Category Archives: Sivan

Travel Blog 9

So, I found myself in Toronto (this is back many months ago, but I’m seriously catching up on this now) and it was the end of the month. So, for me to have a walk I had to do something that month – so I opened my great trail map and looked and there it was! The great trail went right from union station. How could I resist?

I must say, I had been expecting worse. Yes, this was a city hike but it was through some very nice well-laid out cobblestone paths with interesting trees and gardens planted nearby and quite decent architecture. The great trail did not disappoint this time. I passed a number of joggers. I always do on the great trail – it’s clearly a nice running area. Less bikers on this one, but more joggers.

There were many nice places to walk through or to sit and look at things. It was a pleasant walk.

This was a nifty little art project in the middle. I enjoyed the weird wavy things that had been randomly put in – and looking out over the lake also.

Ooh, a little parkette in the middle of the city. Should I go in? Yes, I definitely should! These parkettes were tiny but quite pretty and I enjoyed walking through them.

Although it was late in the season for flowers, the leaves on the ground helped add to the beauty of the trail.

Although – there were some flowers. I appreciated the care put in to the construction of this flowerbed, for instance. First, it had something that would bloom year round, and second, it was clearly build with an eye to the buildings behind it, creating a pleasing sort of going up as a ladder image of plants, rocks, plants, bushes and trees, buildings.

I had been walking for an hour and I had reached the Exhibition. Another piece of the great trail, walked!

(That’s another 3 km for a total of 31 km.)

Click on the link for pictures and all important maps! Trip 9 Blog

Omer Count – Day 5

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day five of the Omer. Hayom yom hamishi laOmer.

Today is Hod be Khesed, gratitude within love, acceptance within kindness.

Kids are super strong and mega-resilient. They are also deeply and profoundly fragile. Today, I remember a day long ago when I got something from a kid. I wasn’t very good at saying thank you, and it was a poorly made piece of crumpled paper in the shape of a bird with badly stuck on bits. There were lots of other crumpled pieces of paper stuck to various surfaces, and the morkers were everywhere and marker marks were on lots of things that weren’t for drawing on at all, never mind with marker. I said something akin to “what on Earth have you been doing?! This is a disaster And what is that thing?” The kid walked away in tears. It turns out that she had worked on this creation a very long time and was quite proud of her artistic skills and had been thinking happily of the look of joy and love on my face as she handed this thing to me.

Kids don’t remember stuff like that (I hope) so I doubt she remembers the day. I remember it though – and I remember it as the day when I wasn’t as kind or thoughtful as I should have been. Maybe I was tired? I was often tired. Potentially, but it is not a good excuse. It wasn’t the kid’s job to get past my tiredness, it was mine. I did apologize after, but I regretted the missed opportunity. It helps me to remember that kindness is key, and that I can express true heartfelt gratitude for the kid’s project just because she had made it for me.

Today, may I be kind enough to be grateful for the gifts people give me, even if they are not what I want at first.

Omer Post – Day 49

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty nine, which is seven weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve tesha she hem shiva shavuot laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Malkhut, majesty within majesty, presence within presence.

I feel tired and a bit useless today. Sometimes, I try and I try – and at the end, I feel as if I’d never needed to have bothered. I am never sure if anyone reads these posts. I know that mostly, the kids wish they didn’t have to do any math and this term has been a “let’s make it happen” battle. With family – the kids are growing up there too, and sometimes, I’m not sure that what I’m providing is the best and strongest support I can. Again, I make an effort, but for every 2 steps forward, there is definitely one back. As for personal growth, definitely some head bashing against wall there. More than once, I’ve started to make a difference and it’s gone nowhere fast – a small thing derailed me and then I didn’t even feel like trying any longer. So has anything I’ve done been worthwhile at all?

I have to fight to remember the positives – the young people at school who are going to better programs in university (or university at all) because of the skills I gave them, both in mathematics and otherwise. The occasional sweet note from someone who proved that the posts are being read – and sometimes that holds the answer to my questions right there. I liked this quote from Cliff Lilliman who tells me that I am OK at family some of the time.

“God burst forth in creative joy, knew it to the end and saw it was good. Then ‘I Am’ left us in ignorance so we chould discover this reality for ourselves.”

Good reminder, Cliff. I have to remember that if God has a plan and it’s a good plan. If I haven’t succeeded, I can at least learn valuable lessons about what not to do. I just have to show up, and keep showing up and it’s that which makes the omer so significant. Each day I’ve counted the Omer, I’ve shown up. Every day I’ve shown up, I brought myself closer to where God expects me to be – in my home, in my family, leading a life I’m supposed to lead. That’s pretty much what bein noble means to me: being aware that God has a plan and that I can keep following it.

Today, I keep showing up. I keep doing the do things. I do them with awareness and I know – that this is where nobility lies.

Omer Count – Day 48

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty eight, which is six weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve shmone she hem shisha shavuot ve shisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Malkhut, intimacy within nobility, family within presence.

Today, our old kitty died. She was very old, and had stopped functioning well, and it was her time. She died quietly, at her home and the children had a sweet goodbye funeral for her. It was the 2nd such that I had been a part of and to me, a really important part of what it means to be family and community. Sometimes, that means saying ‘hello’ to those who are special in our lives, to welcoming them and honouring their presence and appreciating them as part of our family. And sometimes, it means saying goodbye and thanking them for their contribution and for their participation in our family, and recognizing that they’ve moved on and we’ll miss them. And this is true for both cats and people.

Today, I.say goodbye to Nyrah who was a noble cat and an important member of the family

Omer Count – Day 47

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty seven, which is six weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve sheva she hem shisha shavuot ve hamisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Malkhut, gratitude within majesty, humility within nobility.

Today is a day where I say thank you for who I am. Today I recognize my place in the world, neither grander nor less than anyone. As I recognize myself I realize how many wonderful things I can do. It’s interesting – when I don’t think about it, when I just sort of do what I need to do as a piece of the puzzle, with gratitude and humility (when that means knowing one’s place) then I can see where I fit and the world makes more sense. It’s like one of those dot pictures that have a hidden image, where the more you stare at it, the less it shows. When I over-focus, worry at the world like at a thread sticking out of my jacket and try to force the world, I can’t figure out why everything is so weird and awful and nothing works. When I approach with humility and gratitude, I see that the world is magical, and I a noble member of an august society.

Today, I stop worrying at the world – I don’t need it to unravel. I approach it with gratitude and humility and let myself perceive God’s plan. That plan has majesty and I a noble role.

Omer Count – Day 46

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty six, which is six weeks and four days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve shesh she hem shisha shavuot ve arba’a yammim laOmer.

Today is Netzakh be Malkhut, victory within majesty, conquest within nobility.

It’s hard to think about victory on a day like today when I feel pretty weak and hopeless. I don’t think I have the courage to keep doing this against the clear disdain of others, against everyone telling me it’s a lamp not a sun. (When the witch in “the silver chair” tells the heroes they’ve made the sun and grass and everything else up using visible objects like lamps, my favourite replies, “I like the sun and the grass and God and I’m going to keep believing in them even if you’re right and I did just imagine them”.) Some days, one wants to just say, “you’re right, there is no magic, the world is a dreary cave with no sunshine  and no fun and nothing but drudgery and that’s how it is, now can I sleep?”

But then I think about leaders. Noble people whom I respect. They didn’t always win. Like Puddleglum (the hero mentioned above), they never gave up on those days. They took each setback, each defeat as another step on their road. They kept trying. They turned each no into a yes, and finally, they won through. If I’m to emulate them, then even though I’m tired, I’ll keep cheerfully teaching, claiming that what I do is essential, and living in the world I know *should* exist.

Today, I can win if I keep trying. That’s true nobility – to not give up.

Omer Count – Day 45

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty five, which is six weeks and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve hamesh she hem shisha shavuot ve shlosha yammim laOmer.

Today is Tiferet be Malkhut, beauty within majesty, loveliness within nobility.

You know what’s beautiful and majestic? My egg collection. I’ve been collecting eggs for 30 years now. I look for unique interesting ones, some of stone and some of glass, some of china and some of metal, some of wood and some are plastic. Of course some are real also. Today, a bunch of my eggs fell and broke – they had been carefully placed on a sturdy hanging shelf, which broke off the wall. I was very sad. Some of those eggs were given to me by people I loved – and some were broken irretrievably. I was also irritated. Fixing this situation was going to be a great deal of time – which I didn’t have.

But you know what else is lovely and noble? Not giving up is. I will try to fix or replace some of my eggs. I will find another unique egg that I care about. My collection may have had a minor set-back, but it will live and thrive. I just have to keep working towards the beauty I know is there.

Never giving up is the key to nobility, in my opinion. A noble person is someone who persists. Whether that’s persistence in a war, or a year with crop failures, or a careful, well-written law, or an egg collection maintained – not giving up results in beauty within nobility.

Today, I won/t give up no matter what challenges are there. That way, I can reach for beauty and nobility no matter what.

Omer Count – Day 30

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day thirty which is four weeks and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim she hem arba’a shavuot vey shtey yammim laOmer.

Today is Gevurah be Hod, strength within gratitude, might within thanksgiving.

I am grateful that I can read. Not everyone can. Reading is a strength and a power that I want to celebrate today. I thought that rather than go on and on about how cool books are, I’d share my top 10. (Put yours in the comments, and we’ll learn more about each other and the universe.)

My top 10 books:

  1. Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery – an orphan girl is sent to live with a crotchety brother and sister on Prince Edward Island and all are transformed.
  2. Little Women – Luisa May Alcott – 4 girls grow up together through poverty, war, and snippy relatives and neighbours

Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert A. Heinlein – a man from Mars comes to Earth and changes the way he and countless others interact and perceive.

  1. Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach – a messiah story involving a seagull who just wanted to really learn how to fly
  2. Small Gods – Terry Pratchett – What if you were just a young hapless apprentice monk and your leader was a rather nasty inquisitioner and your God was a tortoise? A must-read for anyone claiming to be religious.
  3. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card – When another species attacks the Earth, someone must be found to stop them. When the best person to do that is a small boy, tragedy and love, growth and loss all play a part in a bittersweet account that shows the issues with war from a different perspective.
  4. Lord of the Rings Series – J. R.R. Tolkein – Should the mystical ring of the evil overlord ever be reclaimed by him, he will take over the world. It is up to some very unlikely characters to find a way to prevent that.
  5. Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle – Space travel is possible but it has its risks when 3 children go up against darkness to rescue their father.
  6. Exodus – Leon Uris – The settling of Israel is a complex story full of evil, good, heartbreak and growth. Join with various settlers to see what could have happened when Jews returned to their ‘promised land’.
  7. Narnia Series – C.S. Lewis – Various children travel to another world to discover how wonder, magic, good, evil, and so on really work. (Puddleglum Marshwiggle is one of my all time guides and heros)
  8. The girl who stepped on a loaf of bread – and other stories by Hans Christian Andersen – an excellent collection of fairy tales, this particular one follows a proud girl to hell and back as she steps on a loaf of bread that was meant to be a gift to her parents to protect her shiny shoes.

Today, I read. That brings knowledge and so, strength, into my life. I am grateful for reading as a way of exploring the world.

Omer Count – Day 33

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day thirty three, which is four weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve shalosh she hem arba’a shavuot ve hamisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Hod, gratitude within gratitude, thankfulness within thankfulness

Sometimes we flat-out miss the carob trees in our lives. So when Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was stuck in a cave, God created a carob tree for the Rabbi to ensure that he always had food and could stay alive. In some ways, I feel that Rabbi Bar Yochai totally missed this. He could have spent the rest of his time so overflowing with gratitude that he just did nice things for people. Instead, he totally took the whole thing for granted, and, in fact, was MAD at people for farming rather than relying on their own carob trees.

I can get into the same loop. Instead of being so grateful for my teaching ability that I celebrate it and help others to whatever extent possible, I can get mad at them for not practicing enough to live up to my standards. This causes others to be resentful and angry. In many ways, it blocks the miracle, because I can teach less well. It’s easy to do, though, with the aspects of the world that we’re good at. We forget that maybe other people are NOT. We forget that our knowledge and success are at least in part, miracles – gifts from God that are there to help us see the world as a magnificent place and to pass the gifts and beauty we find on to others.

When we remember, however, and gratitude within gratitude within gratitude is the only way to remember – that our talents are miracles, the world becomes more beautiful, our love becomes more strong, and we start to grow as people and as a community where we help others by sharing our miracles. It’s our very flaws that are worth being grateful for because they remind us how much of a gift those miracles truly are.

Today, I am grateful for the gifts that God has given me – the carob tree miracles in my life – and I am grateful also for the challenges that highlight and remind me of those miracles. I share my gifts with others because they have different miracles and challenges in their lives.

Omer Count – Day 31

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day thirty one which is four weeks and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve ehad she hem arba’a shavuot ve shlosha yammim laOmer.

Today is Tiferet be Hod, beauty within gratitude, grace within thanksgiving.

Today I appreciate the beauty of a weekend full of family. From climbing trees to doing puzzles, from learning math to learning Talmud, from silly shows to serious conversations, from going on walks to having a barbeque, sometimes it’s good to spend time with loved ones.  By appreciating the weekend, I make it more beautiful. Acknowledging the connections I’ve enjoyed and participated in highlights them in my mind and brings them into sharper relief. It’s easy to have a good time and then forget all about it – or even to remember only the negative details – the time one slipped and fell or the time someone said something in an aggressive way. Then, the times spent together seem mostly negative and ugly. The alternative to that is gratitude and it makes the day more beautiful.

Today, I am grateful for the positive times I spend with family, because family time is beautiful.