m co-creating a world of abundance, reverence for all life, and connection to our Source. A world of collaboration, intimacy, and respect. Unconditional love, harmony and justice. A world where we embrace one another for the medicines and gifts we each bring, working together to heal our planet, our society, our bodies and our relationships. 

What are you birthing? What are you co-creating?

In love and solidarity,
Rivka

רב איכה–Reb Ayeka, the Great Where Are You?

The other day I was hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail and somehow my attention came to the anglicized version of my name, Rebecca, which I went by until recently.

Rebecca.

Reb….ecca.

Reb Ayeka.

Reb is a Hebrew term of honor, especially for someone without rabbinic qualifications. Reb and Rabbi both come from the root rav, meaning great, large or many.

Ayeka is the first question asked in the Torah: “Where are you?”, G!d asks Adam and Eve just after they eat from the forbidden tree of knowledge. In one interpretation, this signifies the knowledge of duality. A conception of good and bad, light and dark, right and wrong inherently separates us from unity consciousness which is the love of G!d. We are dispersed, individuated, sent away from the singularity point of the toroidal flow of life. And yet, we are also always located in that Source. When we hear the call of G!d, Ayeka, we have the opportunity not to hide as Adam and Eve do, but to answer like Abraham and Moses and other great souls: “Hineini, here I am.”

Source: The Awakened State (Tumblr) Click to read more about the Torus pattern of energy flow and its implications for our interconnectedness

Source: The Awakened State (Tumblr) Click to read more about the Torus pattern of energy flow and its implications for our interconnectedness

Rivka, my Hebrew name, means The One Who Brings Us Closer. I’ve come to experience this as a call to bring us home, back to the unity of the Source. A couple days ago I released my attachment to a partner, a place, a home, a community and a source of income. I find myself living inside G!d’s question, Ayeka? Hineini. Yes. Relocating myself in my body, in my heart, and once again opening to divine guidance.

Where do I direct my energy? Toward that which gives me joy and inspiration, the places, people and things that make my heart sing and excite the love inside of me. I know intellectually, intuitively and experientially that the natural flow of energy is such that as I give love, I receive love. I trust that Love will take the form of whatever is needed to nourish my being, whether it’s community, food, shelter, money, artistic collaboration, healing, or something I can’t even yet imagine.

And so I find myself within Reb Ayeka
the great question
the multitude, the collective
being called by the Creator
Where are you?
I’m calling YOU
Where are you,
those who are ready
who want to play
to collaborate
to experience the magic of this turning point in evolution?
It’s time to reach into both pockets at once
and hold simultaneously
I am but dust and ashes
The entire world was created for me
This is a time when we ask each other
Where are you?
Are you present here and now,
are you reaching out to co-create the way forward?
Ayeka?
Ayeka?
Hineini.

The Art of Being Lost

December 30, 2014
10pm
Mount Shasta, CA

I’m not exactly lost. I have vision; I just can’t see yet what it looks like, exactly. I’m ready to accept that I don’t know.

Ready to pack up my shawl, to my now-former-partner’s chagrin (maybe he would feel differently if he knew it was a gift from my last partner?), I picked each item off the coffee table it shrouded: the plant our friend Nathan brought when we hosted Shabbat, Natan’s typewriter, a glass with one last sip of water from the Sacramento headwaters…and a book I’d never seen before. I flipped it open to a page with the section title: The Art of Being Lost.

The first time I was seriously lost and accepted it began at that moment of dazzling light and shadow on Cascade Peak, the story with which this book commences…At that moment, my geographical position in the Adironack wilderness was the only way I could locate myself in life. I found myself at the beginning of an indefinite period of knowing neither my career, nor with whom I would go through life (if anyone), nor even what my life was about. I was lost, knew it, possessed a few rudimentary skills and knowledge to help me stay lost, and chose to relax into being lost as best as I could, by not pretending any longer to be a research scientist and by setting off alone, wandering into the west.”

-Bill Plotkin, SoulCraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche

I woke at 5:30am this morning with a hunger that must have been deeper than my belly. After some journaling and job- and house-searching, I tried in vain to fall back asleep. Accepting that it was time to go on this ride, I broke from my paralysis, grabbed the compost bucket and the water jug, and drove the frost-covered Magic Mobile to the headwaters just outside town. Golden sunlight on the wise redwoods invited me into peace. I didn’t have to engage in the drama, didn’t have to despair this as the “last time I’d go to the headwaters”. Yes, the decision to leave Mount Shasta two months early happened quickly on the surface, and the thought of dismantling my life within a day brought up grief. It also excited something vital within me.

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The previous day had been full of surprises. I found myself on the dark side of a pattern that’s been teeter-tottering for weeks now, getting closer and closer to a surrender to the irrational knowing inside of me that even though I’m capable of being happy here, and have been for the most part, my time here is done. I sat on a street corner in downtown Mount Shasta with a medicine-bag-sized Galena crystal I’d just bought and emailed my mentor, who’s been away on pilgrimage in Turkey all month. Writing helped. It usually does.

Taking my peace into my own hands, a daily practice, I decided to go for a hike. On my way home I stopped and talked to my next door neighbor Chris, a kind and handy man with a great memory for names who spends the warmer months clearing and maintaining the Pacific Crest Trail. When I mentioned that I was going for a hike and opened up for suggestions, he naturally offered “The PCT!” Why not?

Bringing my water, my camera and no expectations, I relished each step of the climb from the trailhead in Castella. The trees spoke. I listened, and sang back to them. I remembered myself. I remembered the beauty of playing games and my desire to co-create an adventure with my partner. I was excited to come back together and connect in a way we hadn’t been so much lately.

Life had a different plan. I’ll spare you the details, but we decided by the end of the night to go our separate ways. We’ve been sharing an apartment he rented before he met me, and so I found myself leaving not just my partner but my house, town, community and physical/financial security. Of course, this is precisely what I signed up for. My soul knows exactly what she’s doing, and I have to applaud her for the brilliant selection of experience.

The day before this sudden shift, I pulled this card in a reading where I asked my Spirit Guides about my current spiritual journey. The card implies that Spirit shakes us out of our illusion and comfort in an often uncomfortable and sudden burst of Truth. Creator does this for our liberation; note the Hebrew "yod"s falling from the sky (the first letter of G!d's name).

The day before this sudden shift, I pulled this card in a reading where I asked my Spirit Guides about my current spiritual journey. The card implies that Spirit shakes us out of our illusion and comfort in an often uncomfortable and sudden burst of Truth. Creator does this for our liberation; note the Hebrew “yod”s falling from the sky (the first letter of G!d’s name).

I feared this…I’ve never experienced quite such a voluntary break-up, my last partnership in Israel ending because I had another year of college left in the States. And to have no escape from the pain and awkwardness of being broken up as I packed and got ready to leave…and go where?, I didn’t know. Thank G!d, baruch hashem, I was ‘forced’ to stay present with the situation. Connecting with such honesty felt so good, I had second thoughts about leaving. Fortunately, I’ve chosen to journey with a deeply loving and wise soul, who reminded me that I was right when I sensed our paths diverged at this point. We’ve done our work together, and love now asks us to part. 

I thought about heading back to the Southwest, and perhaps this originates more from a fear of being homeless in a cold place than a true joyous desire to live there. The things I really want are in the Bay: my mentor, Hebrew Priestess training, Jewish Renewal community, inspiring organizations to work with, friends, and passion! I’m being asked to remember why I left Minnesota in the first place: to start a life in the East Bay and learn and grow in a supportive, inspiring environment with my spirit tribe. As always, I attempted to stay open and allow what Source wanted to emerge. I followed that deeper yearning to Mount Shasta, knowing I had a little more traveling to do before settling down and desiring to grow with this awesome man I’d met in Berkeley under the guidance of the Sacred Mountain.

Well, we got exactly what we wished for. Even as our partnership dissolves, we fulfill our commitment to one another by supporting each other’s highest good and connecting in a pure, loving space. I am blessed.

I am also, in some senses, lost. I don’t know for sure what I’m being called to in the physical realm. I know I’m being called to abandon my attachments to what I’ve built here, and remember that the only thing to cling to is the Truth: that G!d is Love and I’m here to be a vessel for that love. Without realizing it, I accomplished what I came here to do. I had exactly the experience my soul desired, and now it desires to leap once again to the great unknown and trust that Source is already catching me. 

I’m “lost”: I’m unemployed, recently single, houseless and unsure of what the future holds. I know and accept that I’m lost. And I have spiritual tools and some physical resources to support me in staying lost for a while.

I’m also more solidly found than I’ve been in weeks. There is no more room for illusion that any of those things, a job or relationship or home, are ME. I am Presence. I AM that voice within that guides me perfectly if I will only listen. Trusting myself and trusting G!d are one and the same because, as the central Jewish prayer the shema teaches, there is Nothing in this world but G!d. The Creator is so kind, she watches for when I get caught up in my unique array of ego and accomplishments and martyrdom and doing things for the sake of being “enough”, and reminds me I am already Here.

So, tomorrow onward to San Francisco. I embrace the gift of a deeper journey into the Art of Being Lost. I give thanks for a perfect, growth-stimulating partnership ending in mutual respect and love. I welcome the coming blessings with excitement and curiosity! Let’s play!

What’s your ultimate Truth?

Throughout our travels and our interviews, Marcos and I asked the question

What’s one thing you know to be true?

Though we asked people of different backgrounds, locations, ages, professions, and perspectives, most answers are different expressions of the same thing.

On this first snowy day in Mount Shasta, California, my winter art cave, I’m reviewing footage of our interview with artist and musician Chances R Good. Here’s his reflection of Truth:

Everything that we see is inside the heart of G!d, always has been and forever will be. There’s no outside to it. There is only one illusion: that there are many things and that we’re one more soul within it. That is the only illusion, that is the only source of suffering, and the only cause of fear. So the one thing I hold true is that if one is to surrender all thought of who and what their morsel is, then they merge back into their natural primordial state. They feel that love, that connection, that Oneness, and they know that all of it has always been an illusion, a great Shakespeare, a roller coaster of beautiful colors and emotions, and nothing more.”

Stay tuned for more updates on the forthcoming film that features him and other insightful souls speaking about the transformation and integration we are all contributing to as we come together for tikkun olam, repairing and nurturing the world!