activism from a reservoir of inner beauty

I have been listening to Krista Tippett’s radio podcast On Being (formerly called Speaking of Faith) since 2011. Through years of not having a spiritual home base and often feeling lost within myself, listening to the huge variety of people she interviews, from radical activists to spiritual leaders to scientists, has been incredibly grounding. Majority of the interviews speak to me on a level deeper than the daily chatter of to-do lists and small-talk and compounding anxieties.

Yesterday I listened to a podcast from Nov 13, 2014 titled Discovering the Cosmology of Bach in which Ms. Tippett interviews Professor of Computer Science Bernard Chazelle. Connections between science/mathematics, spirituality, and music are a fascination of Ms. Tippett’s that has continued to surface in her interviews, and it is a passion I share with her. This quote of Mr. Chazelle’s particularly speaks to me:

“There’s something extremely optimistic and really almost dizzying when you hear something, and it moves you so intensely inside. And you realize, but this is you who is being moved. Nobody’s forcing this inside you. So in your brain, there must be this reservoir of beauty which most often is untapped, goes untapped. But if you can find it with the right spotlight, then you discover this amazing consonances, or dissonances, or this amazing narrative, story, inside you.”

Since hearing that (and rewinding several times to re-listen to the words and really let them settle in) I have been meditating on the idea of an inner reservoir of beauty. What does that mean? If we live with the assumption that everyone has that, we must also acknowledge that each individual requires something different to tap that reservoir. What if we focused more of our energy on finding want gets that reservoir dam to break, and let THAT guide our approach to our educations, careers, and social justice activism tactics and approaches?

Specifically with that last one, I feel that the urgency of such disastrous injustices pushes us, as radical activists, to rush to action. Sometimes this is absolutely necessary. Sometimes this comes from fear. I am interested in exploring what it would mean to start from a place of a flowing reservoir of inner beauty, and let THAT guide the decisions we make about system-debunking tactics.

Meanwhile, I am on my own journey of trying to find the things that tap into my own reservoir. I know some of them. But knowing what they are isn’t enough. I have to commit to really acting on them, practicing them, and keeping the inner channels open. It’s a work in progress. Like most things.

embracing self-love, one public bathroom at a time

I am working on a long-term, lifelong project of trying to embrace self-love, stop the constant negative self-talk, and transform that energy into positive pulsing that I can project out into the world as a force of peace. Many many days I fail miserably at this. Some days I have glimpses where I feel the work and the intention might be paying off. A quick moment when I am washing my hands in a public restroom, look up at the mirror, and smile, saying, “I’m really glad I’m YOU.” This does not happen all the time. Believe me. But it has been happening more frequently since I made this such a high priority.

“Ultimately, self-compassion is a series of choices, a moment by moment conscious turning away from that which will harm your spirit toward that which will nourish and sustain you. It is choosing, in any particular situation, and over and over again whether you’ll treat yourself well, or beat yourself up, whether you’ll deny yourself, or treat yourself as lovingly as you’d treat your child or your most precious friend. Self-compassion means looking at yourself with kindness, with a conscious awareness of your sufferings, and in time, with a deep appreciation for the way you have transformed them.” – Loving Yourself by Daphne Rose Kingma

the call to spiritual creativity

A traumatic violent devastating experience has reinvented me. I am not sure who I will be. Who I am. Which parts of who I was have remained, and which parts are gone. Which parts I must grieve, and which needed to go all along. This might be a lifetime project rebirth.

After over six years of devoting my whole self to radical anti-racist activism, it is a terrifying thing to know I can’t spend every waking moment doing that work. That my health and my core guide are telling me I need to do the work in a new and different form. The concrete shape has yet to manifest, but spirituality and artistic creativity are at the center of the new form of my work.

“What we are talking about is an induced–or invited–spiritual experience. I refer to this process as spiritual chiropractic. We undertake certain spiritual exercises to achieve alignment with the creative energy of the universe. If you think of the universe as a vast electrical sea in which you are immersed and from which you are formed, opening to your creativity changes you from something bobbing in that sea to a more fully functioning, more conscious, more cooperative part of that ecosystem.” – The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

police, racism, and being jewish

My dear hero Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (fondly known as RDR) is showing up yet again. I am wrestling with how to fight the white supremacist police state while continuing to heal from a severe spinal injury and PTSD. Sometimes it is hard to find the right words to write about injustice when your own health isn’t at a place where you can be on the front lines. But thank goodness we can share words with one another.

beginning the search for my ancestors

Sitting at the Toyota dealership waiting for my free recall to be finished I remember that my maternal grandfather’s ashes are scattered in the grass behind the back parking lot.

I want to tell the story of my father’s first twelve months of life. Eleven of them with his own father. One of the them beginning a lifetime without his own father.

I want to know about my Orthodox Jewish cousins. Why do they wear wigs? Do they wish they could wear pants? What would they say if I told them I love women?

Maybe I can go visit them.

Who was lost in the Holocaust? What does it mean to be “lost”? Do we know where they were?

I want to know what I don’t want to know. How involved was my great-great-uncle in the formation of the state of Israel?

Maybe I need to go to Israel and meet my uncle?

I want to look at old photographs.

I want to hold the suffering on both sides of my family and find a way for me to keep hold while I study the horrific acts committed by the state of Israel.

I want to go to the West Bank and feel anything but guilt. Not because it isn’t there, but because it isn’t useful. And because this whole project needs to hold self-love and healing. Because if it doesn’t, I can’t do it.

i guess i am starting a blog?

Hi there. My name is Lena. I have resisted the push to start blogging for quite a while. I have felt too deep a chasm between the writing I publish and the personal writing I keep safe in my journal. However, that gap has becoming increasingly narrow, as I begin to publish very personal work and I find I am writing about ideas in my journal that need to be heard by more than just the other voices in my mind.

Who am I? I am a white, upper-middle-class, queer, spiritual, jewish, radical, anti-racist, survivor, writer, artist, nature-loving woman. Can you tell I struggle with how to identify? And yet I owe you, my dear reader, at least a decent attempt, to begin to earn your trust. So maybe you will read my words every now and then. Maybe they will resonate on some level, surface or deep down. Maybe.

“You, too, are a foreign correspondent in your own right. So how (and whether) you now proceed is, of course, up to you. That’s the thing about cocreation. To exist, it requires the presence of more than one point of view.” –Discontent and Its Civilizations by Mohsin Hamid