Return to nothingness, a dance of love and joy

My Vessel of Nothing copyright 2011 Aliza Wiseman all rights reservedNo part of my vessel

Remains.

 

There are no shards

That lay broken

To sink into the earth

Over time…

 

No dust has been left

To be caught up

In the next

Unexpected breath

Of love…

 

My vessel

Has disappeared into the ether…

 

Its compass

Consumed by the fire

That dissolved into

An infinite smoke line.

 

Its bits and pieces

Devoured by the quicksand

That came and went in the wake

Of our nakedness.

 

Today,

I dance,

I love…

 

The joy in my being

lives here, as everywhere.

 

© 2011-2016 Aliza Wiseman, All Rights Reserved.

Legacy of love is enough

A legacy of love is more than enoughWhether I do or I don’t

Is of no matter,

In the greater scheme of things…

 

I do not need

A permanent record

A sign that points to my name

 

What I do on this earth

Isn’t about accolades

And accomplishments

For the outside world to

Possess and celebrate…

Destroy or confiscate…

 

All that matters is

How I spend my days

 

How I love

 

Where my time is devoted

In nourishing others…

 

All that matters

Is process to me…

 

The rolling of dough

The washing away of tears

On a child’s face

The whisper of encouragement

To the whole of the

Human race

That longs to improve

The world

To love

To be kind

To sustain life…

 

Somehow…

 

Though my being

My breathing

My loving of those

Who do

In other ways

Than what is mine

To do,

I am content

To contribute.

 

Whatever

I write…

I create…

I make…

Is no more permanent that any mountain

That crumbles, eventually, into the sea.

 

Somewhere, in another

Forever…

Will always be a little part of me

And that

I believe…

 

Is enough.

 

©2011 Aliza Wiseman

 

South Korean Christians Apologize to Jews

South Korean Christians letter of Apology - side oneAs we were walking to shul the other day, we were handed a small flyer at one corner, greeted by a few individuals holding more flyers at the next corner, and then surrounded by dozens of South Korean Christians who were holding large banners, handing out more flyers, and all singing in Hebrew.

As I stopped for the first flyer, I merely said thank you and accepted it, as is typical of my nature.

As I approached the second corner, I let the few standing there know that I had a flyer and thanked them – wow, we sure weren’t expecting to see such a flyer…

As I approached the singing dozens, I naturally began reaching out, holding a hand, touching an arm, saying thank you – you are beautiful – there is no separation. I exchanged a few hugs. One woman wanted me to know, very clearly, they are South Korean Christians. One gentleman was so glad at my reception that he couldn’t help but ask me point blank (like I was sure to know?), “can you please tell me why some people don’t take them?” He had a hand filled with flyers, eager to hand them out to one and all. I responded that maybe they are just city people – closed off – I don’t know. He asked me to take some flyers and see if I could give them to others. I took them and then the light turned green and I waved the “I love you” hand sign I’m in a habit of waving (not always a good thing…I was in such a habit that, on one occasion, I was waving to a friend’s husband and practically died of embarrassment upon realizing I was on this kind of “auto pilot!”).

As we walked further, there were yet more South Korean Christians handing out flyers, one by one. I watched as a fellow Jew came toward us, refusing to take a flyer from the gentleman at the corner, just across the street from us. So, I reached into my handbag and took out one of the stack of flyers I was carrying. In the middle of the intersection, I handed it to him and said, “you should have taken his flyer…here…” The man said he thought it was a restaurant menu! Hahahaha – it’s official – I really am the LAST to point out the OBVIOUS!!! I’m still laughing about this. I sure hope the gentleman who inquired about this of me met up with this guy and learned the truth? We’ll never know I guess…

Anyway, I will post the flip side of the flyer below. And I’m interested to know what others think. While we have differences in our views, the main thing that strikes me is that this was very Jewish of them in a way. At the heart of Judaism is ACTION. To show others that you mean what you say, you must take action. Action speaks so much louder than words. So, there they were, singing – in Hebrew – holding giant banners to proclaim their support of Jews – handing out flyers and hugs and kindness. For all of us who want peace in this world, I cannot help but feel great respect for what these South Korean Christians were out there doing last Saturday. They were taking an action from their heart and soul – to do something within their ability to further peace, not separation, division, discord.

Finally, as much as I love words, there really aren’t any that suffice were I to try to describe the love in the air and the beauty in the eyes and faces of these people who so wanted to give something. I received it in the spirit they intended and this blessing has lasted for days – it was really very moving to experience.

South Korean Christians letter of Apology - side two

What Jewish Pride means to me

Image from Rabbi Wolpe book Why Be Jewish with note by author Aliza WisemanPeople often talk about Jewish pride in what seems an impersonal way. It is as if Jewish pride should be a slogan flung far and wide, to counter the rising tide of antisemitism. Or as though Jewish pride should be a cheer, to grow and gather voices from there to here, into some great communal crescendo. Or like a badge of courage, to boldly pronounce one’s lack of shame for standing in the truth – in love and kindness – in the heart of what it means to be a Jew.

My pride in being Jewish is deeply personal. Wherever I am and wherever I go, I secretly dance with a bubbling joy within what I imagine as the now flowering gardens at the very heart of my Jewish soul. My soul that is not a thing – not the property of any man – but a beautiful rose responding to Gd’s light.

As a child, I remember being woken up late at night; hauled out to the cold living room while still in my PJs. My bohemian mother who took us to every kind of church imaginable (EXCEPT a synagogue!) so that we could one day “decide for ourselves” somehow found it essential that we not miss one moment of footage of the holocaust. I have always had a rather photographic memory. The number of times this footage has played and played, I cannot say. I hear “never again” and my every cell rises up as one great regiment, ready for action. So it has always been the case for this girl who was raised with “no religion.”

My Papa was fond of repeating choice sayings. “Keep on swinging at those windmills!” — “Follow dat car cabby!” — “Get your elbows out at the table…say…make some room for me!” — “No man is an island.” — “Man stands for a long time with his mouth open, waiting for a roasted chicken to fly in.” — “We’re ALL JEWS.” After my Papa died, I began to wonder about that last phrase. At one point, when I asked my brother, he said, “If you do the research, you’ll find that it’s true.”

In college, I was engaged to a nice Catholic boy. I went to a Jesuit university. I tried so hard to be Christian. But I handed back the ring because I knew the truth. Not the whole truth that only revealed itself many years into a hard test of endurance later. Just the portion of truth of which I was aware in that moment – that I could not bring myself to harm him by pretending that I could ever honestly raise children up as Catholic. After years of running late to church so as not to miss my part in the choir; years of following the procession that resulted in the baby Jesus being placed in the manger; years of walking next door for Sunday night dinners with his grandparents, I yielded to the truth that was for me like a mountain within – immovable.

More than five years ago, I unexpectedly overhead my ex describe to #1 how soldiers were made out of men. “First you break their spirit, then you dominate.” I shall never forget these words because of the way they formed in the very air through which I moved, spontaneously coming together into a fist that entered straight through my abdomen. Then, as unexpectedly as that blow hit, I felt a draft sweep through my being. It was as though the door to my inner garden that I thought had been entirely sealed had suddenly revealed a crack; a crack through which my soul sent up an unexpected smoke line – a breath into my being – a joyous tone of some unsung melody. In that moment I knew three things for certain; that one’s spirit is the hardest thing to break; that Gd IS; and that one’s soul belongs to no man, but exclusively to Gd.

I shall not here get into what prompted me to buy Rabbi Wolpe’s book, Why Be Jewish, some years before that moment came; before I remembered it wedged in between books encased behind a glass door that I rarely ever opened. As I read his book, I wrote in the margins, as I’m in a lifelong habit of doing. My final note is in the picture above. But the emotion that I felt at the close of this most important book was more than love. The emotion was also a sense of outrage. Why had my mother never taken me to a synagogue? Why had my university required religious electives that did not include Judaism so had me taking Black Liberation Theology? And, more to the point in that moment of question, I remember thinking back to one unforgettable experience in my childhood – the breakfast served by Mrs. Hearn after a birthday sleepover in my fourth grade year. What is essential to know is that my mother refused us sugar cereals but for very rare occasions. And she never once bought Captain Crunch. That morning, Mrs. Hearn served – and I ate – NINE bowls of those sharp golden cubes of indescribable delight before going home with a thousand cuts in the roof of my mouth and having it out with my mother – “YOU LIED TO US!!!!!” That was exactly what I said to her. Because, to me, omission was a lie and she had never told us of the existence of this, the best, most amazing cereal on the face of the earth. And this is exactly how I felt upon closing Rabbi Wolpe’s book – about the omission of Judaism over all the years of my growing up. It was, to me, as though my entire life, to that moment, had been spent in omission.

As I have mused privately with friends, one of my upcoming books may tell about my five year journey of conversion and that perhaps I shall title it, “A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to The Mikveh.” I even have an opening paragraph or two, as follows:

“What I left behind at the Mikveh

When my mother died on the table at the age of 52 and the medical practitioners used paddles to bring her back to life, it resulted in her making the following declaration, “In my last life I was a smoker. In this life, I am not.” When she returned home from the hospital, she took out her long, black, rhinestone-studded cigarette holder and began to add an extra rhinestone to it each year that she didn’t smoke.

My entrance into my new life may appear to have taken a more evolutionary route, but it was no less an awakening as if I had died on a table myself.”

For one who has never taken this journey, it is like the difference between those who have children and those who do not. While I’m sure each conversion story is different, for myself, I know that I wrestled with the process of conversion much like Jacob wrestled with Gd. The thing is, I am and have always been a Jew – it’s just that nobody ever told me. As I did some research, I learned that my father’s surname is one of the oldest Jewish surnames in Sicily and one letter off of one of the oldest Sephardic Jewish surnames in Spain. On my mom’s side, I learned we have a Mordechai…a few Abrahams… several Rachels and Sarahs… but genealogical research on her side presents a task that feels much like falling down a worm hole. So, regardless and as my favorite Chabad Rabbi Levin insisted, there was but one route for me. Still, I wrestled with the process, as it was really odd to think that I must convert to what I already am. At one point in my wrestling, I even once imagined that I would stubbornly sit before the rabbis and say nothing except perhaps ask them how they could possibly argue with what Gd had created in this very being that sat before them. But that is not what I did, when it came down to it. And, while I had hoped for that magic that many converts feel in the moments after their first mikveh, I had none. I had none because nothing in my soul had changed. Rather, my soul was revealed to me in a moment some time ago and I found only a sense of acceptance in that moment of mikveh.

As a side note that pops into my consciousness as I reflect on this last thought is what I have come to know is that truth manifests itself more through revelation than through investigation or discovery. Which reminds me – I recently shared with a dear friend and very wise soul that I believe acceptance is the most powerful element in the universe and cannot, for the life of me, understand why it’s not listed on the periodic table. His amazing response was that it is…it’s in the white space (it was at this point that I felt another lovely breath come sweeping through my garden gate – he is so right! :-) )

In any event, this automatic writing has come a long way around to simply declare that Jewish pride is, to me, a very sacred and deeply personal value. It need not be yelled from rooftops. Rather, worn openly, nakedly, and joyfully each day.

© 2016 Aliza Wiseman, All Rights Reserved.

Joyful Submission to Love

Abstract Woman Copyright 2011 Aliza Wiseman All Rights Reserved

Too pretty

Not pretty enough

Too smart

Not smart enough

Too young

Not young enough

 

Too experienced

Not experienced enough

Too old

Not old enough

Too pragmatic

Not pragmatic enough

Too idealistic

Not idealistic enough

Too religious

Not religious enough

Too organized

Not organized enough

Too thin

Not thin enough

Too energetic

Not energetic enough

Too particular

Not particular enough

Too hot

Not hot enough

Too material

Not material enough

Too self centered

Not self centered enough

Too political

Not political enough

Too fun

Not fun enough

Too…well, you get the idea…

 

When I take off the mask

When my body falls away

When I see with the heart

When I trust in God…

 

The pendulum rests

In the balance…

 

The heart beats a rhythm

Of joy

Peacefully keeping time

With the only thing that matters…

 

The only thing that connects us…

Love.

 

As we make excuses

So many reasons why it cannot be…

We miss out on a golden opportunity

To make love.

 

Every part of me

Lives now

Without any need

For excuses.

 

©2011 Aliza Wiseman, All Rights Reserved.

Now available on CafePress – gift items with this original art illustration by Aliza Wiseman

High Seas

High Seas art illustration Copyright 2011 Aliza Wiseman All Rights Reserved

Hanging on for dear life.

Knowing my survival

Is not about me…

 

Ride the seas…

Ride the seas…

Remember to breathe…

It’s not about me.

 

Eyes are watching me

With hope

And love

And absolute faith…

 

Words are coming

At me in waves…

Like knives

Like rocks

Eager to break

My vessel

Into a thousand parts…

 

Ride the seas…

Ride the seas…

Remember to breathe…

It’s not about me.

 

©2011 Aliza Wiseman, All Rights Reserved.

To purchase gift items with this original art illustration titled “High Seas” shop at cafepress.com/alizawiseman

 

Breathe and Believe…

Breathe and BelieveSteering a boat

in darkness

and in fear

Trying to avoid

the dangers

the rocks and pitfalls

Praying somehow

the distant light

of stars

or the occasional brilliance

of the moon

will be enough

to guide us out

of

harm’s way

is no way to steer a boat.

It is by daylight

by dawn

by absolute faith

in G-d

in trusting

there is a course

free of all obstacles

there for you

to be lit by a growing

Light

formed of sparks

found in the hearts

of others.

To know

there is no need

to steer so much as

to breathe

and to believe.

 

This is my journey

I go wherever

it may lead.

 

©2011 Aliza Wiseman

Music is…

Music is poem and photo by Aliza Wiseman

A loving arm wrapped around a waist…

A tender smile, knowing glance, kindness in a face…

A dance we never finish, a meal by candlelight, warm kisses in the afternoon, a gentle sigh goodnight…

A stereo repaired and sending out new tunes, a butterfly now breathing beyond confines of cocoon…

A bloom of scented jasmine, springtime on the way, a songbird sharing secrets at the breaking of new day…

A canopy of tree limbs, picnic in the shade, book with unturned pages, glass of lemonade…

A canvas without color, a bowl, a brush, some paint…

The world is full of song today…

Be still…

Sit…

Listen…

©2016 Aliza Wiseman, All Rights Reserved.

Home is…

tulips garden home Home is a resonance between souls; an echo joyfully dancing in complete knowledge of what is true, kind, kindred, loving, compassionate, and peaceful.

Home is so many notes at once, coming together and comingling, in and out, bringing harmony into the rise and fall of our days; into the in-betweens of things that would otherwise have us falling for the illusion of separateness.

Home is the scent of oak leaves, sunshine, fresh coffee, blooming jasmine, and a summer patio.

Home is the sound of birdsong and butterflies, waves greeting the shore on a moonlit beach, and laughter rising up from the deepest part of being alive.

Home is light. It passes through hearts and vessels, threading them in and around and through, bringing them together.

Home is breathing, in and out, with ease; safe, comfortable, without question.

Home is a return to our essence; to the garden within, where flowers bloom without effort, rising up to greet our every sense with pleasure.

Home is an open door without any lock or key.

Home is living simply.

© 2016 Aliza Wiseman, All Rights Reserved.