The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Love, Light And Latkes

 

On Tuesday night as the sun sets and darkness descends, Jews world-wide will call in the light in the form of kindling two candles on a nine limbed candelabrum called a menorah. On the first night, one candle, which is called the shamash (helper)will light the one other and then over the next 7 nights beyond that, consecutively each of the candles will flicker with flame. Chanukah (also spelled Hanukkah) commemorates the re-dedication of the second temple in Jerusalem after it was defiled by Greek invaders. A family of warriors known as the Maccabees successfully led a revolution and reclaimed the city. The holiday is not celebrated specifically as a victory over an enemy, but rather in honoring a miracle. When the light in the temple needed to be re-ignited, there was only enough oil to keep it illuminated for one day. A rider was sent forth to find more oil. In his absence, the menorah was kept aflame for 8 days.

On this holiday, which in the Jewish tradition is minor, but is given greater recognition since it is in proximity of Christmas, we light the menorah, sing songs, play with a top called a dreidel, exchange gifts and eat food fried in oil. Our menorah was filled with rainbow colored candles that was placed on a wooden frame my father made so it would go over the sink and be visible in our front window. The glow could be seen from the street warmly greeting passersby in our multi-cultural neighborhood in Willingboro, NJ , should they happen to venture past our house on a cold winter night.

In my childhood home, all of those were annual occurrences. Excitement would mount as for weeks beforehand, my sister and I would sneak peaks at the brightly wrapped packages that my parents hid under their bed. We would help them grate potatoes for the latkes, using a hand grater that, if memory serves, had belonged to my paternal Russian-born Bubbe. The smell would remain in the house for days after the mounds of yummy treats were long gone. One thing I loved about holidays at our house was that all were welcome at the table, regardless of religious persuasion. Many of our non-Jewish friends and theirs would delight in sharing in my parents’ hospitality. My mother, sister and I had such fun making cookies too. Rolling the dough and pressing dreidel and menorah cookie cutters into it and then sprinkling the already sugary delights with colorful ‘jimmies’ and silver and blue sparkles. We also filled a cookie press with a sweet mixture and create floral like treats that lined up on the silver cookie trays, waiting their turn to be baked to perfection….ahhh….I can smell their luscious aroma even as I am typing these words.

Another memory harkens back from second grade where, when the others made Christmas trees, as one of three Jewish kids in the class, I made a popsicle stick Star of David, painted blue with rainbow colored beads glued onto it. I was so proud to give it to my parents and that they hung it in the front window each Hanukkah. I am delighted to say that they kept this present for the rest of their lives and when my Mom died last November, the star was hanging in her bedroom window.

Last week, we continued the tradition by having our annual Latke Party. My son and I made (we’ve stepped up to a food processor to chop the onions and potatoes) what may have been at least 100 of the savory pancakes, served with applesauce or sour cream. Our friends and family indulged with gusto in between laughing, talking and hugging. A few days afterward, both the love and aroma remain as potent reminders that “A Great Miracle Happened There”.

Happy Hanukkah!

http://youtu.be/3yZ1zxtbOJE Light One Candle by Peter, Paul and Mary

The Birth of the Divine Child

 

The Muse often gifts me with word pictures that come through fully formed and downloaded into my miracle mind. This was one such offering that ‘wrote me’ 7 years ago. I pull it out this time of year and am honored to read it at an annual Solstice event held at my friends Deva and Stan’s home. The ritual involves a meditation, sitting connected to the 30-40 some others snuggled into their cozy living room, dining room and up the staircase. The fireplace holds smoldering wood, as part of the comfort from the winter chill, although the sense of tribe amongst those gathered adds an even greater protection. We then write on a card what it is that we want to release from this year, symbolically placing it into the Yule log that is passed around. Then I read the poem. I know it well and it has become a part of me and yet this year, something odd happened. A few minutes prior to the time, my voice nearly disappeared, as if it had gotten swept away and all I could manage was a squeak, in preparation. Uh oh….I thought I would have to ask someone else to read it instead. Since I speak for a living, anytime my voice goes on vacation, a little bit of panic ensues.  I have been doing more in that realm since my book came out, so I am even more aware of the need for vocal care. As I began, I apologized in advance. Deva handed me the microphone and the woman sitting next to me, placed a bracelet on my arm that had beautiful and apparently healing embued stones on it . At that moment, I was able to ‘turn squeak into sultry’ and even though my voice was a wee bit hushed, the words came through. Now I share them with you:

 

The Birth of   The Divine Child

As winter’s darkness descends, our hearts tremble. But is it of fear or celebration?  Dread of the shadow or anticipation of the Light?   Ask of the voice within that knows all things for what they are. And wait in silence for the answer to arise. Still your mind of the busy chatter that fills it to capacity with all that does not serve.  Within the comfort of the shadow realms, take a moment to look about. Put aside your trepidation, for in truth, there is no cause to hide. We are of that soft shadow just we are of the Light that will soon replace it. In order for new life to spring forth, the seeds of that anticipated growth require the blanket of rich, moist soil to embrace them. The intelligence within those seeds knows that they must lie dormant for a bit. Think that they worry? Not likely, for they are one with nature. They know no separation. So why must we?

 

On December 21st, we welcome the birth of the New Solar year and the onset of winter. God and Goddess dance as one in the forms of the Great Mother and Sun Child. Swirling and soaring, melting the chill from our bones and souls. Enticing us to join in the ballet of Being. Crimson like the blood that flows through our veins, moss green that carpets the earth, feather white that gently blankets the reaching branches, stretching to the heavens, asking for a blessing from All That Is.  The message from the One is of trust that all is well, despite appearances. It is of shifting our focus from darkness to light, from terror to safety, from condemnation to affirmation.

 

As the Light ascends, so too do we.  Rising from the depths of self-doubt into certainty. Expanding from our limited view of what we can do into All that we Are. Surrendering with arms cast wide in the knowing that we will be safely carried into the next moment. Recognizing the sacred in each act of love, each word of support, each thought of kindness. Seeing the Highest in each soul. Embracing what is so.  Cultivating wisdom. Creating from our hearts’ desires. Emboldening our passions. Singing a celestial song with words of Divine origin. Stretching our comfort zones.

And as we do this, we witness the Birth of the Divine Child within us.  Blessed Be.

Edie Weinstein
copyright   2004

 

http://youtu.be/8C4mfpIM7qM  The Winter Solstice Song by Lisa Thiel

The Biggest Tip

 

With permission, I am re-printing a story written by my friend Teri Goggin-Roberts. I heard it this morning at services held at Circle of Miracles, which is an interfaith community in Doylestown, PA. It is my spiritual refuel for the week,  a haven in which to offer and receive sometimes sanity saving energy. The tale was read by Rev. Bob Goodwin as a ‘Spiritual Seed’ which is a feature of our celebrations. May this one take root and grow in your heart and mind.

“At the risk of stating the obvious, it looks like the holiday season is in full swing. Parking lots are overflowing with traffic and normally organized store shelves look ransacked.

Watching all the hustle and bustle this week brought back a memory of a holiday season from long ago. I was sixteen and working as a waitress in a department store restaurant. (Yes boys and girls, before malls had food courts many department stores had restaurants where tired and hungry shoppers could refuel.)

It was my first real job and although I’d been working at the restaurant for months, I was totally unprepared for the insane lunch crowd on the Saturday before Christmas. A line of people waiting for tables snaked out the door. The hostess looked frazzled. Bus boys couldn’t clear tables fast enough and the kitchen staff was grumpy.

My head spun with customer requests… more coffee, no mayonnaise, wheat, not white. I prayed that I could remember it all. On top of everything, the kitchen was so overwhelmed that orders seemed to take forever. I spent a lot of time soothing the tempers of both customers and cooks alike as I ping-ponged in and out of the kitchen.

One man in particular had been waiting for his club sandwich for a very long time. He’d already finished soda refill number two so I couldn’t stall much longer. Finally, his order appeared on the shelf in front of the sandwich cook. I grabbed it and rushed out of the kitchen. Before delivering the food, I decided to bring a third refill so the man would have everything he needed to enjoy his lunch.

I wove my way to the man’s table and put the plate in front of him. And then disaster struck. In my haste to put down the soda, I somehow knocked the (completely full) glass onto the plate.

Over 30 years later, the image of a club sandwich swimming in a pool of soda remains etched in my memory. Words failed me. I stammered an apology and waited for an angry response that never came. The man ended up comforting me!

Red faced and shaky, I cleaned up the table and rushed back to the kitchen. How could I ask an already overwhelmed cook to remake the sandwich? Immediately.

Maybe it was the crazed look in my eye, or the near hysterical tone of my voice, but Gerry-the-sandwich-cook made that sandwich again in record time (God love him). The man finally ate his lunch and left without further comment.

I learned a lot about communication and organizational skills as a waitress. But I also learned something else. On that terrible-horrible-very-bad day, I received the biggest tip of my life (nearly twice the amount of the bill). From who? The club sandwich guy.

His loving act of compassion and kindness still tugs at my heart decades later. It wasn’t logical. I didn’t deserve it. He had every right to be upset but instead of anger, this man gave me empathy, understanding and comfort – the greatest gifts of all.”

 

In my 20′s, while in college and in between college and grad school, I waited tables and know firsthand the hectic pace at which food is prepared and served. Some of my performance anxiety nightmares have taken place in restaurant settings. One time I dreamed that I was responsible for waiting on an entire dining room by myself….YIKES!  I woke up relieved in my own bed, knowing that it was time to relinquish such high expectations for myself.

For the most part, in my waking state server role,  customers were patient when their order got backed up or mixed up. When offered with love and intention, food just tastes better. Knowing Teri as an adult, I can imagine how her light shone through her head spinning overwhelm. The cook and the customer must have seen it too and stepped into their roles in the play that had her ultimately recveiving that big tip; and not just in financial form. It was a potent reminder for me that we are all at God’s table, feasting on our spiritual sustenance. I sense that it is what we all hunger for. Good thing the ‘kosmic kitchen’ is open 24/7.

www.strongandwise.com

On Butterfly Wings

 

 

 

 

My friends Deva and Stan Troy host an annual Solstice gathering in their home, to honor the turning of the seasons and the return of the Light. It is attended by kindred spirits from their various overlapping soul circles. I have been blessed to be part of the tribe for many years and have celebrated with them. One of the highlights is a gift exchange. In most settings, the idea of ‘re-gifting’ is frowned upon, since it might indicate that someone didn’t like something they had and wanted to, on the sly, give it to someone else. In our community, it is considered an even greater gift, since love gets passed along with it. I gathered a few items, including a beautiful light aquamarine shawl that had belonged to my mother Selma, a necklace with a flower on it and a copy of my Bliss Mistress book. When I arrived at the party, I placed it with the other interesting packages on the window seat where they always remain until people choose one that appeals to them.  When the time came to select ours, I picked one that was in a bag  decorated with an angel. Inside of it was a container with a bird and the words Happy Holidays imprinted on it, a book about Goddess energy and Interview With An Angel by Steven Thayer. The other part of the game is to find the person whose gift you received and talk to them about its significance. Mine came from my friend Annette Kroninger for whom angels are a daily part of life.  The person who received the gift from me was my friend Susan Burger.  She had known that my mother had passed and when I told her that the shawl and necklace had belonged to her, her gaze softened. Sitting together, we two motherless daughters spoke of the importance of that kind of nurturing wherever it came from. I then told her about the “Mom Miracles”, many of which involved butterflies, and that the cover of my book has a butterfly on it by my mom’s suggestion. Susan beamed and told me that for her birthday, she had received cards that had butterflies on them. I asked when her birthday was and was amazed but not surprised when she said the words November 26th. That was the day my mother joined my father in their new abode on the Other Side. Goosebumps and a knowing grin. Years ago, that experience would have had a twilight zone quality about it. Now it was simply an ‘of course’.

As Susan was leaving later that night, to walk out of the warmth of Stan and Deva’s home, into the cold of the late Autumn darkness,  she was donning a coat with beautiful embroidery on it. I commented on it and she turned around and I saw yet another affirmation that my mother is never very far away, since the wings of a butterfly spread across Susan’s back.  I could almost feel the butterfly kisses that my mother would plant on my cheek with her eyelashes, as we hugged goodnight.

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