Creating Spaciousness


I am daydreaming again.

Having stumbled upon the description of God’s breath hovering on the waters, my imagination has transformed me into a hummingbird. I am sitting still but my mind is buzzing.

Daydreaming is both a necessity for my writer-self and a luxury for my mother-self. It can also be a liability. Often, the open space of my dream state allows the tempest of my nightmares to overwhelm me. I am standing at the edge of a chasm, peering down at God’s breath hovering below me.

I feel light-headed: I could easily lose my balance.

Rabbi Tsvi Blanchard taught me that the ability to tolerate both the nightmare and the fantasy of my dream state empowers me to transform my fear to joy. As I embrace the truth of his teaching—my mind cannot soar higher unless it has hovered low—I struggle to discern my thoughts amid the noise of the dream. I am surrounded by chaos and nothingness.

I inhale deeply, filling my lungs with oxygen.

I exhale slowly, feeling steadier as my breath fades.

I take a second breath, emptying my mind of anxiety.

The third time, I close my eyes and hold my breath close to my heart.

Somehow, I find the strength to surrender the dream and wait in the spaciousness of the moment. As I exhale, I see my potential joy rising up like a fog lifting out of the deep chasm.

It is the breath of God hovering before me.


Search & Seizure

I pray in airports.

Many of my fellow passengers likely pray on board the aircraft, but I find myself praying in the waiting place—my place of anxiety—and today my prayers are especially heartfelt.

I arrive at the Park-and-Ride with plenty of time to spare, despite the slow-moving traffic on the highway. My husband lovingly chides me for worrying:  “You always sit at the gate for at least an hour.”

He can afford to be good natured, since I am traveling alone for business and he has already arrived safely at his office. “Remember before 9/11?” he asks. “We used to leave for the airport an hour before our flight. Security was just walking through a metal detector.”

I recall our last real vacation, a before-the-baby-is-born trip to California. I stepped gingerly down the jet way, looking over my shoulder toward the terminal, wondering if I would be able to stretch my legs across his empty seat during the flight.  How long could it possibly take to park the car? I knew we should have left the house earlier!

“Yes,” I tell him. “And I remember the leeks, cucumbers and melons in Egypt. And the fish we ate for free.”

He laughs. “You have plenty of time,” he reassures me. “I have to get to a meeting.”

“I’ll call you when I land.”

I recite my first prayer—praise for the shuttle driver—as I step through the airport doors and note the time: my flight departs in 2 hours.

I’d heard on the radio earlier that “Security wait times” were close to 30 minutes. But as I round the corner, brandishing my cell phone with its QR-coded boarding pass, I see there is no line. Then I hear a commotion erupt beyond the glass partition.

“What should I do about this line?” one TSA officer calls to another.

“Turn them around and send them back through the next lane,” her colleague replies.

My second prayer is a petition: “Please, God, don’t let anyone who was at the front of that line realize that he is now going to be last.” I think my spouse is right, after all. Things were better in Egypt.

“You called 911, right?” another TSA agent asks.

“Yeah, I called.”

That’s when I realize the delay is not about searching carry-on bags and directing travelers through scanners. TSA agents are clearing the way for paramedics to attend to the woman at the front of the line who’d had a seizure.

My third prayer is interrupted by a polite request: “Ma’am, step forward please.”

I take a deep breath as I hand him my identification. My final prayer of the morning is gratitude: “Thank God for the TSA agents who acted decisively to help a fellow traveler.”


The Week of the Dragon


You may have noticed that I didn’t write a blog post this week.

I can explain.

This was the Week of the Dragon, when I tried to harness the cosmic energy of my technology to resolve a metaphysical problem I’d encountered.

Since the publication of Found in Translation in paperback, I have been working on a variety of writing projects while traveling more than usual. Because my travel included driving significant distances—alone in my car with my thoughts—I have had ample time to reflect, and insufficient time to record these reflections in my writer’s notebook.

This week I discovered there’s an App to address my issue: Dragon Dictation.

In the Week of the Dragon, I tested the voice recognition technology of my iPad and found it to be quite impressive. The dragon transcribed my words with 98% accuracy, and I was able to speak in a normal tone of voice. The voice of the transcription, however, was wooden and uninspiring.

I recognize that one week of experimentation constitutes a mere test-case rather than a double-blind study.  Nevertheless, the Week of the Dragon validated my deeply held beliefs about writing and strengthened my commitment to the ritual practice of taking pen to paper.

I tossed my dictated piece into the virtual trash can—despite the compelling idea it contained—because I couldn’t muster enough interest in my own words to develop the theme and revise the prose.

Maybe I will try again in the Week of the Knight.

For now, I lay my pen to rest, unplug the gadgets and honor another weekly ritual:

Shabbat shalom, wishing you a peaceful Sabbath!