Monday, April 27, 2015

Here are some shots of the park I walk through on my way to work. It is not a big park, but I think it's pretty. Sometimes I have time to stop and sit with the trees.

These lads were sailing an electric boat. There is almost always somebody doing something. One day I saw a man training a bird to fly in a circle around him. It is not uncommon to see people doing Tai Chi, and this weekend there was even a small brass band.  Always something.

I am trying to keep alert. Sometimes that comes easily. Sometimes we work at it.

The LORD loves those who hate evil;
he guards the lives of his faithful;
he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
Psalm 97:10

It seems like there are a lot of statements like this in the Psalter. Basically, it says that the good guys are protected and loved and the rest of us fall into the hand of the wicked. That doesn’t seem to bother God too much. 

If you don’t make the grade… Well, too bad.

What about all those people in Nepal, where the mountains melted? Did they just not hate evil quite enough? Not faithful enough? And, of course, I flashed back to that little tembler we had in Mandalay that time. It was a small earthquake, but I was in that scary building. I really thought that might be the end of me. I remember making myself walk down by the moat for a long, long time and when I sat down I was still shaking. Maybe I was not faithful enough. Maybe I was spared on account of somebody else’s faithfulness. Who even knows about these things?

And Nepal is not even the most up-to-the-minute travesty which God failed to rescue anybody from. In the time between the quake and the time you read this there will have been countless violations of people who, I guess, were not quite faithful enough, should have hated evil a little more.

Let’s face it, it is just impossible to find any favour with this God. We are as abandoned as Jesus on the cross, tossed out into space and by the mercy of gravity caught by the Sun. Yes, gravity has more mercy than God. It really is enough to make you want to give up the whole enterprise. 

See me squirming in the hand of the wicked. 

This is why I wish the lectionary writers would place the Psalm LAST instead of first. Often it leaves me with questions which I don’t really want to confront because they might be too hard, maybe I am not smart enough to figure it out, or I might not like the answer. So today I’ll just take the other option and bitch about it. I know that the one thing Jesus would not want me to do is nothing. 

We can see that in the second story in today’s gospel reading. It’s the story of the fellow who showed up to schul with a lame arm. The Pharisees were watching Jesus to see what he’d do. You know how some people are always hoping you’ll mess up. That’s what the Pharisees were doing. But, our man Jesus doesn’t care. He’s cool when he says, “So, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?” And I guarantee you there was utter and complete silence in the room. See, the habit had been to just ignore such things, to do nothing. But Jesus didn’t give that as an option. Obviously no Jew is going to say that it’s lawful to do harm, so that one’s out too. Jesus' only option is to take some action. Being Jesus, and all, he healed the man. I am not Jesus and I have never healed anybody. But what I learn from this reading is that I do not have the option of ignoring people’s needs.  I have to keep alert. See the need.

One time I gave some money to a panhandler in Washington DC and the guy I was with said something like, “Hey, he didn’t ask your for money.” And that was true enough. He was just sitting there, actually. He did not ask. But, honest to fuck… do we have to have a gold engraved invitation before we can see the needs around us? It was pretty clear that the man could use some money, that he was out there with that in mind. That he did not ask me specifically is beside the point. I don’t think that the man in today’s story sought out Jesus either. But Jesus is not blind. He can see that the man is lame. He knows that it is within his power to heal him. Duh.

I wonder about the needs around here. In my classroom, on the lane, across the desk. It's hard to see when you're busy, or distracted, or don't care.

But, inaction… it’s just not an option.

I like the other story for today too. It’s the one where Jesus proclaims himself lord of the Sabbath. He and some of his friends were walking through a field on a fine shabbat day. I guess they got a little snacky because they did what many of us have done; they snapped off a head of grain and began to chew on it.  Well, you just know those Pharisees were around.  And I like the Pharisees, I do. But some of them were real dicks. Anyway, they confronted Jesus on this illegal behavior and Jesus responded by comparing himself to David who also behaved illegally in regard to what he ate.  This is a pretty unrepentant position.  And then Jesus basically says, “Never mind the law. I am not even going to talk to you about it. I am lord of the Sabbath.” It’s no wonder he later got arrested. 

But, look again, it’s not just I am lord of the Sabbath. He says, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” I bet that’s an important juxtaposition. That’s a brilliant little statement, actually. In just a few words Jesus explains that he is both the hope and the fulfillment! 

You have to understand that Shabbat is the cornerstone of the covenant.  Don’t pay any attention to the charlatans going around shouting about their SABBATH. They are the same ones who don’t know what Shalom means. Just ignore them.

Shabbat reminds us of our first full day with God when having been created we were invited into God’s holy rest. This is how we know that Shabbat is not just a chance to rest up from the week past. Adam and Eve didn’t have anything to rest up from, after all. We enter into Shabbat because that is where we belong. It’s as simple as that. 

Jesus is saying, “I am Lord of the Sabbath… the place where you belong is the place where I am lord. “ 

I am pretty sure the Pharisees weren’t happy with that answer, but they didn’t arrest Jesus. Not that day, anyway.

So, in these readings we can learn a couple things about what Shabbat looks like under the Jesus Covenant:

  • Needs are seen
  • People are healed
  • Doing nothing is not an option
  • Legality is not the issue

For me?

  • I have to keep alert. 
  • Look for needs. 
  • Do what I can.
  • The law be damned.

I was in a study group one time where we took turns reading from the holy texts of our various traditions. This was really a remarkable group, looking back on it. Anyway one woman brought a quote from Paramhansa Yogananda about keeping your body and your mind fit and ready for God realization.  She talked about God realization a lot and had an unusual fascination with Indian gurus who had gone to the west. There are more of them than you might guess too. Anyway, during her talk a friend of mine passed me a note which said, “Don’t eat much, you never know when you’re going to be arrested,” and she has seen the inside of Insein Prison, so she knows.  It’s the same thing. Keep ready for God realization. You never know when the Kingdom may come! Keep ready.  Do what you can. The law be damned in our cause. Keep fit. Keep your belly empty. You never know when you might be arrested. Keep ready.

Pray for the students in Burma, my Rohyngia, everybody in Nepal, and the whole bloody world which has been abandoned to the hand of the wicked. 

It is either the 22nd or the 23rd day of the Omer. So far, I have remembered to make my count every day. At half-way to Shavuot where are we? Feeling abandoned. I really do wonder about the whole thing. But I am going to keep counting. It’s what I can do. It’s not much, but I can do that. It’s the one thing that I can be faithful to. It’s important to be faithful to something, even a small thing.

Spring is in full swing now. I’ll post some pictures later. But I can see this morning that the flowers are bigger and bunchier now than they were just a few days ago when I took the pictures.  I think I’ll pack away my coats. Or, probably just give them away. I hope to be somewhere warmer next winter.

You may remember that one of my neighbors has some fish tanks in his patio area. Well, something happened in one of the tanks and all the fish died. We were all sad. I was surprised at how tender he was about it. You would not take him for a sensitive man.  

I am still delighted by my ukulele lessons. I am not very good, but don’t feel that my inability should be an impediment to enjoying myself. I have never been overly obsessed with achievement, though. Ask my disappointed parents.  

I went to the Shanghai Hotel And Restaurant Supply store the other day. You all would not believe this place. They have everything from No Smoking signs to gorgeous copper cookware. I didn't go down every single aisle. The THREE HOURS I scheduled for my visit just didn't allow it. I picked up a couple things I needed/wanted, but I looked at lots of other stuff. There's some kitchen gear out there! I shopped the industrial blenders pretty heavily, as well as the modular kitchen systems... starting at only two thousand US.  My best purchase was a proper griddle so pancakes are in my future!

 I know I have not had a kabbalah number entry since Yud. That means we've missed both 18 and 20, and those are both big numbers. But 40 and 50 are coming up, and 30 is a good one too. And they are basically the decade number plus one through ten. Actually, all the numbers are good ones. It really is, though, getting too complicated for me to even think about too much, much less explain. I think this is the point when I tell you to see your rabbi because I'm out. What I know, I know pretty good. But there is so very much I don't know. You just wouldn't believe! Even I don't know all the things I don't know. And that's why we love religion, isn't it? It just never ends.

The truth is that I retreat into number mysticism and the merkaba when I don't want to think about other things. It's an escape. A fun escape, and pretty harmless, but it keeps me from more important and present matters. Gotta keep alert.

Have a fun day everybody.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

This is the twelfth day of the Omer and of Easter. That's pretty close, anyway. It might be the thirteenth.

I haven't done much blogging. It has been busy at work with one of the guys out, and I already think I do too much work so you can imagine how I feel about additional classes, though we get a little more money when that happens.

I had a ukulele lesson yesterday. I hadn't practiced very much. OK, I hadn't practiced at all. But we managed to have a good lesson anyway. I am learning a song that I like, and we played some of my old songs too. My teacher is from The Philippines so he is a little more westernized than most, but he sometimes gets his terms of speech mixed up. Today he told me that I had a nice package. I must have looked confused because he explained that I have a nice voice and I can feel the music. It was a compliment. But, still... a nice package. I didn't explain what it means in the USA. I just said thanks.

I skyped a couple people, chatted on FB with a couple people, and I practiced my ukulele.

My groceries came and I've washed some clothes. Such an exciting life.

So, I drew a connection between the broken Hei and the being that results when you link it to another Hei with a Yud. -- I don't know if I explained that clearly or not. I see from the comments that I have a bunch of big-brained readers who can figure things out, though, even if I don't connect all the dots.

It is hard to talk about the Yud without talking about tzimtzum. And, really, I think it will take someone more learned than me to explain it. But, basically, there is a belief in Kabbalah that before creating things, Ein Sof, or the divine light of God, withdrew and that created a space in which the limited things could have existence. The Bal Shem Tov told us not to take this withdrawal literally. God's beautiful light is still here, but in order for there to be limitation, such as we have, there has to be the appearance of some space which is not God's light. An easier way to say it is that tzimtzum, the withdrawal, explains how limitation can emerge from infinity, and how many different things can be created from an essential unity.  

Image result for tzimtzum images
The words above the circle say Ein Sof, or Divine Light. The small dot in the middle is the area where creation will happen. It is the tzimtzum.

Tzimtzum is not just for God, though. When we contract our desires, or when we are able to cultivate some humility then there is a contraction of ego and in that action, or contraction, we enter the moment. There is only one. It is called the present. That is also a place of creation, or recreation. Some Christians talk about an anamnesia, or remembering in the Eucharist, in which they imagine the body of Christ is somehow put together or re-membered, re-created. But this can't happen without a corresponding withdrawal which I am not sure gets as much liturgical attention as the remembering does. But, they go together.

Before the tzimtzum limitation was impossible. The withdrawal basically made it possible for existence, at least as we understand it so far. Interestingly, it is also the thing that revealed the infinite nature of God. Opposites have that power -- the power to reveal their own opposite. This is shown in the saying that a fish is the last to know that it's wet. It can only discover that it's wet when it experiences a state of not being wet.

Somehow this business of the tzimtzum -- important business --  has not, at least to my knowledge, made it into Christian thinking. Of course, there are all kinds of things the Christians don't tell you.

You have to know about the tzimtzum, though, because at the very center of the withdrawal is a small Hebrew letter. That's right, it's the Yud. Yud is the ability of God to contain everything that exists. God may or may not have existence, but what does exist exists within God. So, there you have it.

The Yud is the smallest letter, and it is the only letter that hangs in space -- Just like Earth itself hangs in space.
He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.
-- Job 26:7
If you look at it you can see that there is a crown on top, and a line that extends down. You can think of this as a pathway from infinity to limitation, or from Heaven to Earth, or from God to each one of us. It just depends on how you want to think about it.

I want to show you something. Look at these letters. You can see that every one begins and ends with a Yud:


It is especially clear in the Aleph where the two Yud remind us of the waters above and the waters below. A great mystery, that. The Aleph is very mysterious.

It's numerical value is ten. The ten commandments come immediately to mind. But, before that, there were ten divine utterances through which the world was created. There were ten generations from Adam to Noah, and ten more from Noah to Abraham. Ten nations were given to Abraham, Joshua had ten battles. There are ten in a minyan, We have Yom Kippur on the tenth day of Tishri, after ten days of repentance. The most obvious ten is in our modern number system. Even the Bible says that the tenth shall be blessed.

But, I am still on this business of the hand, and somewhat the friend. I have a feeling that this is a refrain you'll hear from me again:  You can't get better by yourself. Phone a friend!

Yud is the letter for hand.
  • You know the pointer used to read Torah is usually a hand with one finger pointing to the words. That's called the yad.  It points from that which is not Torah to that which is. There is a pathway from not Torah to Torah.
  • Three times a day we remember that God opens her hand to feed us. The pathway is from hunger to nourishment.
  • We know that God created the world with one hand, but the temple was created with two. The hands are joined in companionship, they work together. A path from unity to plurality.
You see how that path from the crown is always leading to something?

So, I really don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that we can go through the Yud from the brokenness of the Hei to the wholeness of Hei, Yud, Hei. I don't think the Yud makes it easy, I think it shows that it's possible. And I think that it doesn't happen in isolation.

My experience.

The blog is all about me, remember? All About Lindy?

I am grateful for all my friends.

I am grateful that hard things are possible.

I am grateful that I've already made the decision to heal. Making the decision is one of the hardest things. But once you decide, you don't have to make that decision again. You just keep putting the pieces together, making it fit.

I am grateful that Ein Sof, the divinity, made a place for all the created things.

I am grateful that I exist.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Today is the 2nd day of the 2nd week of the Omer, day 9. 

I think I will be one of those old people who sit in the park all day. Honestly, I could. I like to be among the trees, whom I admire. They are patient. They don’t have to get up and go anywhere; where the seed falls is where they are. Forever.  If they are hacked or experience drought, they stay right there. If life is good and birds nest in their hair and their arms grow strong, they stay right there.  Trees are stayers. 
Plant life is uniquely suited to life on earth. They are the only things on the planet which make their own food. Long after we’ve killed all the animals, and killed one another, the plants will be here.  Somewhere I read that before Manhattan Island was “discovered” and “civilized” it was so fragrant that you could smell it from a mile out at sea.  Plants might even develop consciousness. I heard once that carrots scream when you cut them. I’ve never heard a carrot scream, but it strikes me as a possibility. I know some people who thank their food before they eat it. I figure it’s pretty much dead by the time it gets to me so I don’t bother. But, when I was out in the Shan Hills that time, out in the wild, it occurred to me that I should thank the food which was giving its life for mine. It was alive when I ate it. I didn’t hear it scream, though. 

I have wanted to write something about the letter Yud. You may remember that I mentioned it last time when I talked about the word for becoming, Hei, Yud, Hei – Yes, someday I will get a Hebrew font for this thing. -- Hey, Yud, Hey is a standard BE verb… Be, am, is, are, been, being, becoming… There are others. But what I said is that the Yud, connecting two Hei shows us that brokenness leads to becoming… hopefully something new and better. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, I know. But we are a hopeful people. 

I will tell you the very first thing that came to mind to me about Yud… Well, first I thought its number is ten, and I thought about Solomon, and the Yud at the heart of tzimtzim. But, after the obvious stuff, I remembered that Yud means hand, and the word for hand, twice, is the word for close friend. Yud, Dalat is hand. Yud, Dalit, Yud, Dalit is close friend. And, I’ll tell you something, if you have been broken, Get A Friend! 

Do not try to go from broken to being all by yourself. 

I can tell you from my own experience that no matter how much you think you know, you still need a friend. And these letters show us. 

Also, remember that Dalit is our letter for door. A friend can help you through a passage. A friend reaches through and takes your hand. I don't know much, but I am convinced that hands, doors, going through passages… that’s all connected. Yes, even loners like me need a friend.

That’s enough for this morning. I’ll write more about Yud later.

Monday, April 13, 2015

It's the ninth day of the Omer, and the ninth day of Easter... at least by the way I am counting. I think I'm a day off on one or the other.

It has been a mad house at work. Fun, but busy. I haven't had time for a walk or a sit on the roof. It's just all work, all the time.

I did have one little mental companion yesterday, though. 

Blessed Margaret of Castello

photograph of a statue of Blessed Margaret at the Saint Louis Bertrand Church, Louisville, KY, date unknown, sculptor unknown, photographer unknown; swiped off the Saint Louis Bertrand Church web site 
Also known as
  • Margaret of Citta-di-Castello
  • Margaret of Metola
Born a blind, lame, deformed, hunchback midget. When she was six years old, her noble parents walled her up beside a chapel; she could not get out, but could attend Mass and receive the Sacraments. After 14 years of imprisonment, her parents took her to a shrine to pray for a cure. When none occurred, they abandoned her. She became a lay Dominican, and spent her life in prayer and charity. When she died, the townspeople thronged her funeral, and demanded she be buried in a tomb inside the church. The priest protested, but a crippled girl was miraculously cured at the funeral, and he consented.*


Can you imagine!
Being blind, lame, and a deformed migit is a lot to bear even today when we think we are so enlightened. Imagine what it was like for poor Margaret. And then being basically buried alive! You just have to wonder what people were thinking!

But, here's the thing... In the end she came back and did a miracle. Now, this may reveal more about me than it does about Margatet, but I don't think she did that miracle out of divine love. I think it was her little way of putting everyone in their place, not least of which would have been that nasty priest.

I don't think that I'll make it to sainthood. THAT would be a miracle. But, on the off chance that I do, I'll be back for a few miracles too, a few pointers before I go. I even have a some ideas, I admit it. I would like to show a few people... You know.

In the readings from I John we hear that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. A lot of the readings have seemed very, I don't know, one-way-or-the-other to me. This, not that. Light, not dark. In the world, not in the world. Sinless, or a liar... Like Margaret: abandoned by mortals, but loved by God.

That's OK when you're telling a story, or making a point. It all seems much more swirled to me, though. I am saved and abandoned in the same breath. I am redeemed and broken. It's not so clear, all the light and dark.

Sometimes joy is hard, but it is worth the effort.

I wonder what Jesus would think? I wonder that a lot. I rarely wonder what he would do, but I frequently want to know what he thinks.


*“Blessed Margaret of Castello“. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 April 2012. Web. 14 April 2015. <>

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Thought Speech and Action are the three ways the soul expresses itself. We can see that in the letter Hei.
There are three parts:
 “hei alef beit images”的图片搜索结果

The upper beam reminds us of thought because it is at the top of the letter, and of equality because it is even. All are equal to God and it is this thought which leads us to loving kindness. Loving kindness is the true essence of Hei. I know that, but I can’t explain it. It’s just something I remember. Not very helpful, I know. 

The line on the right extends from the upper beam to the line on the paper, or from the head to the earth. By speaking we extend the life of thought and divine receptivity to the earth plane.

The other line is not attached to the head. It is the line of action. You know how sometimes you do something that is perfect, but you don’t realize it until later? That’s because there’s a break between thoughts and actions. It is true that sometimes we really don’t know what we’re doing, or at the very least we don’t understand why.   

At the level of soul, you can think of them as the lines of thought, speaking, and action. 

At the level of divinity they are essence, immanence, and transcendence. 

There are levels which I should have explained before we started this thing. I didn’t think anyone would actually read it! Not more than once, anyway. Anyway, at the level of worlds, for example, the lines of the Hei represent height, breadth, and depth. But, you know, just read along. If something speaks to you, or gets you thinking, that’s good.

Hei is the fifth letter of the Aleph Bet. That should remind you that there are five fingers on your hand, five toes on your feet, five visible planets, five vanities in Ecclesiastes. At the level of soul it reminds you of the five levels of the soul, that in Psalm 103/4 it says “Bless God, my soul” five times. You can also remember the five voices that the bride and groom hear at their wedding (joy, happiness, bride, groom, torah.) At the level of divinity we remember that there are five books of Moses, there are five final letters in the Aleph Bet, and there are the five assholes who work in my office. Use your imagination.
 Hei: "Fancy" Alef - Bet ,  Mini - Painting
Now here is what I have been thinking about mainly:  Hei and Yud mean to be broken. And sometimes we feel a little bit broken, don't we? And, if/when we start to recover it's easy to think that we never want to go through that again. And, believe me, I know what you mean. I don't either.

But, there is another word. It starts with Hei too. One of the things we can do is take a look at all the words that start with Hei and see if they have anything in common. Well, the other word is Hei, Yud, and another Hei. It means to become, or was. It's your basic BE verb.

The earth WAS without form...
God said let THERE BE light...
It is not good for man to BE alone...
The serpent WAS more subtle...
And Cush begat Nimrod: He began TO BE a mighty one in the earth...

In English the Be Verbs show action, or a state of being. Obviously, I teach all the ways you can use them... with modals, in the gerund form, with all the tenses, past participles, probably some other stuff... But, in reading over these verses which contain Hei, Yud, Hei (ha'yah, maybe, if you want to pronounce it) I can see that they are all about change. Something is going on. Either a woman will be created, or darkness will be broken, or a great nation will arise, SOMEthing! And the connection that I've kind of latched onto is that brokenness begats being. Maybe we are broken, hopefully only for a little while. But there might be a new being too. The little Yud takes us from brokenness to being. There's enough hope in that to keep me moving on.

I am not sure the sages would agree with me on that. But the thing about Kabbalah Hebrew is that we trust the divine mind to go where it will. Remember in the second downward line of the Hei there is an existential break between the conscious thought and the way it is manifest. We don't have to know HOW the mind gets from one place to the next, but if a letter takes us somewhere, then that place is worth exploring. Not all places are worth blogging about, but they are worth exploring. We have to ask some questions about how a new discovery compares with the other things we know about God and God's ways. And this, I hope, is consistent with what I know of God. I have always been able to convince myself that whatever happens it is all to make something new, something good. So I am going to stay with this thought that brokenness and new being-ness are related.

It's day seven of the Omer:  Malchut of Chessed. It is also day seven of Easter.

I think it is important for Christians to count these Great Fifty days. I am not sure what form that should take. Maybe some special study, or a special fifty-day meditation on light (paschal candle.) Maybe it should be a  time to recommit ourselves to being willing participants in the life of God since we are about to receive the Holy Spirit. I really think that almost anything would be better than the current nothing.But that's just me. I really do think, though, that one of these days It'll be fairly common to have Great Fifty devotional books, much like we have Advent and Lent devotional books. |

In Western Christianity this is called Low Sunday, maybe because attendance is a little low after Easter.

From Dorothee Soelle today we have: "The real exile of Israel in Egypt was that they had learned to endure it." So, really, let's not learn to endure suffering, but just wait to see what new thing emerges. I know that's terrible optimistic of me, and to be completely honest I'm not feeling it. But I found that little bit of hope and I think I'll keep it.

From the readings this morning -- the lectionary readings, not the eucharistic readings -- we have Thomas speaking his truth, "What are you talking about?" he says, "We don't know where you are going, and we don't know how to get there..." And, for his honestly, and his doubt, he is not rebuffed, most certainly he is not kicked out of anything, but he is invited in closer. "Here, touch me, see my wounds, get inside it."

There are lots of things to doubt. We can doubt if we'll ever be better, healed. We can doubt if the world can keep going the way it is, if we can. We can doubt if God even cares. But there seems never to be a rebuff in our doubts. Jesus doesn't even seem to notice. "Come over here," he says, "Feel the wounds... believe in the little hope you've got."

This one time there were some Jews who were devastated because their temple had been destroyed. But, later they were able to get it back, and it was a real mess too. In all the rubble they found a little oil, not too much, just enough for one day. Even though it was a small amount, they lit it anyway. I think you know the rest of the story. The oil burned for eight days, long enough for more oil to be obtained. In other words, it burned long enough. And it is the same with any little hope we can find. Just take the hope you've got. There are no guarantees, but history would indicate that whatever you've got is enough.

And tomorrow is Monday. In the language school biz we call that Low Monday because nobody wants to learn English on a Monday. Maybe I'll have time to actually think about something. Today was a mad house. This one kid, Steven, he always wants something. And somebody else wanted to show me her new baby, like I've never seen one before. They all look the same to me, they really do. And I had to teach an extra class. And another student honored/annoyed me by asking me to attend her final presentation where she said that I'd changed her life. I swear, I did not. Anyway, it's all good. But, busy. I will leave home early tomorrow to spend some time in the park, by the small pond.