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The Significance of a Morning Walk

My mind senses a comfort that I do not ordinarily encounter when I am trying to meditate at home or even during my runs. This practice of walking is soothing, like a soft lullaby putting a baby to sleep. As I continue to walk, pieces of my past make their debut.

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The Power of Ritual

I am not as honest as I’d like to be, not as compassionate, not as generous, not as loving. There is a tyranny in setting expectations of ourselves and others that are unattainable. There is a freedom that comes with self-forgiveness and self-compassion, with acknowledging that even though I will never find every last crumb, my home is kosher for Passover.

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Small Steps toward Calm

Meditation often feels like a maze in which I cannot ever exit. I enter, fumble around, but the restlessness persists. That “Zen” feeling is like a ghost in my life. It appears as an apparition and then disappears before I can really fathom what it means. My attention span is finite. I realize my failure at meditation is not in the practice, but the attention I often direct toward results. Over and over again, the same mantra keeps chanting in surround-sound. “You have to appreciate the process.”

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Taking Refuge in Breath

For most of my life, the act of being busy has given me the momentum to breathe. The need to do more than one task at the same time always yells at me, whether it is talking on the phone and typing on the computer, reading a book while I move my feet on the elliptical machine, or helping my daughter with her homework while I compose my own to-do lists. I’m not certain this is an effective way to live; Stillness becomes elusive, almost a riddle I am unequipped to solve.

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The Water Project

When my organization, Rebecca Davis Dance Company (RDDC), set up a water project in a rural village on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I chose to use dance as the medium of communication. Through dance, we would teach children and the community effective water usage to help families survive during the dry season.

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Three Beliefs about God

Always one to think out loud, I first responded that I believe I am loved. This belief encourages me to love others in return and simplifies the way I think about love. It is just what I try my best to do. And I don’t simply love people like me or who I know will love me in return. I love because God loved me first and because I don’t always deserve it either.

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Holding Ourselves Accountable

Our teachers’ values at Salanter Yeshiva were drummed into us with a very heavy hand. We heard many stories about people burning in hell (geihinnom) for their sins and were told that if we did not observe all the commandments, we would be joining them. Whether we were asked if we had remembered to pray the evening service the night before or if we had told any lies this week, the emphasis was invariably on the reward or punishment for compliance or noncompliance.

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The Neighbor at the Door

I think I am afraid. Even if God showed up at my door, not as a burning bush, but as a friendly neighbor with wine and cheese and a great big hug (I love wine and cheese and a good squeeze), would I let Him in? I hope so.

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Is God Near?

My dad used to sit on the edge of my bed as I said my prayers at night. I would picture God hovering high over the Earth, reigning from the dark expanse of zero gravity, the sun illuminating His being above us. I have never pictured God as a white bearded old man sitting on a throne of clouds. I have always pictured Him with the face of Jesus whose picture hung in my grandmother’s terrace kitchen.