There is no reason to feel lonely. The room is crowded with those that have shaped, guided, and offered me gifts, whether they were invited to or not. Born into a Jewish family I was literally shaped with the thighs of my people. Ashkenazi Jewish thighs. Yiddish, secular, Reform Hebrew School, and stockings the morning of Christmas. I swam in the culture of an assimilated, middle class, 1950’s Jewish American pride.
From our gay elders I was gifted Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual pride which expanded into varied gender nonconforming expressions. Living on lesbian land as a young adult, I floated in the Eel River, learning from and connecting with Mother Earth and her creatures.
I was ordained as a rabbi by Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi, z”l, and his students. I was brought into their chassidic spiritual lineages of the Baal Shem Tov, the Lubavitcher rebbe, Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev and the women mystics we uncovered.
As a hospital chaplain, I was held with love under the loving tutelage of beloved Buddhist/Baptist, AME church, Unitarian Universalist, and Presbyterian supervisors. I became a hospital rabbi for Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, the atheist and the spiritual but not religious. I prayed with Jews who had never prayed in their own words before.
The Mercy Center Catholic nuns taught me how to listen with devotion and how to pray outloud, getting quiet in order to let the voice of God emerge, serving as a Spiritual Companion to those seeking to find the Sacred in their lives.
With my partner, I know joy and play, struggle and return, and dream for more days together. Always finding the unexpected.
With my beloved study partners I pray the text and inhale it into my soul.
Through my writing teachers I unleash the creative unconscious through words. Listening to the still small voice.
From my parents I learned how to think, how to question, how to use my gifts to help others, how to receive the pain of others without dying, and how to care for the elderly.
From my sister who died too soon, I experienced tragedy and made meaning from it. I accompany others who have experienced something similar in their families.
From my daughter there is the eternal dance of closeness and space, and the unspoken connection that has no name.
From Torah, I inherited many ancestors deep within our collective dreams, conflicts, and celebrations. I do not turn away from the difficult reflections of our lives found within our wisdom tradition.
From niggunim, I listen into and feel my heart, and sigh.
The room is full and more keep squeezing in.
Welcoming each guide, I accept their gifts. There is no room for loneliness.
*who is in your crowded rooms?