Monday, September 12, 2011

Earth Etude for 15 Elul

Working regularly in my garden since June, weeding, planting two additional new gardens in our front yard, enjoying my planter boxes on our wonderful deck where we eat our meals and celebrate Shabbat into the early fall, tending our tomato, chard and kale plants-- all of this makes me feel so connected to the earth and its potential. I welcome the worms wiggling around nourishing the soil, and delight in seeing the spread of colorful blossoms that appear every morning to greet me.

Just as the physical plants in my gardens grow, blossom and change, I feel the connection to teshuvah many times during the calendar year and note my efforts at making meaningful internal changes. Many internal efforts help me feel more whole and connected as I journey through the Jewish year. One is to not reserve the opportunity to make teshuvah a conscious internal/spiritual goal for change only during the Yamim Noraim. Others are to take the time to reflect, to become more mindful of my behavior within myself and in relation to others,, and to seek ways to grow and stretch spiritually so that positive change can occur to enrich my life and those important to me.

Likewise, I find that reaching out to others as a way to add color and "spiritual blossoms" to those in need is an important part of my life. This past year I have again gained nourishment by connecting to Jewish inmates with whom I have been an active pen pal for years, lost souls who need affirmation, contact , and most of all, hope - knowing that they are not forgotten helps them not wither on their own depleted spiritual vines. When I support individuals through interfaith work locally or contribute to those in need in conflict areas in the world, I also find new meaning in my life.

As I journey through Elul, I am reminded that making changes for a more peaceful me, turning to do good, and acting more mindfully and tangibly to assist others all have the effect of integrating teshuvah into my everyday life as I gain a deep appreciation for the natural and spiritual worlds and my place in them.

Maxine Lyons, retired community educator, currently CMM board member and co-facilitator of CMM's RUAH Spirituality Programs, co-leader of Discovering Balance Programs through Discovering What's Next (revitalizing the next life phase for "seasoned citizens"), international folk dancer, member of Temple Beth Zion, Brookline, joyful wife of 34 years and mother of two accomplished and wonderful thirty somethings.

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