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God and questions

I’m going to attempt to put into writing some thoughts on the divine, my personal beliefs, and this culture’s definitions of who/what God is. For months now, partially inspired by the very religious Peruvian culture, I’ve been trying to understand and explain my beliefs, but being able to capture it in a few words would be impossible. To many, “I believe in God” is all they need to say in order to portray what they believe in, but for me, that isn’t enough. To say, “I believe in God,” at least in the United States, has so many connotations attached to it, that I don’t agree with, and therefore have spent years avoiding the phrase.

 

Emerson referred to it as the “Oversoul” and one of my favorite religion professors called it the “Big Love,” and me, well I’ve never known. Although I do feel that religion and spirituality is a very personal thing, something that does not need to be defined for others to better understand, I’ve realized that my need to define it is not for anyone but myself. Who or what do I direct my prayers to? Can I just say “you” or “that thing” or “curtain”? Of course I could, that which I connect with does not need a proper name, and surely doesn’t care what I call it, but I do. I think I would feel a greater sense of peace if I could just figure out what to call it!

 

Throughout my life I have experienced a number of moments where I felt a true presence of or connection with the divine. Small things here and there, like hiking through nature and finding myself in awe of the beauty around me and with a sense of clarity I don’t often feel; or while trekking around Machu Picchu with my family and visualizing myself being reborn as instructed to walk through the Condor Temple and leave an offering of coca leaves; even the simple act of singing a song, feeling the vibrations in my chest and the magic of the music and significance of the lyrics that bring tears to my eyes. We all experience the divine in some way or another, however large or small, obvious or conspicuous. A dear friend of mine has an attachment to lucky pennies she finds on the ground, and she feels it as the presence of what she calls the Holy Spirit (as part of the Holy Trinity) in her life, often at times she really needs it.

 

In this country, the United States of America, there are many preconceived notions attached to the phrase “I believe in God.” I could write a whole other essay about the topic of stereotypes, extremists, and everything related to the image an American Christian might portray, but this essay is about something else. It starts in the Bible where we are constantly fed the idea of God being a Man. This is not a feminist rant of how God should be portrayed as a women, it is a rant of how I detest the personification, regardless of gender, of this divine spirit I connect with. I know the Bible, Genesis 1:27, states that God created man in His own image, but shouldn’t this, like many things in the Bible, not be taken so literally? Couldn’t this refer less to physical likeness, but spiritual, even moral likeness?

 

In Peru I have spent hours discussing with various people the idea of God. When my boyfriend explained to me what he believed in, without saying the word “god,” it sounded very similar to my explanation. Separating the word “god” gives one the chance to vaguely define this, and often the notion of a big, bearded man in the sky is far from what people say. To me, this divinity is some spirit, some force, all around us, within us, within all living organisms, that, more or less, is, as Emerson put it, the “Oversoul” of this world. I tell that to my friends in Peru, young and old, and they all say the same thing: Rosie, that is God.

 

So here is my question: is it? Why not? One does not need to prescribe to a religion or claim a specific faith to say they believe in God. God does not need to fit any image. For me, I see it not as a person (let alone a man), but as everything around me all the time. As the breeze that makes the trees dance, as the laughter that fills your body with joy, as the stars and the moon in a clear night sky, as the miracle of cheating life and giving birth, and as the songs that our hearts sing every time we feel it. Maybe I’m not ready to say “I believe in God,” but I am ready to question why I wouldn’t.  

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Finally it’s Fall!

There is no ending to my list of things I love about this time of year. Fall is absolutely my favorite season, filling me with
great feelings and giving us lots of things to do.

Aside from school, I’ve been enjoying the weather whenever I can. Last weekend Kayla and I went for a short hike up Mount Philo, then sat at the top wishing we had thought to pack a picnic while enjoying the sun on our skin and the beautiful view in front of us.

 

 

The weekend before we all drove out to Shelburn Orchards to go apple picking! Good friends, all we can eat apples, and incredible weather is such a blessing.

In addition to apples, I’ve got a crazy craving for pumpkin anything. I’ve been searching for recipes for pumpkin pie, pumpkin latte’s, pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, etc.

Anyway, when I’m not daydreaming about delicious fall themed food, doing homework, and enjoying the weather, I’m lounging about in my apartment binge watching the best tv show ever: Parks and Recreation.

 

 

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Back in Burlington

It’s been a while since I posted anything, and a lot has happened, but the biggest thing is like my wonderful time in Peru came to and end, and after a very tearful and prolonged adios, I flew back to the USA and made it back to my beloved island for the first time in too long. After 8 months abroad it was great to see my friends, my family, my cats, and my home, but it was short lived, and soon enough it was time to start school. Dad and I drove up to Burlington where I’ve started classes, and have been having a great time.

I haven’t been here in 2 years, and although much has changed, sometimes I feel as though I never left. One of my greatest blessings are my friendships, and it has been wonderful to come back and feel welcome into the lives of my friends as if no time has passed.

Classes are tough, but no one ever said learning was easy. It’s finally getting cooler, and fall is right around the corner. One of my favorite things in the world is a New England autumn, and Burlington is a gorgeous place to experience it. I’m planning a trip back home soon to spend some quality time with the family, take plenty of nature walks, and enjoy the changing of the seasons.

I’m missing Isaac terribly, so I’m lucky to have so many distractions to keep my busy. I will be seeing him at the end of this year, which isn’t too far away, so knowing that helps me get through the lonely days.

Even though I miss Lima, I am so happy to finally have a place I know I’ll stay for a while and an opportunity to let myself nest. I’ve often claimed to be a free spirit, but at the core, I’m a nester, and love having a place to settle down and call home. After all this time hoping around from different schools, homes, and countries, I can say that Burlington is where my life is for now, and regardless of my next moves, I’m very content to light a candle, play some music, and veg out in my little apartment knowing I don’t need to pack up anytime soon.

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Iquitos y La Selva

Thought it was time for a new post, but I don’t have the time to post pictures tonight.

Last week Isaac surprised me with a ticket the the jungle leaving the NEXT MORNING! Along with Isaac’s cousin Omar and his girlfriend, the four of us hopped on a plane very early in the morning only to find ourselves landing smoothly into the airport of a very hot Iquitos.

The heat we felt in the morning was nothing compared to what we would face later that day. But we excitedly (and a little tiredly) found a tour group and signed up to leave for a lodge in the jungle within the hour. Wimba tours took us in a two hour boat ride down the Rio Nanay and the Rio Amazonas to our lodge in the little pueblo of San Juan de Washalado.

After a delicious fish lunch (lots of fresh fish at every meal) we met our guide Dayvis and walked for a short hike to a nearby animal sanctuary of sorts. All the animals were free to come and go as they please, but with it being much harder to find food on their own, most of them choose to stay. We played with a variety of monkeys, wrapped an anaconda around our necks and arms met a 200 year old prehistoric turtle, let toucans and parrots rest on our shoulders, and searched for tiny frogs hopping beneath our feet.
Isaac and I, being animal lovers, had a great time. And it was all topped off with hysterical laughter as an alcoholic monkey stole our free samples of the locally made Siete Raises (A typical drink in the jungle made from Rum and 7 fermented herbs that helps with a variety of ailments, including the common cold!).

That evening we relaxed over some semi-cold beers and enjoyed (*glare*) the mosquitos until the generator went off at 9, and we stumbled through the dark to our rooms.

The next morning we rose early, before breakfast, to see some pink dolphins- but the weather was not on our side, so instead we just went on a short hike. We weren’t in deep enough jungle to even consider finding any jungle cats or more dangerous/exciting animals, but we saw some gorgeous butterflies, very cool plants and trees, and even got to meet and hold a baby sloth named Rosita!

After breakfast (organic, fresh, and local eggs and milk with bread and jam) we went with all the other guests of the lodge in a boat ride down to visit a local tribe called the Yaguas. With them we got greeted with face paint, learned to shoot darts out of a blow pipe (I was one of the only ones to hit the target), did some traditional dancing, and then, of course, got to shop a little for some locally made crafts.

Lunch passed, and then the highlight of my trip (after a nap in the hammock) was a SWIM IN THE AMAZON! They took us to a “safe” more “beach like” part, about 20 minutes from the lodge where the only things that would bite us were little fishies (no piranhas or alligators!). It was soooo beautiful, the perfect temperature, and just delicious to be swimming- especially after battling the heat of the jungle.

We saw an arcoiris (rainbow) on the way back and it landed right on our hotel- a nice touch 😉

On our third and last day at the lodge we got up in time for breakfast, then had to pack up our stuff before our last excursion: Piranha Fishing! We used raw meat to fish from our wooden fishing polls. I was the first to catch anything- a sardine, and soon after a piranha (and the biggest catch of the day!). Then I got kind of cocky (“I grew up on an island, fishing just comes naturally….”) so my luck turned. But I still had fun trying, enjoying the view, and watching everyone else struggle to be patient and their excitement as they would catch something.

As always, this good thing had to come to an end, and we returned to Iquitos and said bye to the lodge, the jungle, and our wonderful guide. We checked into a hotel, and went straight out into the city to check things out. A very small Plaza de Armas, shambos (a popsicle/ ice cream hybrid of the local fruit Aguaje), emolientes near the Boulevard, beautiful overlook of the Rio Amazona, and then some cold beers over a chat with an expat from Alaska we met in a cool bar. Eventually we went to eat, and while I was lame and went with pasta, I really regretted it once I tried Isaac’s DELICIOUS tacacho con brochetas de chorizo y cacino. Mmmm, makes me hungry just thinking about it.

Later that night the 4 of us met up again to go out to a club- Noa. After some beer and dancing, we headed back to the hotel. The next day was HOT and LONG. Not much to do in Iquitos, and we were tired. So after a delicious breakfast including the best Surtidos and Jugo Especial we had ever tired, Isaac and I attempted to walk around and entertain ourselves, but the thought of our bed in the air conditioned hotel room was too tempting. We hurried back, paid for an extra 1/2 day, then crashed.

Late afternoon we woke up, walked around a little more, bought some souvenirs, got juanes and patacones for dinner, and then headed to the airport. That night, while in the air, our Pervian Airlines plane had a turbine explode and/or engine failure. Thankfully we made it back to the ground safely.

After a long night and then morning of fighting with the airline, we eventually made it back to Lima and into the very worried and loving arms of Isaac’s mom and aunt who were waiting for us at the airport. Overall, aside the near death experience, it was a wonderful trip that I’ll never forget.

And on that night- we’re headed off the the Dominican Republic for a week of sun and sand and relaxation (and lots and lots of rum) in Punta Cana!

Wish us luck! Blessings 🙂

 

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Bubbie

So I’ve finally starting reading my Bubbie’s book “Walking the Precipice” and it’s bringing up a lot for me.

Not only is it motivating to a young, impressionable semi activist/feminist such as much; rich in historical, cultural, and religious information; and inspiring to learn and do more; but being Barbra’s granddaughter, it’s really making me miss her.

My boyfriend asked me to tell him about inspirational people in my life, and while many people in my family, the women especially, came to my mind, today I would like to dedicate my post to the very inspirational Barbra Bick, my Bubbie.

Summing up this woman in a few words is difficult because she encompassed so much. She pushed my limits, was tough, made me doubt myself, made me want to try harder, made me want to be more, and often made me cry. One might say that these qualities are not very kind, but as intimidating as my Bubbie could be, she also could be warm. She could make me laugh, tell me some great stories, make me proud of myself, encourage me, tell me I could do whatever I wanted, that I can make a difference, that I was special.

Not only did she pass to me the Jewish heritage for which I am so proud, but she also played a role in helping me to become the critical thinking, stubborn, passionate person I am today.

While reading this book I am learning a lot of things from an academic perspective, but I’m also learning a lot of things about my Bubbie that I never knew. There are so many things I would like to ask her about, know more, hear more stories. How did she do it? What was it like? And there are so many things I would like to talk to her about. Religion, humanity, current events, history, and all the things I’m constantly thinking about. I know she always loved me, but I wish she was here today to really know me, to be proud of me.

I will always be proud to be the granddaughter of this special woman. Just like all the women in my life, I hope to do some amazing things and inspire my children and grandchildren.

 

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Un Día Bonita!

What a nice Saturday I had today. We woke up kind of early because Isaac’s mom Doris made us fried plantains and my favorite scrambled eggs and chorizo. After stuffing ourselves, we climbed back into bed and watched a great movie called Harrison’s Flowers- a true story about an American journalist covering the civil war in Yugoslavia in 1991 who goes missing, and the story of his wife who goes looking for him.

Isaac had to go to school for graduation rehearsal, so I had a little time to clean and do some reading before I went and met him for lunch. But not before stopping in Parke Olivar to catch a free blue’s concert in the park.

We got our usual at the Arab restaurant in Parke Kennedy: Falafels! And a cold Inka Cola to wash it all down. After some people watching we got one of my favorite Peruvian deserts: Picarones.

 

After lunch, on such a beautiful day, we found ourselves in our new favorite park a Lima. Somewhere in San Isidro right on the cliff, is this great park/playground/place that has an amazing lookout over the ocean, people everywhere walking dogs or rollerblading or just hanging out in the grass. We stayed until the sunset  – I wish I had a picture, but it was too beautiful to look away for even a second. It always amazes me when I can literally watch it go down.

Give me and sunset over the ocean and something sweet to eat and I will tell you it’s a great day!

We ended up back at home for some cuddles and more movies. Love spending my days outside doing things, even if I’m just people watching. Fresh air always feels good to me, and if I can’t escape into the natural world so easily in this big city, and least I’m located right on the rocky coast, so ocean is always by my side.

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Feliz Dia Papa!

I hate to be away from the family on special day’s like this one. After an hour long wait, the rest of the Bick’s made it into Art Cliff for some father’s day brunch, and all I get is a phone call. Here in Lima I’ve been eating and celebrating with the family since 10 am! Spending so much time with my Peruvian family makes me miss spending time with my real family.

Looking forward to getting home and spending much time with them as possible!

So Happy Father’s Day dad! It’s been so nice getting older and getting closer to you, and I can only hope that we’ll keep getting closer. Love you so much!

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