mosh at masada photographed by Russell Moskowitz.

my mind was once again wondering where to start… Day 6, my most memorable moment, the spirit that russ’s picture of mosh captures and embodies for me? and then i went to look for a link to attach to russ’s name, a way to give further credit to the photographer. if you haven’t clicked on the link you should… reading russ’s story, feeling the tears swell in my eyes, i smiled…i am so thankful for the gift of such unique, special, and amazing individuals with whom i’ve shared these moments.

my favorite excursion was the sunrise hike up har yishai , mt. jesse. (this post becomes more and more syncronistic by the moment). During the hike Michael invited us to enjoy a silent hike, reflecting upon that which we yearn for in our lives, taking time to notice and experience the sun’s grand entrance into our day.

“so hiking up to mt. jesse i put my intention into having a spiritual community. it is for a community in which spiritually i may grow and develop with others that i crave–yearn for. beyond setting this intention, it received no further thought. i was in israel…hiking in the desert. walking a top this holy land — blessed by community and surrounded by divinity. for me, i enjoyed the silence. i noticed the change in my breathing. i yearned at times to stop and rest for a moment, while marveling at that space just on the edge of invigorating endurance and fatigue. i felt the air flow so cleanly in through my nose. i was enchanted by the different sounds our feet made while crunching, knocking, echoing with the rock beneath. and when we stopped. i felt like i was watching a movie! this fantastic screen was spread before me. i felt welcomed. and then scattered amongst the rocks were all of these amazing friends–sharing their insights and contemplations. i felt blessed. community. as people shared their yearnings, i inwardly smiled as i felt the presence of my own.”

going back to russ’s words, he talks of the many miracles that happen every day. i love being amongst people that take time to notice, appreciate, and give thanks for those small and large miracles. sharing in that joy of being amazed.

while on that hike, inside i felt like that image up above of mosh in the desert.

“the desert in israel. breathing with god. to me, i am closest to god when i enter the sacred space of the land. the barren body of the mother – a physical source through which i may witness the manifestations of life. no confusion of the mind. no influence of intellect, industry. her purity speaks for itself. time and space communicate the tangibility of life lived. the sphere of the earth and the many flavors that decorate its surface — the infinite pulse that originates at the source and vibrates through the land, through the atmosphere, through you and me into eternity. with the undeniable physical presence, it is easiest for me to commune with, marvel at, relate to, wonder about, understand, feel embraced by divinity. i feel like i am breathing with god — and through the landscape i get to watch god’s breath…”

here’s how it went!

hello from new york! i’m back on american soil and aching to share with you all a taste of my experiences. i’m going to try and take you on a logistical tour, sprinkled with a little ashley-flavor. of course, writings tend to take on a direction of their own so…we’ll travel the words together! for anyone reading this that was a part of the trip, PLEASE add your own comments and expand the perspective. i can only share one view…i love to see things through other people’s eyes. (and just to note, i haven’t read through all of the links…they’re just there for those that are interested in learning more of the places i mention.)

Day 1: the airplane took off and landed, everyone clapped. our first destination was the old city of jerusalem. a quick jolt into the land and culture, history and awe of the country that would host us for the next two weeks. my tired and disoriented body first experienced the western wall, cloaked in the darkness of the night. (fyi- the men and women are separated when visiting the wall.)

from my journal: “dovening, chanting, whispers from generations past sprinkling down around me. showering me….

the wall- the kotel- was definitely moving. feeling such an awareness of my ancestry. i was bent over, squatting, my hands and forehead against the wall. it felt like water. the light flickering through to me from the dovening women above me… rhythmically rocking, whispering prayers. it bathed over me. the females of my past sending their spirit like water, protecting me from above. i felt separate below–underneath my shield of confusion and separateness from the judaism…and yet so connected to the ancestry.”

i’ll go ahead and share that a major intention of this trip was for me to connect my spirituality with Judaism. as you can see from the experiences of my first day. there were some definite barriers with which i needed to deal.

Day 2: crawling through caves used during the Bar-Kokhba Revolt . tightness, claustrophobia, imagining living underground…at the threat of being captured. we entered through a hole in the ground and shimmied our way through the tunnels on all fours and at times sliding on our stomachs. tight spaces opened into huge caves. it was amazing how my body responded to being in such an environment. everything just tightened up and condensed in…like holding my breathe with my whole body, and breathing at the same time.

Day 3: back to the western wall, the kotel, and an incredible tour guided by ester through the tunnels underneath the old city, leading to the western wall. We then explored the old city of Jaffo, next to tel-aviv.

Day 4: we did our first community service work, painting the walls of an old building that is being fixed up and used for a school. then we went to yad-vashem, the holocaust museum. this museum is absolutely amazing. there are different structures, buildings, areas that communicate such a feeling and message in their very composition. i can’t really explain it…you’ll just have to visit. i returned with my friend sarah after the birthright trip was over and explored more of the incredible exhibits outside and around the museum. the most moving place to me was the children’s memorial. here are the words from the official website “Memorial candles, a customary Jewish tradition to remember the dead, are reflected infinitely in a dark and somber space, creating the impression of millions of stars shining in the firmament. The names of murdered children, their ages and countries of origin can be heard in the background.”

inside the museum we met a man (can someone remind me of his name?) who was a survivor of the holocaust. walking through he showed us pictures of his town, the barrack that he dwelled in while a captive at auschwitz, and shared about how he was getting ready to make his first trip back to his hometown and to Auschwitz since the holocaust… his pride in being able to walk in and walk out on his own accord…alive. he helped so much to put the words and pictures into some sort of a reality. i can still hear him inside my head repeating, “i was only 12 years old. i was still incomplete.”

from my journal: “for such trauma to sweep into your life and take hold of you–gripping on for the rest of your life…60 some years later, he still speaks of being incomplete. what strength must be in a people to be able to endure such a harsh, traumatic life/living…such a reality to be theirs….??????”

Day 5: jerusalem time elevator (kindof like a ride). shabbat dinner and a late night of amazing conversations… i’ll stop on that note. it must be a given that the entirety of this trip was fueled by nourishing conversations with so many amazing people.

to find words

painting by david friedman

hello from israel…

a moment to write has passed my way… a desire to share of the amazement in my life is strong… and yet i am intimidated by this blank screen. where to begin? what to share?questions anyone?!

my experience here has moved me in so many ways. the land, the people, judaism, the reality of life here, community, relationships, growth, learning, observing, listening, experiencing, feeling, wondering …LIVING.

i’ll save a day to day account until i can properly link you up to some information about the places i’ve visited…

since the “official” trip has ended the most prominent feeling sitting within me has been a sense of being filled with so much love. blessings are not to be taken for granted in this place. my appreciation and gratitude grows ever-stronger.

sleep is knocking at the door. i guess this is just a quick pop-in to say hello… stay tuned more to follow as the process unfolds!

there’s a discussion going on at the integral naked website, and below is a piece of what i wrote. i feel like sharing it over here too. it is intriguing to me to feel all of the concern and worry that people express about my travels to israel. i am so grateful for and comforted by all of the prayers and protection that loved ones are sharing with me, showering me with. i’ve felt so honored and special seeing the genuine concern and love in one’s eyes when they’ve said goodbye and wished me safe travels. it’s been different than any other “going away” experience that i have had in the past.

i’d like to share where i am right now, as these slightly stress-full moments of figuring out what to put into my suitcase pass through me. fear is not my present emotion. i am so excited and curious about the adventures that lie before me. there is such a deep unknown beckoning me… and i am thrilled to have the opportunity to dive in. i am not saying that there is NO uncertainty or nervousness present. any new experience that i embark upon seems to entice me with those nervous jitters. the tingling sensations stimulated by thoughts of this trip, however, are connected with the spiritual journey upon which i am embarking. the land is calling me, to be afraid is not. and so…with these thoughts, i found the words i posted about death to be interesting. while i was referring to more symbolic deaths than loss of human life, it all seems very relevant to my world right now!

…it is only when things die naturally that they push the creative edge to a new point. growth, change, awareness, creation…

and absolutely all “things” must die (thoughts, emotions, identities, things we love…but here i ponder… love? …it seems not to die. i share this thought non-experientially. i’ve never felt a death of love. i think that one’s life is one’s definition of love, so therefore in life, love cannot die…and obviously, that’s just one look at that FULL word–l o v e ). while there is much to be felt in death…it is equally a part of the cycle…and i love it. slyly present in my grief are the subtle threads of new life…in whatever design of manifestation.


oh-my, i’ve found a gem! join with me in learning about YES! Youth for Environmental Sanity … quite an inspiring group. here’s a bit of what they have to say…

“Youth stand at a threshold point in life, as they make choices that will send out vast ripples. Some young people believe growing up means abandoning their ideals. To us, it means learning how to live our ideals, every day, on the Earth. We believe that if the passion, creativity and commitment of youth can be liberated for the common good, we can transform our world. ”

and here are some words from Ocean Robbins, founder (at age 16…13 years ago) and co-president

“Sometimes older folks tell me: ‘I was idealistic and thought I could change the world once, too, but then I grew up.’ I’m trying to help us change our definition of growing up, so that it ceases to mean giving up on our ideals, and comes to mean learning how to live our dreams, every day, on the Earth. I want to awaken the passion and creativity of youth, combine it with the wisdom, experience and insight of elders, and transform our world.”

What you appreciate – appreciates.”

– LynneTwist


the birds are chirping outside my window as the sun inches its way into my life! i just sent an email descriptive of today to my dear friend and mentor, chris weaver. thanks chris, for the inspiration you share in so many ways.

here’s to this day!!

academic responsibilities are trickling down my back, their weight becoming oh-so light! immune defenses are working oh-so hard, putting me to sleep at 8:30 last night. anticipation jitters are starting to sparkle on the horizon. procrastination of cleaning and organizing this life here prior to departure, very real! great-full-ness, alive and thriving…

here’s a taste of what my trip to israel might entail.

Giving Thanks

the clouds are packed tight in the sky…inviting a slow morning… for the day to gently unfold.

Last night i heard someone speak about Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning.The point being made was that everyone has suffering in their life. The experience is universal to us all. The power comes from what one gets out of the suffering, what one turns the suffering into. There are lessons and aids for growth and development constantly raining down around us… especially on a gently unfolding morning!

so today i celebrate the act of giving thanks. it is in this embrace with gratitude that love thrives and shines. i myself am in awe of life, and extremely thankful for the blessings that fill my moments (both the painful and the pretty). at times i find myself over-joyed with appreciation for these blessings … the abundance of joy reminds me to share the experience. this to me is giving thanks… recognizing the many blessings in my life at any moment, and putting awareness and intention into their existence. with another person, this often comes out as a complement… a deep appreciation for one’s being…my thankfulness for the spirit one shares with life. with life, my gratitude pours out as my heart opens and joins with life beyond me….

while i try to honor such moments as they arise, on this day of thanksgiving, i give thanks for the act of giving thanks!!