December 26, 2012

JOY Available, Despite Tragedy

I turn to Martin Buber when I want inspiration, a kick in my brain which causes deep reflection.  Such is today, a day requiring inspiration.  My flaming sore throat of two days ago finally settled into my upper chest with a cough and a soggy nose leaking thin mucous.  The saving grace is that nothing coming out is green, or even the faintest yellow, thus whatever this "cold", upper respiratory  event is, it is not and hopefully will not become severe.

But cause enough for a disruption of the end of year gaiety and plans.  Not to mention, dare I mention, the horror, the tragedy of the pre-holiday killing of 26 in Newtown, Connecticut, and the latest news of the ambush set to kill two firefighters in Webster, New York.  The destruction wrought by two crazed men.

So I turn to Martin Buber, who always lifts my spirit, causes me to reflect deeply, stirs my soul to tears, and affords me simple joy and peace.

His essays on Hasidim, especially touch me.  In these essays, attempting to explain the transcendent joy that faith can produce, Buber seems to be channeling the Baal Shem Tov.

Here are a few short quotes of Buber's which brought me JOY on this three very wet handkerchief morning:

      "Hasidism sets the simple truth that the wretchedness of our world is grounded in its resistance to the entrance of the holy into lived life."  
       "...our relations to things and beings form the marrow of our existence...."  
       "The Hasidic teaching of the holy engagement with all existing beings opposes this corrosion [this wretchedness]...."

Clearly, the madmen in our world do not seek to engage with the Holy, the Divine.  Their lack of engagement causes pain for the rest of us.

I continue to seek the Holy in everyday, simple, repetitive acts, even this non-stop blowing my nose.



October 17, 2012

Question Posed to Editor of New York Times

The following is my question to Jill Abramson, Executive Editor of the New York Times (sent today, October 17, 2012):

Hello Ms. Abramson,
Thank you for providing this forum for NY Times readers.
My question has to do with the epidemic of "lifestyle" diseases: diabetes, gastro-intestinal disorders, heart disease, hypertension, gout, etc., whose etiology stems from Metabolic Syndrome, which stems from obesity.

I am asking if the Times is willing to commit to a concerted effort to have reporters investigate what specific and practical/real things we as a society can do to begin to lessen the incidence of these related diseases.  Can we begin a real dialogue with the food industry (all aspects of the food industry from farming to manufacture to distribution to fast food/leisure dining), with Congress, with big pharma, with large and small corporations being willing to change the vending and food available to workers, being willing to have paid exercise breaks, etc.; to see what can be done to reverse these deadly and very costly diseases.

Would fast food be willing to begin to serve all of their bread products with 30% whole wheat flour, increasing over a 10 year period to 80% whole wheat flour?  Will Congress be willing to investigate the rise in obesity with the increase of sugared drinks (including the juice provided by the WIC program)?  Would Big Pharma be willing to devote half of their advertising time to prevention of the GI, erectile dysfunction, high cholesterol, diabetes for which they tout their medicines?

When I hear the Presidential and VP debates mention the rising cost of one, not a one mentions the need to control and reverse our obesity/Metabolic Syndrome problem.
Medicare costs will not begin to be checked unless and until we do.

Thank you again for your willingness to read and respond to our questions.
Mary Farkas
(I hold an M.S., and M.A. and am a retired Registered Dietitian)

July 06, 2012

Another Gem found in my Siddur

My Siddur (Jewish prayer book) is filled with gems of poetry. Not only the beautiful Shabbat prayers which we recite as a group, extolling the wonders of Creation, blessing and praising the Creator; but also poems which capture the mood of the Shabbat service.

Such is a poem, When I Die, by Merrit Malloy.  It is one of several meditative poems to be read prior to the recitation of the Mourner's Kaddish.  Poems which ask us to reflect on the frailty of our human condition, our too human body. Counterpoised to the actual Kaddish prayer which clearly proclaims the perfection of creation, and God's plan for creation which of course contains the living and the dead:
Exalted and hallowed be God's great name
in the world which God created, according to plan.

I'd like to quote the last stanza of Ms. Malloy's poem, When I Die.  It is one of the poems I'll ask to be read at the service held in honor of my departure from life.  Yes, I have begun to collect such poems because I am fully aware of how fleeting is our stay here.

Last stanza of When I Die by Merrit Malloy:

You can love me best by letting hands touch hands,
and by letting go of children that need to be free.
Love doesn't die, people do.
So, when all that's left of me is love,
give me away.

June 18, 2012


The chirp and whistle of the morning birds
accompany me as we give praise to our Maker.
Their happy sounds hide the low roar and rumble
of the morning commute.

The doves' distinct cooing punctuates above the rest.
The grandeur of the soloist, the accomplished
tenor who commands special attention,
calling the world to Hope.

June 06, 2012

I Am Again Invincible

I am well enough, better than well enough, to return to this forum for my thoughts.

When I could not walk, needing crutches or a God sent scooter to get around [my good left leg pushed while I rested my right knee on the scooter's seat]; when I suffered such severe pain that I could only play music through headphones to comfort me, or sleep; then I had no desire to write. I barely had desire to live.

Now the pain is not constant, just a nagging reminder when I walk. I yearn to walk again without pain; and am hopeful that one day I will. Now my mind is clear and filled with things to write, things which I believe are worth reading.

Let me begin with this:

I too once seemed invincible,
nothing could touch me. I was innocent.
I worked, loved my work of teaching
helping people change their lives;
I gardened everyday, after work;
I was strong in all the ways
that humans need strength - body, mind, soul.

I was greatly loved and I mightily returned
her love.
I thought we would process our cares and thoughts,
process our way to bliss, forever.
My life seemed set and secure.

She died unexpectedly
and I was left heartbroken and mute
my breath knocked out of my being.

Now, pain and years later, I am again invincible.
Not in the ways of the innocent,
those who haven't yet lost their hearts, their souls;
those who haven't faced death.

No, now in the way of the wise am I invincible.
In the way of ones who have felt the deepest pain
the deepest hurt the deepest loss...
and decide to laugh and sing and give Praise
despite, in spite of it all.

I am again strong and secure and know
that I can bear and accept with grace
what comes in my life unknown.
And joyously sing: Thank You for another day
another opportunity to love your Creation.

March 24, 2012

She Comforts Herself With the Sound of All

She comforts herself in the wee hours of the morning with the sound of the Universe gently humming in her ears. Three to five hours after retiring she would routinely awaken,unable to return to sleep. Either the throbbing pain of her fractured foot would wake her, or the need to relieve herself of the large cup of chamomile tea habitually consumed prior to bed. She could no longer remember sleeping through the entire night. And she could no longer remember a time before the comfort of the sound of the Universe.

This sound, Universal sound, comes to her ears unbidden, constant and gentle. It needs only stillness and silence to appear, and it never fails. This thin subtle sound, a delicate hum, maybe a G major (but giving it clear definition is too limiting; just as we can never truly define the essence of the force which permeates all). This sound fills her entire being with the essence of All; it allows her to ignore the constant pain; allows her to again find sleep and peace. It takes the place of thought.

She is sleeping now nine to ten hours each night. The daily pain grinds her down, saps her energy and will. She thankfully does not work; retired now after years of excess labor. The insanity of sixty hour weeks, plus food shop, home and garden chores, and the normal social responsibilities of middle age. Now she is able to sleep more than a third of the day. Enabling the bone to knit together, build and heal, as it does in sleep.

The delicate sound of All, now comes unbidden, ears fully open, requiring only stillness to reverberate in her being. It took years and years of purposely listening, purposely sitting in the prescribed posture, purposely closing out the world, closing her ears to hear this sound of All trickle into her consciousness. She practiced Surat Shabd Yoga, finding joy when the Universal sound flowed into her being. Advanced practitioners, and she was not, were known to hear entire symphonies of ethereal music. She was pleased to just be able to sit, actually hover, balanced over her two feet planted on the ground, knees up and supporting her arms, her hands on either side of her head, fingers closing off her ears to the world. In the early years this sound of All mostly eluded her, but she performed the ritual of hearing with full hope.

Now, more than thirty years later, with equal days not sitting/hovering, not bidding the sound of All to attend to her Soul; the sound of the Universe comes to her nightly. This sound allows her to trust and believe and stay positive and have faith that the Essence of the force which permeates All remains in her heart; has never left her; continues to return, predictably now, provide peace comfort and joy.

February 24, 2012

Prayer from Rabbi Chaim Stern

I quote from my Siddur (Reform Judaism prayer book) a prayer which touched my heart this morning. I want to share these beautiful words of Chaim Stern:

Days pass and the years vanish, and we walk sightless among miracles.
God, fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing;
let there be moments when Your Presence, like lightning,
illumines the darkness in which we walk.
Help us to see, wherever we gaze, that the bush burns unconsumed.
And we, clay touched by God, will reach out for holiness, and exclaim in wonder:
How filled with awe is this place, and we did not know it!

Blessed is the Eternal One, the Holy God!

February 18, 2012

Reclaiming My Foot

Today I touched my right foot, my fractured ankle right foot, for the first time in a month. It had been under wraps in a too tight large blood blister pain causing splint; in a too heavy, feeling like I'm dragging a 100 pound ball and chain plaster of Paris cast; in lighter yet terribly confining and still too heavy fiberglass casts. I'd not seen my foot, my skin had been untouchable, for weeks.

Today I was free to look and touch. To take a good look at the shriveled, reptile peeling discolored skin, healing blood tattooed blister scabs, the edematous toes, the suture scars, the badly shrunken calf muscle, the clean nicely healed incisions. Today I was finally able to see what one month post fracture, two weeks post surgery does to the human foot.

Today I touched this foot, this fractured appendage which I'd disowned, which I'd only related to in disbelief, incredulity, shock, denial. I had disenfranchised myself from this painful visible evidence of my inconceivable fall, this inconceivable fracture which overnight caused major disruption to my life. I had distanced myself, my heart, my being from this fractured foot.

It caused tremendous pain, especially at night disrupting sleep; it could not be wet; it lay uncomfortably propped on always falling pillows. It was the encumbrance reminding me of the terrible inconceivable life altering fall of January 14, 2012. The fall occurred while walking my two doggies. I'd bent down to adjust one collar and when I stood up, the leash got tangled in my fancy, new, distinctly flawed design of the soles of my Saucony Pro Grid running shoe. The leash wrapped around the fancy "support" round outcroppings of the sole, and suddenly I was lassoed, as in the old cowboy movies. Boom! I was down! No warning! Down I went and landed on my right foot, badly fracturing my ankle.

Today I slowly felt this fractured foot. My foot. I slowly allowed the reality of my injury to curse through me. I took ownership of my mishap, my misfortune, and the ugly repercussions. Today I gently applied a sweet scented body cream to every inch of my poorly neglected foot. I massaged, felt, caressed and poured love and my life back into this so taken for granted vital part of me.
And I cried.

January 10, 2012

I already love 2012

I already love 2012. It is already filled with newness, aliveness, new beauty and possibilities. A new woman has entered my life who I have begun to learn from.

She is teaching me.

And I've had very little contact with her really. But she has occupied my brain
with questions, thoughts, wonder.

2012 and I already like her. I like how she looks and sounds and feels, already.

I also wish to memorialize today (still another reason I already love 2012)
by noting that it was tonight, January 7th, that I "got it" that I have what I
was meant to have in relationship to another. The other who occupied my brain body heart and soul for two years. It became crystal clear that I have learned, I have related to, we have had give and take, we have had give and take, and she has said good-bye, and so have I.

2012 has already, in its short infancy, provided me with incredible jaw dropping amazement. Thank you 2012. Thank you Adonai for allowing me the gift of discernment, new opportunity, new possibility of lessons and love.

January 04, 2012

A Time of Richness

I have bathed in the thoughtful words of my old friend Janice these past few days. I have felt the luxury of spending whole days with someone totally trusted, totally non-judgmental, totally comfortable with me, her, us. Sharing precious time together; precious because it is not often spent.

Today I also spent precious time with a new friend Andy. The process of shared discovery in telling who we are.

I said:
I don't do superficial.
I like to go deep.
Into the very heart and soul of a matter,
into feeling, into movement, into moment.

She said:
Yes, I know.

I didn't ask her how she knows; I trust she can see.

As I play back this morning's exchange, I can't help but note,
in awe and wonder:
That delving into the contemplation of G-d, the Divine,
is the deepest I can go.

Once there, heart fully open,
there comes a joy and aliveness
that knows no bounds.

A burst of sparks and flame which allows
body, mind, heart, soul to be part of the One.

The richness of human communication; a path to the Divine.

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