Lighting a Candle

It is a Jewish custom to light a memorial candle year after year on the anniversary of a loved one’s death. The candle burns for twenty-four hours and is a reminder of the life that was lost and the love that will never die. I recommend this ritual to all those who are searching for a lasting way to sanctify the memory of a loved one.                                  ~Rabbi Naomi Levy

I’ve been at a loss for words this week, searching for some way to talk about the loss of yet another young life lost too soon.

As the days passed and memories streamed across my mind, I prayed for her family.

In reality, that’s all any of us can do.

When I read about the Jewish tradition of lighting a candle on the anniversary of the loss of a loved, I felt so much peace. For me, this seems like the perfect way to remember a loved one. As All Soul’s Day is tomorrow, I think the timing is perfect.

Maybe this tradition will give you peace as well?

A Memorial Prayer  

I haven’t forgotten you, even though it’s been some time now since I’ve seen your face, touched your hand, heard your voice. You are with me all the time. I used to think you left me. I know better now. You come to me. Sometimes in fleeting moments I feel your presence close by. But I still miss you. And nothing, no person, no joy, no accomplishment, no distraction, not even God, can fill the gaping hole your absence has left in my life. But mixed together with all my sadness, there is a great joy for having known you. I want to thank you for the time we shared, for the love you gave, for the wisdom you spread. Thank you for the magnificent moments and for the ordinary ones too. There was beauty in our simplicity. Holiness in our unspectacular days. And I will carry the lessons you taught me always. Your life has ended, but your light can never be extinguished. It continues to shine upon me even on the darkest nights and illuminates my way. I light this candle in your honor and in your memory. May God bless you as you have blessed me with love, with grace, and with peace. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration (pp. 220-222). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

A Monday Afternoon Prayer

You have blessed me with many gifts, God, but I know it is my task to realize them. May I never underestimate my potential; may I never lose hope. May I find the strength to strive for better, the courage to be different, the energy to give all that I have to offer. Help me, God, to live up to all the goodness that resides within me. Fill me with the humility to learn from others and with the confidence to trust my own instincts. Thank You, God, for the power to grow. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration (pp. 225-226). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~ 

 

Remembering

“It sucks that we miss people like that. You think you’ve accepted that someone is out of your life, that you’ve grieved and it’s over, and then bam. One little thing, and you feel like you’ve lost that person all over again.” 

Rachel Hawkins, Demonglass

I don’t think time means much when it comes to grief.

Twelve years ago last week I said good-bye to my sister, Beth, for the last time. Even after all this time I miss her every day.

A prayer written by Rabbi Naomi Levy fits days like these perfectly.

A Memorial Prayer  

I haven’t forgotten you, even though it’s been some time now since I’ve seen your face, touched your hand, heard your voice. You are with me all the time. I used to think you left me. I know better now. You come to me. Sometimes in fleeting moments I feel your presence close by. But I still miss you. And nothing, no person, no joy, no accomplishment, no distraction, not even God, can fill the gaping hole your absence has left in my life. But mixed together with all my sadness, there is a great joy for having known you. I want to thank you for the time we shared, for the love you gave, for the wisdom you spread. Thank you for the magnificent moments and for the ordinary ones too. There was beauty in our simplicity. Holiness in our unspectacular days. And I will carry the lessons you taught me always. Your life has ended, but your light can never be extinguished. It continues to shine upon me even on the darkest nights and illuminates my way. I light this candle in your honor and in your memory. May God bless you as you have blessed me with love, with grace, and with peace. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration (p. 222). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

A Day When Words Fail

May God heal you, body and soul.
May your pain cease,
May your strength increase,
May your fears be released,
May blessings, love and joy surround you.
Amen.
-Rabbi Naomi Levy
Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle and Celebration

Today I learned the son of a woman I adore committed suicide.

I have no words.

As I write I’m sending love and prayers to Debbie, Russ, and the rest of their family. Please know you will be in my prayers today and in the days to come. May we all be comforted by the memories we have of this “outstanding” young man.

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

 

Lighten Up

You have a unique gift to offer this world. Be true to yourself, be kind to yourself, read and learn about everything that interests you and keep away from people who bring you down. When you treat yourself kindly and respect the uniqueness of those around you, you will be giving this world an amazing gift… YOU!” 

Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

It’s been great hearing from other first borns since I posted my story yesterday. We certainly share many of the traits I mentioned as well as a lot of guilt. We do take charge and set very high expectations for ourselves. Perfectionism is a hard taskmaster and failure is not an option. Being kind to ourselves is foreign to us and something we have to work hard to learn.

It’s going to take time. With a little patience and help from each other, I think we can learn how to live a more balanced life and “lighten-up.”

May Rabbi Levy’s prayer help us all.

A Prayer When We Are Too Hard on Ourselves  

Teach me how to love myself, God. I am so critical of myself. I set such high standards for myself. I accept shortcomings in others, but I am so unforgiving of myself. Help me, God. Teach me how to enjoy my life. Remind me to be kind to myself. Show me how to embrace the person I am. Lead me to appreciate all the miracles that surround me each day. Soften my heart, God; open my eyes. Fill me with the capacity to treasure my life. Thank You, God, for creating me as I am. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration 

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

 

 

Still Standing

“No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side.

Or you don’t.” 

Stephen King, The Stand

A quote from one of my favorite books, The Stand. This book caused me to lose many hours of sleep–not just once but several times over the years. Even after all these years there are still times when I get anxious when I’m watching a newscast and the announcer starts to cough. Noooooo……

This week has certainly seemed like some type of endurance test. I am thankful to say I’m still standing and mostly smiling.

I was skimming Rabbi Naomi Levy’s book, To Begin Again, in search of something to add to my story today. When I found this segment of Chapter 8, The Comfort of Prayer, I knew I needed to pass it on.

     “Often people who are in trouble ask me to pray for them or their loved ones. They say, “Rabbi, I don’t know how to pray.” But anyone can pray. There are, of course, the prayers that were written long ago by our ancestors and have been codified into liturgy. But there are also the spontaneous prayers that flow from our hearts. They might not appear to be as beautifully crafted, but they are infused with an eloquence that is just as powerful–the passion of a soul crying out. A prayer does not have to be a ritualized, structured piece of writing. Anything that comes from the heart, that we communicate to God, can be a prayer.

     There are petitionary prayers where we ask God to help us There are prayers of repentance where we turn to God after having transgressed. There are prayers of protest where we cry out in anger, and there are prayers of gratitude for blessings. There are daily prayers and once-in-a-lifetime prayers, communal prayers and individual prayers. There are long, drawn-out prayers and prayers of just one word: “Help,” “Thanks,” “Sorry.”

     There are prayers with no words at all. They are the thoughts that we don’t even have to utter. Hager and her son Ishmael were lost in the desert, dying of hunger and thirst. The Bible tells us that God heard the cry of the child. Nowhere in the narrative does it say that the child cried out to God. So how could God hear the cry? The answer, according to one interpretation, is that there are cries that are silent and are heard by no one. But God hears even our silent cries. 

     Every one of us has a different prayer on our lips. Some of us cry out in bitter protest. Some whisper a secret longing. Others weep in pain. Our needs may be vastly different, but ultimately all our prayers contain the same yearning: a desire to be heard.

     In our daily lives we are so often misunderstood. We carry thoughts within us that no one knows, hopes that have never been voiced, confession that are too terrible to speak of, yearnings that are too deep to share with even those who are closest to us. And so we pray in the hope that God will listen and accept us in all our frailty, in all our end, in all our failings. 

     Each of us has a prayer in our hearts. A prayer of singular importance. Chances are we will only find it by opening our hearts and speaking directly to God. When the moment is right, close your eyes. Take a deep breath, and as you breathe out, relax. Without censoring or editing, look inside yourself. Look deep down inside. Find the prayer of your soul. Tell God your pain, your hope, your rage. Tell God your secret. Tell God what you need to say and listen for a reply. 

 A Prayer

God, I need to know that You are with me; that You hear my cry. I long to feel Your presence not just his day but every day. When I am weak and in pain, I need to know You are beside me. That in itself is often comfort enough. I do not pretend to know Your ways, to know why this world You have created can be so beautiful, so magnificent, and yet so harsh, so ugly and so full of hate. The lot You have bestowed upon me is a heavy one. I am angry. I want to know why: why the innocent must suffer, why life is so full of grief. There are times when I want to have nothing to do with You. When to think of You brings nothing but confusion and ambivalence. There are times, like this time, when I seek to return to You, when I feel the emptiness that comes when I am far from You. Watch over me and my loved ones. Forgive me for all that I have not been. Help me to appreciate all that I have, and to realize all that I have to offer. Help me to find my way back to You, so that I may never be alone.   Amen.”

May Rabbi Levy’s words comfort you as they comforted me.

Have a safe and joyous weekend.

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

The Unexpected

“The expected always happens” 

Benjamin Disraeli

It was the coolest morning we’d had in weeks. A great day to take the dogs for a walk.

All of us were excited–it’s been hard on us–we all LOVE our daily walks.

The five of us are quite a sight, meandering back and forth across the narrow streets of our subdivision. This morning in particular we were all looking around at the changes that’d happened since we’d walked last–all those new smells had three canine noses pinned to the ground.

We’d gone about half a block when I noticed our Tibetan Terrier, Ruby, was on the trail of something especially interesting. Her nose was quickly scanning the area but came to an abrupt stop. She cocked her head to the side and shook it back and forth rapidly–then trotted off giving out a sharp cry. Her trot was awkward because she was favoring her right front paw. Something was wrong–

The reason became clear as Michael lifted her paw. As he brought up it up off the ground, a large black bumble bee fell to the ground.

Oh boy–she’d been stung and she was in pain.

Luckily, Michael was there to carry her home. Once we checked her out, we soaked her paw, iced it, and gave her Benadryl and pain meds. She’s definitely more comfortable but not quite okay–yet.

So, we’ve been on Ruby watch today. Not a bad assignment and one that could have resulted in some extra reading time. Honestly, all I’ve done is watch her and attempt to write a word or two.

I did find a prayer to share, though, and I think it is lovely.

Master of the Universe,

grant me the ability o be alone;

may it be my custom to go outdoors each day

among the trees and grass, among all growing things, 

and there may I be alone, and enter into prayer, 

to talk with the One that I belong to. 

May I express there everything in my heart,

and may all the foliage of the field, 

all grasses, trees, and plants,

may they all awake at my coming,

to send the powers of their life into the words of my prayer

so that my prayer and speech are made whole

through the life and spirit of all growing things,

which are made as one by their transcendent Source.

(Translated by Rabbi Shamai Kanter)

Rabbi Naomi Levy, To Begin Again

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Information Overload

“Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life – it has given me me . It has provided time and experience and failures and triumphs and time-tested friends who have helped me step into the shape that was waiting for me. I fit into me now. I have an organic life, finally, not necessarily the one people imagined for me, or tried to get me to have. I have the life I longed for. I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I would be.”

Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

I talked with my insurance broker today about Medicare and supplimental insurance.

My-oh-my!

She was excellent, sharing stories while giving me so much information filled with sound advice. To say my mind is on overload is an understatement.

One this cloudy Friday afternoon, I want to share a prayer by Rabbi Levy. I love reading her words. Whatever is going on in my life, she finds a way to speak to my soul. I hope you find solace as well.

God, I need to know that You are with me; that You hear my cry. I long to feel Your presence not just this day but every day. When I am week and in pain, I need to know You are beside me. That in itself is often comfort enough. I do not pretend to know Your ways, to know why this world You have created can be so beautiful, so magnificent, and yet so harsh, ugly, and so full of hate. The lot you have bestowed on my is a heavy one. I am angry. I want to know why; why the innocent must suffer, why life is do full of grief. There are times when I want to have nothing to do with You. When to think of You brings nothing but confusion and ambivalence. And there are times, like this time, when I seek to return to You, when I feel the emptiness that comes when I am far from You. Watch over me and my loved ones. Forgive me for all that I have not been. Help me to appreciate all that I have, and to realize all that I have to offer. Help me to find a way back to You, so that I may never be alone.   Amen 

Rabbi Naomi Levy, To Begin Again

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

A Morning Prayer

Re-sharing from a few months ago because I ran into some of the same challenges today. 

I fell behind on my to-do list today.

I’ve learned there is no way to push or rush my thoughts into words.

Maybe I have Spring Fever? It certainly feels like Spring is in the air today!

Today I’ll share a Morning Prayer from Rabbi Levy. This will give me some time to gather and sort through my thoughts.

I’ve been reading a lot of material on memoir writing these past few weeks. It is interesting and encouraging to read other writers have experienced some of the same types of angst I’ve encountered lately.

Yes, my friends, I’m being assigned another round of lessons on patience, self-awareness, and perseverance.

A Morning Prayer

There are so many things I take for granted. May I not ignore them today. Just for today, help me, God, to remember that my life is a gift, that my health is a blessing, that this new day is filled with awesome potential, that I have the capacity to bring something wholly new and unique and good into this world. Just for today, help me, God, to remember to be kind and patient to the people who love me, and to those who work with me too. Teach me to see all the beauty that I so often ignore, and to listen to the silent longing of my own soul. Just for today, help me, God, to remember You. Let this be a good day, God, full of joy and love. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration (pp. 23-24). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Thanks once again to Kimberly Salimeno for letting me borrow one of her great photos. Love you, my friend.      

 

 

 

A Prayer for Insight

There are days when all ideas stall. Today was one of those days.

Lucky for me, I have a Rabbi to help me.

Thank you, Rabbi Naomi Levy, for your encouraging words and allowing me to share your prayer for insight.

A Prayer for Daily Insight

Open my eyes, God. Help me to perceive what I have ignored, to uncover what I have forsaken, to find what I have been searching for. Remind me that I don’t have to journey far to discover something new, for miracles surround me, blessings and holiness abound. And You are near. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration (p. 31). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~