Life is a journey

Birth is a beginning and death a destination

And life is a journey

From childhood to maturity

And youth to age,

From innocence to awareness

And ignorance to knowing,

From foolishness to discretion

And then, perhaps to wisdom,

From weakness to strength

Or strength to weakness,

And often back again.

From health to sickness

And back, we pray, to health again

From offense to forgiveness

From loneliness to love

From joy to gratitude

From pain to compassion

And grief to understanding

From fear to faith

From defeat to defeat to defeat

Until, looking backward or ahead

We see that victory lies not at some high place along the way

But in having made the journey, stage by stage, a sacred pilgrimage

Birth is a beginning

Death a destination

But life is a journey

From birth to death to life everlasting

Author unknown, from the prayer book of the Shiva of my friend.

Baruch, my friends, Baruch

(Blessing, my friends, blessings)

SB

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When all that’s left of me is love…

When I die, give what’s left of me away to children, or to old men that wait to die.

If you need to cry, cry for your brother walking the street beside you

And when you need me, put your arms around anyone and give them what you need to give me

I want to leave you something, something better than words or sounds,

Look for me in the people I’ve known Or loved

And if you cannot give me away, at least let me live in your eye and not in your mind

You can love me most by letting hands touch hands,

Love doesn’t die, people do

So when all that’s left of me is love,

Give me away

Author unknown, from the Prayer book at the Shiva of a friend

Be blessed,

SB

Shiva

Last March, the world lost a wonderfully eclectic soul, Eric Cohen. He died far too young of cancer. His sister and my sister were best friends ever since they were in 7 th grade and our families got to know each other well. Eric was a fellow musician, and invited me to play in his band when I was in 7 th grade, my first band. He looked out for me as if he were my older brother. Although he never asked me personally, my mother said that when he was in high school, he asked her if he could someday marry me, and promised to become a doctor so he could take good care of me. Lol. He had multiple doctorates when he died, in sociology and psychology, though he died essentially penniless. We never married nor even dated, but he was always a friend.

Eric was a very free soul, and extremely eccentric. He was the only Jewish Mason I ever knew, and he had a giant heart for people. Here he is in Central Park. I had a poster made of this picture for my studio, to remind me of his creativity.

Last Sunday, just eleven months after Eric died, his father died of a heart attack….or broken heart.

Last night was a Shiva service for Eric’s father, at their home. It was the first I’ve ever experienced. I have tremendous respect for Jews, as they are Gods chosen people, and the service was awe inspiring. Though I don’t know much Hebrew, (I know a few key words like Baruch (blessing) and Adonai (God)), I sat quietly during the service, just drinking it all in. I could feel the presence of God as His people followed their rites. I followed along in the prayer book, where some was written in Hebrew and some English.

Toward the end of the service, they observed silence and encouraged participants to pray either on their own or to some of the prayers and poems in the service book. I hope it was ok, I took a picture of the two that stood out to me. I don’t know who wrote these, so I don’t know who to give appropriate credit to, but am trusting that it’s ok to share.

The last stanza of ” when I die” is my favorite. I will post these as separate posts because I feel their words are incredible.

Birth is a beginning is among the most touching works I’ve ever read. It speaks to me in volumes, and fits so well with my blog that I think I will stick it to my home page (if I can figure out how)

Be blessed today, my friends.

SB

NYC Missions

As I get on my bike today, my mind wanders through various trains of thought… first I think about riding my bike, and the upcoming bike fundraiser I’m preparing for… then ultimately the purpose of that fundraiser… our NYC missions trip coming up in June.

Over the next several Saturday’s, I will details of our trip, and anticipate the experiences we’ll have this June. I’m excited for the trip and the For people going on the trip.

We went on a similar trip several years ago, with a small crew, our first time taking children to NYC. I’d been in New York before, and I love the hustle and bustle of big cities but it was honestly a little intimidating to be responsible for youth in such a big place.

The adults in our crew were Pastor Jerry, our children’s pastor, two young couples and myself. Both Jerry and I have been on plenty of trips with youth over the years, but for the others in our group, this was their first.

Our service projects included:

1) working in the World Vision warehouse preparing clothing packets for underprivileged

2) a gardening project

3) meals on “heels”

4) working in a soup kitchen

And, of course, plenty of time for fun

I’ll share more details about our trip but for now, my bike is calling me!

Be blessed today, my friends!!

My prayer today….

My prayer today is for all those who are lost and hurting, unable to forgive themselves for things they have done, all who continue making the same poor decisions over and over and over again.  There’s nothing that you’ve done that could ever make God love you less than He did when He sent His Son to pay your debt.

He paid the debt he didn’t owe because you owed a debt you couldn’t pay.  It’s been paid for you in full…  completely.. and He’s waiting to welcome you home.

Don’t hesitate, even if you don’t fully understand – take the first step toward Him and He will help you with the rest.

My heart is breaking for those in the darkness – he wants soooo much more for you

Know that He doesn’t want to leave you where you are….

In Him,

SB

Bleed just to know you’re alive

In the Goo Goo Dolls song, Iris, I am particularly drawn to one line:

“Yeah You bleed just to know you’re alive”

My first real introduction to cutters occurred years ago when I worked as a mentor with a group from our church in a program designed to help kids with addictive behaviors. Fascinated by the concept, I bonded with a few girls in our group who were cutters and wondered why I had never thought of it myself. Truly. Cutting wasn’t a thing when I was young. If it had been, I’d have done it. People think it’s strange when I say that, but it’s one hundred percent truth.

My teenage years were so full of darkness, hopelessness and despair, it truly was only by the grace of God I’m here today. Those closest to me at the time had no idea the depths of my depression and misery. In hindsight I believe my darkness birthed an empathy in me toward hurting people, and desire to not leave them where they are.

The interesting thing about cutters, though, is they don’t do it to hurt themselves. They do it to make sure they can still feel. Their minds have become so dull and numb from the pain they experience that they truly feel nothing. But they don’t want to feel nothing. They want to know they are still alive and so they cut to make sure.

The girls in our group usually cut in inconspicuous places, their abdomen, thigh, forearm. Their appendages would be filled with tiny scars and cuts. The most extreme i ever saw was a girl I’ll call Sophia.

Sophia always wore jeans, even in the blazing summer heat. I’ve known Sophia for her entire life. I will spare some details, but suffice to say her life has not been easy. She and I share a special bond As a young, extremely rambunctious child, her smile was infectious. She was full of life and energy and always brought a smile to my face. As she grew, I watched the smile slowly disappear from her face, replaced by a withdrawn, sullen expression. Often aloof, she doesn’t integrate well with other girls her age; she is looking for her niche.

She had an opportunity to be baptized. To prepare for the baptism service, she put on a pair of shorts. I didn’t even know she owned a pair. Without a word about it, she emerged, exposing her legs to the public for the first time in forever. Both legs, from the knees down, were covered in literally thousands of tiny scars, each about a half inch long, in every direction, creating sort of a cross hatch pattern on her legs. Not a quarter of an inch of skin was free of a scar.

Some of the girls with us were quietly horrified. I was not. My heart bled a bit, and I embraced her and her decision to become a new creature in Christ. Like me, she will evolve over time. She is like a butterfly, given a new lease on life. She’s in my prayers and thoughts, just like so many others on this journey to figure life out.

I believe the scripture above that says we are new creatures in Christ, but I believe the transformation happens over time, as we allow God to work in our lives. Sure there are some with a radical change, but most transform as they are able to align their desires with Gods, which is usually not instantaneous.

My own journey from darkness has been life long, and there is still deep within me a tendency toward it. I must be vigilant to keep myself focused where I need to be to avoid the trap of falling into my old patterns. I am confident that God is still shaping Sophia and me (and you) into who He wants us to become.

Be blessed today, my friends

SB

The book, Masquerade, chronicles Charissa’s journey through depression. If you have read it, thank you! If you haven’t, you can get it Here

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My Father’s will

35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

John 6:35-37