Friday Dispatch: When the Sea Parts
We keep moving towards liberation
Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about how to listen to longing? At the end of that piece, I posed these questions – to myself and to you:
What if you keep paying attention to the smallest signs? What if you notice the glimmers, the smallest buds and bright chirping from within your own heart?
Well, here is a little story about how listening can unfold, and how we can connect the dots of the constellation of our own lives.
But first, I want to tell you that the kids at our synagogue who are preparing to become b’nai mitvah (this is plural of bar/bat mitzvah, not to mention inclusive of nonbinary kiddos) have had a new tradition this year. Once a month or so, the whole class joins the congregation during Shabbat morning services and asks us a question. Anyone can raise a hand and offer their thoughts.
Last Saturday’s question: Do you believe in angels?
I gave a longer answer in the sanctuary, but my short answer is yes. Angels show up in all kinds of unexpected guises. They are integral on our journeys, alone and together, towards freedom.
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Last week, I launched my second group ever that is exclusively Jewish in nature.
During the six weeks of Bagels, Belief and Belonging, we’ll explore our Jewish-ness through writing and discussion. Check out the website for more information about what it is, what it isn’t, and who it’s for.
(By the way – this group is already half full! Sign up soon if you’d like to join me.)
Many of you know that for a long time now, I’ve wanted to weave the Jewish thread of my life even more fully and formally into my work.
This has already begun to happen over the past few years. I’ve humbly served as the Poet in Residence at the JCA, our synagogue (after becoming a bat mitzvah myself at the age of 46). I’ve led workshops both there and independently for folks to write their way into the Days of Awe. And just this winter, I worked with those very same b’nai mitzvah students to help them write their personal prayers for the big day.
But as for a “bigger” next step, I have been in a place of not knowing. Rabbinical school, a path I’ve considered on and off since I was 21, is simply too big of a leap right now, perhaps ever. (Though I still wouldn’t say never :)
Excited about the “Bagels” group (as folks seem to be affectionally calling it!), I texted a couple of dear friends from my Burlington days to tell them about my newest offering.
The former, yes. The latter, not until that very moment.
Intrigued, I looked up the website. And I knew. I just knew within moments, that angels were afoot. As I looked at the mission, the vision, the staff, the core belief and values, the methodology, I felt a familiar flutter in my chest.
Here’s what it says at the top of the “About” page:
Cultivating creativity is a core competency for navigating the challenges and harnessing the potential of our time. Creativity is the wellspring of our deepest power and among the best tools we have for exploring, adapting, and bringing forth new ways to thrive in our ever-changing world. Creativity is inherent within all of us, yet we live in a society in which most of us are cut off from this essential part of who we are. This is a crisis of spirit and imagination. Jewish Studio Project (JSP) exists to address this profound need.
Imagine how this flutter took flight when I saw that applications open this spring for the fourth cohort of the Creative Facilitator Training (CFT), a two-year intensive fellowship for professionals looking to bring this practice into their existing work!
I immediately emailed to ask a few questions and received a warm response the next morning, also asking if I’d attended any JSP programs yet. I had not. But I remedied that yesterday.
Attending and participating in Have You Made Art About It Yet? Passover Edition: Illuminating the Way Out with Rabbi Adina Allen, JSP founder, confirmed this sense of rightness and excitement to apply for the CFT.
The timing of this feels like a moment of serendipity the likes of which I haven’t experienced so brightly in quite some time, while at the same time being so organic – which is how I like to roll. I will turn 50 in nine months. The younger of my kids will be 18 in a year. And I am nearing the 10-year mark (!) of Fierce Encouragement for Writing + Life.
The 90-minute program consisted of stirring words of Torah, inspiring text study and small group discussion, “alone together” art-making and self-witnessing, and optional sharing. The whole experience left me feeling full, enlivened, and eager for more.
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Last night, Mani and I went to hear “Klezmer-Yiddish-Punk Rocker” (perfect description from The Cedar) Daniel Kahn perform with Jake Shulman-Ment. Their music conjures a lost world that’s not lost at all but alive and well within and around us, a world that keeps reinventing, refining, and redefining itself, evolving and thriving.
The concert (I laughed! I cried!) made me fall in love all over again with art that lives at the intersection of protest and celebration, with the ongoing work of repair in this urgently broken world, with the co-mingling of sorrow and joy where the worlds of the sacred and social action overlap.
And this all feels so timely with the coming of Passover, a holiday that retells the story of our liberation from enslavement, our survival of exile, and the beginning of our long journey home.
These places where spirituality, social justice, self-reflection, communal worship and work, and artistic reflection and expression meet – this is where I want to spend my days. It’s a continuation of all that has come before, and an unfolding that fills me with awe.
I’m here for this. So are you. We are here to keep moving towards liberation – politically, artistically, spiritually, individually, collectively. What a blessing that is.
Keep watching for angels, dear reader. They’re everywhere.
Shabbat Shalom and love,
✨ What a Year Brings by Katrina Kenison – especially if you’re looking for “a way back onto the page”
✨ There is ONE SPOT for Spring Fever, a 12-week session of Tuesday Zoom writers.
April 4-June 27
Three monthly payments of $250
The promise of writing more consistently and courageously
✨ To join, please contact me ASAP!
✨ I just had an essay accepted for publication by Cognoscenti. I’m in a bit of shock and suddenly have the impulse to go live in a shack in the woods!
I will share the link with you as soon as it’s live – probably a couple of weeks.
Summer Bliss, Anyone?
Miv and I continue to plan the July Radiance and Renewal Retreat.
Ten weeks from now, imagine arriving at MY HOUSE and convening in the backyard, surrounded by leafy woods, tall pines, and bird feeders, for a weekend of gently guided meditation, freewriting, and connection.
Sound like bliss? To me, too!
Space is limited to 10. I hope you’ll join us.
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