Beliefnet
The Bliss Blog

Earlier today, I was speaking with someone about a concept that came to me a few years ago, that rings as true in this moment as it did back then. I was in a newly minted relationship with someone after a  series of relationship roller coaster rides that brought with it exhilirating highs and nearly crashing lows, peaks and valleys that had me fastening my seat belt and holding on for dear life. During a phone call that I made as I was taking an afternoon walk, the words “I hold your heart sacred,” came waltzing through my brain in a gender neutral voice. As I shared it with this man, I could hear his smile through the telephone wire, as I remember him responding “I like that.” All these years later, I do hold his heart and our friendship sacred, even as we are no longer in a romantic relationship.

Wikipedia defines the word sacred in this way:  Holiness, or sanctity, is in general the state of being holy (perceived by religious individuals as associated with the divine or sacred (considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion; or inspiring awe or reverence among believers in a given set of spiritual ideas).

In my perception, everything can be painted with the feather touch of the Divine, and raised up to lofty heights; even, and perhaps, especially with people and situations that feel as if they might be lacking that element. In the case of relationships, the question could be posed: What if we held them sacred? My answer would be that we would honor each person in them and accept the core essence of who they are, beyond behavior, as Love incarnate. Now having said that, it doesn’t mean accepting inappropriate or abusive behavior. It does mean looking beyond the surface and seeing, as A Course In Miracles states: “Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help.”~

What does it mean to hold someone’s heart sacred?  To me it translates to respect, honor and compassion. TLC in times of challenge to help ease the pain. Deep listening rather than hurrying to a conclusion about what they are saying. Embracing their view for themselves, even if I can’t quite see it or make sense of it. Being mindful that hearts and lives are fragile and need to be handled with care.

Can we hold the hearts of everyone we encounter, as sacred, even if we disagree with them, even if their choices fly in the face of our deepest convictions, even if they leave a mess in the kitchen, or in our lives?  Even as relationships have shifted, can we beam that devotional light in their direction and wish them well? Can we hold our own hearts sacred and keep our own fire burning?

 

http://youtu.be/EC9YDZZcfY4 Takes My Breath Away by Tuck and Patti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several years ago, I was working as a guidance counselor in the Quakertown, PA school district (K-6) and once a week met with a group of 5th grade girls who, like most tweens, had issues around self image and the ways in which they were viewed vs. the ways in which they wanted to be seen by their peers. Often the conversations would be polarizing….who liked who better, who sided with who, who was prettier, thinner, more popular, ad nauseum. Chances are, if you have any recollection of being a young girl (not sure if this is anything similar that boys go through, as a parallel, who was stronger, smarter, tougher, a better athlete?) then this might sound familiar. In the midst of all of this, one day I called a time out and asked about working on a project together that would focus on self esteem. One of the girls began chanting in a sing songy way….”Self esteem ice cream, self esteem ice cream.”  Brilliant idea, I thought and asked them what that meant to them. They wanted to write a book that would include drawings of themselves doing what they enjoyed doing, with poetry about self esteem.  They never actually completed it, but at least it got them thinking and improving their communication, decreasing the drama and spending time with other girls as well, so they weren’t always in each others’ business.

Fast forward and tonight, I am with a group of women for whom I am facilitating a support group. Spontaneously, before they came in, I wrote those same words on the white board and draw a cartoony ice cream cone. Once the intro part of the group was over, we launched into it. I asked what ice cream symbolized for them and they said sweet, smooth, delicious,  a treat. A great reflection for life, since who doesn’t want to experience those things?  Then I asked about the self-esteem part of the equation and it translated as feeling proud, purposeful, fearless or at least willing to try new things and meet new people, confidence, standing up for themselves. Keep in mind that all of these women were old enough to have tween kids and in fact, do. I wondered if all these years later, they still harbor some of the same fears and feelings that their younger counterparts expressed. The answer would be an unqualified yes for them and for me. One of things we talked about was assertiveness and saying no if we don’t choose to do something we are asked to do. I encouraged them to practice yes and no responses to life in the next week before our meeting. All agreed.

As the Universe was listening, after they left, my son called and asked what time I would be coming home. That generally translates to “On your way home, can you stop and pick up….” My antennae started twitching, I sighed and responded, “Why do you do this, when you could have picked  it during the day since you didn’t go to work until this afternoon?” This was not the first time this has occurred and my ‘good mom’ impulses often kick in and I do it, even though it is late ( Tonight I knew I wouldn’t be leaving the office until after 8:30 and by the time I got home it would be 9:30). This time, Adam interrupted my annoyed train of thought and he said “Mom, if you want to say no, say no. You don’t need to lecture me about what I ALWAYS do. It’s ok if you don’t want to do it.”  WOW!  What a revelation. This therapist, coach, workshop facilitator needs to practice what she preaches sans guilt. My self esteem was elevated by at least 10 points and when I got home, there really was ice cream waiting.

http://youtu.be/8K0qCCfeMAE Ice Cream by Sarah McLachlan

Today is my cousin Jody Rosenblum’s birthday. Dubbing herself my “older and wiser cousin” many years ago, she has been my go-to girl for all manner of adolescent and adult angsts. Her guidance is always grounded, solid, spiritual and often tinged with the Weinstein/Weiner humor gene. Her mother Jeanette and my father Moish were brother and sister whose bond lasts long into the Beyond where they both dwell. My aunt died when Jody was 20 and I was 18, after a long battle with cancer.  That influenced her career choice as a social worker, who now serves in hospice, providing comfort for folks in the end stages of their lives, as well as their families and friends. She really is good at it.  She and her husband Rich, who I actutally knew through social activism circles before he knew Jody, have raised two amazing young men, Aaron and Dan who are socially conscious and do right livelihood work in the world. She has every right to ‘kvell’ (Yiddish for ‘bursting with pride’) over these guys.

We often acknowlege that even if we weren’t related, we would have chosen each other as friends and that we are more similar to each other than we are with our own sisters. We live in the same area and people often ask me if she and I are family, since there is a resemblance.  When we were growing up,  we spent a fair amount of time together. She and her sister Renee were raised in Northeast Philly and when my sister Jan and I would visit, it felt to me, like a magical place. There were a few steps up to the rowhome and once I entered the front door into the vestibule and faced the other door that led into the living room, we would pretend an elevator was taking us up there. The wall length closets felt like an entrance to another dimension, their stall shower in the upstairs bathroom was the first I had ever seen. The alley behind the house was where we would play hopscotch for what would seem like hours. Remembering treats of cherry flavored ice pops and cookies made by her grandmother (her father’s mother) who was called ‘Cookie Bubbe’ for her culinary talents.

We lived together for a year in our twenties; sharing an apartment in West Collingswood, NJ, along with her cat Shayna who would awaken us at night sometimes to the sound of licking and chewing paper. Nightgown dances in the living room to the more pleasant sounds of, I am guessing 60’s Woodstock era music, being silly over who knows what? More recently, we go to music fests, take walks occasionally with her four leggeds, hang out in Doylestown, catch up in between visits and keep each other relatively sane and vertical in the midst of life stuff happening. I treasure my relationship with my cuz and am grateful that we got born into the same goofy family. Happy Birthday Hugs and Smooches!

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIRtrR7LW7g Happy Birthday by Tom Chapin

Today I experienced an inevitable life event; the funeral of a dear cousin whose mother and my grandmother were sisters; two of the thirteen Bernstein siblings who grew up in Philadelphia in the last century. Ron and my mother were first cousins and although they lived in the Overbrook Park section of Philadelphia and we lived in suburban Willingboro, NJ, I have many fond memories of summer visits that brought them to our house. My generation cousins, Ricky, Steve and Teddy were fun playmates and as adults, we have remained in touch, but not nearly as much as our parents’ generation did and only on ‘occasions’ such as weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and on days such as this. The misty chill in the air felt appropriate to our collective emotional state; a palpable sadness that enveloped the gathering of those who loved Ron; this octogenarian who was viewed by all there as a man with a profound devotion to family, a delightful sense of humor and as I discovered when his grandson Eric shared, a connection with nature and a talent for creating finger/shadow puppets on the wall.  We laughed and cried together in recollection. His wife Gladys passed in 1996 and I remember having this thought at her service that as much as I wanted to take away the emotional pain that the family was feeling, I couldn’t and truthfully, had no right to, since grief is personal and ours to experience in our own unique manner. This time, more than 16 years later, I had a different feeling. I watched as their sons, daughters in law, significant others, grandchildren, friends and extended family shed tears that symbolize the abiding connection he had with them and I (and this may sound totally off the wall), felt warmed by it in a way that took the chill away. Noses red from tears and 40 some degree temps, were part of the tribute to the love that wasn’t going anywhere.

I was honored to be asked to be a pall bearer, feeling as if I was standing in for my parents who passed in 2008 (my father) and 2010 (my mother).  As we were carrying the casket to the gravesite, I felt as if they were standing beside me. After we said Kaddish, standing with her and  her parents; two of the few remaining from my parents’ generation, Len and Joyce, my cousin Diane reached out her arm for comfort and I put my head on her shoulder as we watched the casket  being lowered down, recalling all too well, the same scene twice in a cemetary in South Florida where my parents’ bodies found their final resting place. She turned my drippy tears into laughter by saying that she fully expected to see my father hanging around Mt. Sharon cemetary, since “It wouldn’t be a party without Moish.”

When my cousin Rick had called me  a few days ago to tell me that his dad was now with his mom, I reminded him that there would definitely be a wild and wonderful Cousins’ Club reunion in Heaven.  How grateful I feel to be part of a family in which roots go deep, branches reach high and wide and new buds are always blossoming.

This is the song I played at both my parents’ services at which I officiated (my mom actually asked for it) and I offer it Ron and all who love him.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMTKb-pgxGI Keep Me In Your Heart For Awhile- Warren Zevon