©2019 Haya baker

My Thrive Story       

A memoir of light, loss and Divine Heart Nurture

Inspiration for your own sacred journey 

Your Creator awaits your awakening to love...

You are on a quest to reveal Divine light from within.

Quests are never simple.

Even in the dark, you are free to discover that you are never really alone.

May my story inspire you to thrive from your heart along your sacred life journey. 

"... The fundamental intention of creation is to transform darkness into light."

    ~ Rabbi DovBer (1773-1827) "The Gate of Unity"

I was born three months premature. I must have been in a rush to meet my special parents. Instead, I had a long period of extreme solitude in the incubator. Back in 1961, it was thought that touching premature babies could infect them; therefore, even my own mother was not allowed to hold me. When I was released after a long, lonely stay in the neonatal ward, the doctors gave my mother clear instructions not to allow me to cry. I was too tiny and weak to cry, they said. I proved them wrong.  Nevertheless, my caring, overprotective mother was distraught whenever I cried. 

My father was a widower, father and proud grandfather when he married my mother.

My mother said it was worth waiting until her early forties to find her soul mate. My parents shared a uniquely joyful relationship and deep dedication to family, community, Israel, and to all of humanity.

 

Mom had a twinkle in her eye for Dad, and Dad had a twinkle in his eye for Mom. My two married siblings, from my dad, and I were the apples of both their eyes. My bright, caring mom was instantly embraced by my older siblings. She became a beloved grandmother to my nephews and nieces, most of whom were older than me.

Since 1932, my father was a beloved orthodox community rabbi in Ohio. A man of values, as soon as he could afford to volunteer, he refused to accept payment for his Torah teaching and community leadership. He built quality houses and apartments for a living. As our congregation outgrew its modest house of worship, Dad built his flock a beautiful synagogue.

 

My strong dad, the middle-aged rabbi, was able and honored to do all heavy manual labor, shoulder to shoulder with his esteemed employees. They loved him dearly as he cherished them and everyone he encountered as an equal.

It was fun growing up during my  early childhood. My parents were seasoned wellsprings of love, patience, wisdom and humor. They were old enough to be my grandparents yet they were youthful, active and full of life. More often than not, we could be found singing and laughing together, especially during long walks and during long car rides to visit family. 

My parents had much life experience in common. They both escaped early 20th century antisemitism in Eastern Europe. They were each firstborn and they each lost many of their loved ones in the Holocaust or pogroms. They each tragically lost their fathers at a tender young age and they both matured quickly to care for their widowed mothers and siblings.

 

My parents were living examples of exceptionally healthy and endearing relationships with all,  especially with their in-laws. They knew how to spring back from loss and rebuild from scratch, while tenderly caring for loved ones. In doing so, they acquired faith and resilience through life's unfolding. 

Without many words, they instilled that faith in me. I would need to draw upon it before long.

When I was 3 years old, I was still so very small for my age, that my little legs could not reach over some stairs. 

 

I could barely reach the pedals on my tiny tricycle.  Nevertheless, I soon got the hang of it. 

 

My proud father sang to me: "Round and around she goes, where she stops, nobody knows...". 

 

To this day, I can still hear Dad's voice in my heart. It is my cue for faith and confidence in the face of uncertainty.

With that faith, I am a bold trailblazer.

With G-d, I am never alone, as I venture into the great unknown ... 

My earliest memories were of sitting on my father's lap in as he chanted, learning Torah.

Dad taught me Torah in a unique way. He would never impose anything on me. He would gladly teach me anything I wanted to learn, provided that I initiated the process. To learn Torah, I had to ask questions. I quickly became an initiator.

I have often wondered if G-d has the same educational policy. Our Talmudic sages taught, "On the path upon which a man wants to walk, he is lead." It appears to me that we are called, through life's unfolding, to initiate Divine connection and to find meaning in every moment.

My father's sweet voice leading our congregation in prayer was the soundtrack of my early childhood. My visual theme was the swaying congregation, as I viewed it from beneath my father's talit, his long woolen striped prayer shawl. The synagogue was my home, the place I belonged, among my people deep in prayer. 

In early June of 1967, my smiley parents appeared unusually worried. They sat glued to the radio in the kitchen and told me in a hushed tone, "We are praying for Israel." Within days, the somber spirit gave way to great gratitude and singing in our kitchen.

 

Only later did I understand that our humble homeland community was miraculously saved, yet again, from the most serious military threat on all fronts. I did not know just how profound a miracle this was until years later, yet I sensed that my family and my people had just been comforted after generations of suffering.

The following summer, my parents and I came to Israel to give thanks to G-d.  

My parents smiled at each other and at me. I saw tears of gratitude in their eyes as we caught sight of the newly liberated Western Wall, where people of all faiths could now pray in safety.

A breeze blew across the ancient stone plaza. I was filled with a sense of peace and awe. We were not alone in this experience which we shared with the many people swaying in prayer. 

Even as a young child of 7, I sensed we were witnessing an historic moment, which I prayed to be part of. Not just here in Jerusalem, but all over the world, something was changing.


In retrospect, I think that I was sensing a shift I could not fully understand with my young mind.

Was it a cosmic prayer for true peace? 

Were we witnessing the first stage of the Redemption we had been praying for, three times daily, for thousands of years?

Were these recent miracles pointing to the return of revealed Divine presence to Zion and to our plane of existence?

Would this soon be a House of Prayer for All Nations?

I looked up and noticed a flock of white doves swooping from one side of the wall to the other and then hovering, landing gently in crevices between the huge ancient stones.

A week or two later, I was lying on a couch. My head felt as though it would explode. The searing pain was unbearable. My parents sat at my side, sponging my forehead and singing to me. My fever would not respond to medication. I remember shivering, crying and calling for my mom as she ran to draw a bath while my dad rushed to get ice from neighbors. They reassured me that they would be right back. I thought I was dying. Moments later, while they were still out of the room, my pain suddenly stopped. 

I was amazed by my sense of relief, as I found myself floating effortlessly...

Continuous currents of peace supported me, uplifting me...

I was soon spiraling upward into a warm, welcoming light of unconditional love.

Serenity swept through me...

I felt welcomed and comforted by the Source of light and love. Without words, I was enveloped in hope for all existence. I was filled with song. As I soared like a dove into the light, I sang tones of infinite gratitude for The One who gives life to all.  

I yearned to share this sense of hope with everyone, especially with my worried parents. 

I suddenly found myself hovering gently near the ceiling of a sparse, white Israeli bathroom. Below, my parents were huddled over a little blond girl. Hey, that would be me! I could swoop down to let them know I was ok. I would tell them of the light and love which shone down through them and through all that is!

Within a moment I was back in my body, shivering uncontrollably. My parents quickly wrapped me in warm towels and in a tearful embrace. 

My mother said that I had fainted. She described how, when I awoke, I spoke repeatedly of a light. I was not sure she knew what light I was talking about.

I knew I was changed...

G-d became my very best friend and confidant. The trees, birds, bees and even the big wild dogs were my pals.

I would ride my banana bike in circles around the boulevard in Columbus, Ohio, singing songs to G-d.

I found Heaven in the here and now of every given moment. My heart filled with gratitude for every breath, for life itself...

Occasionally I would relax, lying on the ground, gazing toward the sky as I relived a familiar hovering sensation... 

Every breeze and sunbeam spoke to me of Divine unconditional love, which I longed to share with all. 

I was grateful to bring smiles to the faces of people around me. I devoted myself to lifting the spirits of my parents and of my ailing, sweet maternal grandmother, who lived with us. Although it wasn't easy, my recent experience helped me stay strong for my family, at least for now.  

What early experiences taught you to thrive amidst challenge?

What early experiences challenged you to thrive?

I had a charmed early childhood; however, by the time I was nine years old, this was clearly changing...

 

My once brilliant, cherishing mother was long becoming more and more confused.

Her wise, humorous presence was fading. Her speech would go in and out of coherence. 

 

I was later told that the finest physicians were doing their best to medicate my mom's mysterious malaise. However, her ever-changing cocktail of pharmaceuticals left my mother not only confused, but dangerously agitated. She would often pull the car to the side of the road on our way back from my school. She would sit there and sob uncontrollably: "This medicine is making me so sick, I can't even drive!" 

Suddenly, my gentle, affectionate mother was so agitated that she could not listen to me. She wouldn't even allow me to cry as my cries propelled her into a helpless, raging panic.  For fear of hurting me, she would avoid me and disappear for hours at a time.

 

This was not the mother I knew. It was a very frightening time for all of us. I spent a lot of time alone, trying to stay out of harms way. My memories of the light often faded into a deep darkness inside me.

When I was nearly eleven, we moved to Israel permanently. We were glad to finally be settled in our ancient homeland. Dad was still searching for a cure for my mother's ailment.

 

Meanwhile, Mom was gradually taken off all her agitation-causing medications, thank G-d,  and her dreaded, volatile episodes lifted, .

Although her mysterious confusion continued, the sweet, cherishing mother of my early childhood was finally back with us. We celebrated each other's company! We would hug every few minutes whenever we were together, for many blessed years to come.  

Less than a year after our arrival, we endured the frightening Yom Kippur war which was forced upon us on the holiest day of our calendar, when most of the people in Israel are fasting and praying in repentance. As air raid sirens blared, my dad, the elderly rabbi, ran from synagogue in his white kittle and prayer shawl to join the urgent defense effort.

As my father helped shuttle young men to the northern and southern borders, my confused mother and I waited for dad at the home front. To the blare of air raid sirens, we ran in and out of bomb shelters day and night. When my dad returned with our tiny car, it had blue paint on the headlights. All headlights in Israel had to be dimmed, all streetlights were kept off and all shutters were drawn in homes to prevent Egyptian pilots from identifying our towns and villages.   

In the dark, I hugged my parents and prayed for inner and outer peace. 

By the time I was twelve years old, my mother had begun a more rapid mental descent. This was  later diagnosed as early onset Alzheimer's Disease. My dad and I were trying our best to support her through her terrifying decline. My previously strong, resilient dad began to lose hope and gradually withdrew emotionally. Both his pain and his loving presence were now hidden behind layers of deep denial. I found myself alone in my own fear and helplessness. 

When I was thirteen, my grief-stricken dad was hospitalized with a severe heart attack that developed into deep vein thrombosis. I gently led my mother on and off buses daily as we commuted for hours to the nearest hospital. For the first weeks, doctors were not sure he would make it. I had to be strong for both Mom and Dad.

We lived in a new neighborhood in the small coastal town of Netanya. During the early seventies in Israel, phone lines typically took years to be installed. It was considered normal to wait in line, with neighbors, to use pay phones on major street corners.

 

Because of my dad's precarious condition, the phone company kindly agreed to run our neighborhood's first home phone line through our apartment.

 

We got to know a lot of nice people, as we invited everyone from blocks around to come make free phone calls from our humble home.  

Can you recall a time when facing a challenge helped you reveal blessings in your life?

Thank G-d, Dad recovered and courageously strengthened himself to care for my mother and  me. 

I can imagine that the same courage served him as an eleven-year-old, when he lost his dad to tragedy. By the age of twelve, he decided to leave home in search of work and training to help support his widowed mom and younger brothers. As a boy, my young dad was a Torah prodigy. He was accepted to study in the greatest yeshivas (talmudic academies) in Poland and Lithuania. He studied diligently by day and worked well into the nights, doing any odd jobs he could get as young boy, from shoemaking and cleaning to lifting heavy loads off wagons. He managed to cover his tuition, room and board and most of all, he was glad to send money home to his mother and younger brothers.

Dad's keen understanding, and his ability to explain complex concepts, was quickly noticed and he was soon hired as a talmudic tutor by many adult students. Before long, although he was barely an adolescent, he helped open new branches of the great talmudic academies.  Dad was a trailblazer even as a child.

When Dad returned from the hospital, he showed a remarkable determination to thrive. He became active and strong again, thank G-d, in spite of his age and chronic condition.

 

Bandaging his thrombosed leg, he set out on daily walks. He was soon walking ten kilometers per day, rain or shine, for his health. My mother would accompany him on his brisk walks. This was a special time for both of them.

 

My dad seemed to have decided to make the best of the time he still had with my mom, and to engage together in helping others. 

The first thing they did together was to help fundraise for a new, much needed regional hospital. Fundraising for Laniado Hospital lifted my dad's spirits tremendously. I think he found meaning in his illness through contributing towards life-saving, local medical care. 

My dad was so upbeat that he was soon hosting many immigrants who had just moved to Israel, just like our family. It was heartwarming to see the ingathering of our exiles from all over the world, around our Sabbath table. We regularly had Shabbat guests who had recently immigrated to Israel from the United States, Canada, France, Belgium, Switzerland, the U.K., Australia, Iran, Ethiopia and more. What a special time that was.

Who in your life has inspired you most to find courage through hard times? 

My dad would would keep in touch with our guests, hear their needs as new immigrants and try to help them find jobs, housing and schools for their children. He even helped a few families start businesses. I remember the time he helped the family of an immigrant American Navy veteran start an electronics factory. He and my dad had fun assembling stereo record players. I helped a bit too. 

My mother slowly forgot how to cook, so my father took on most of the cooking for our family and guests. I did cleanup. We were a team.  Although she had trouble following a train of thought, Mom appreciated meeting our guests.

Throughout her life, Mom enthusiastically celebrated the uniqueness of every person she encountered. I would regularly accompany my sweet mother to the grocery store around the corner. She no longer remembered the way there or how to make a purchase. Her purpose in our daily outing was to bless the people we met at the store and along the way. She would greet every person with an eager smile and a heartfelt "Shalom".

 

She told me that the blessing of "Shalom" was a gift she could still share with the world. She delighted in sharing a kind word with a complete stranger to brighten his or her day.

What qualities may never be taken from a human being?

Eventually my mother could no longer converse. I found our relationship from within our deep heart connection. In a microcosmic way, it was like my connection with the loving presence of G-d, sometimes showing up in a still, silent knowing. 

 

Think about a time in your life when you experienced still, silent heart presence.

Long after my father passed away, while I was raising the first few of my seven blessed children, I continued to seek a way to bring some relief to Mom.

 

By then, Mom was completely unresponsive to voices or faces. She made no perceptible voluntary movements. Although she was heavily medicated, she suffered chronic systemic infections and uncontrolled epileptic seizures, yet her strong heart was still beating. She appeared to be in great discomfort.

 

Contrary to all conventional wisdom, I stubbornly refused to give up on Mom when well-meaning doctors assured me that nothing more could be done. I explored other options.

After trial and error with approaches that were not suitable, I needed a better way to help my mother. I prayed for Divine assistence to help Mom and many others . 

Do you recall a time when you were unwilling to give up?

What inspired you to keep going?

My fears had the best of me as I gazed at mother's blank eyes and at her tightly clenched jaw. Her breathing was rapid, irregular and tense. 

How could I bring peace to Mom if I was overwhelmed by her dreadful condition?

Fighting my fears proved counterproductive, yet denying them was  ineffective. 

When resisting reality fails, what options are left?

I spent many blessed hours at my mother's bedside. There was nothing I could do but to be honest with myself and with G-d, by deeply acknowledging my fears. I started letting go of resisting my emotions. I gave myself permission to cry. I found myself fully honoring all the pain stuck in me, in my long denied fear of the inevitable.

 

I sensed that I was birthing not only my own emotional freedom, but also the healing approach that would serve to help others. 

 

I was making room for all my inner emotional parts. I was making room for my inner children from various times in my life to finally be, breathe through the emotions stuck in their bodies and cry, as I held them in love.

 

I remembered my inner child, who was forbidden to cry in front of my over-medicated mom. I recalled my inner premature infant, fragile and alone in the incubator for months, and not encouraged to cry even after arriving home. I cried out my pain while holding myself in the loving embrace of G-d ... I held and heard all my younger, vulnerable parts as G-d supported me compassionately, encouragingly... I sensed the loving presence of my mother, as I remembered her from my early childhood.


As I let these younger parts of me be and breathe and be heard, just as they were, with all their fears and pain. I was reaching into the past to free them, so that they could become fully present in their bodies where they were never validated for their experience. All this occurred within my mature self. I allowed all of us to be and become more of who we are, within the embrace of our Creator. Then, I allowed them to transform within me, to grow up inside of me, with all the resources we needed to thrive and to help others thrive.

My fully embraced emotions transformed within me. 

My fear and pain opened up to reveal the kernel of love at their core. My heart opened to new wondrous possibilities.

I then had a flashback to my experience as a child soaring peacefully into the light. I returned to  assure my parents that I was ok and that they were ok. 

 

We were more than ok. We were love.

 

Divine love lives within you, awaiting your soul awakening...

Divine love is where healing happens... 

At our core we are each in love with G-d and with all that is...

 

During our time together, I would often detect a new kernel of stress emerging to be honored and embraced. It would show up as a constriction in her breath... As I held her stress in deep acceptance and compassion, she appeared to go deeper and deeper into the experience, until she spontaneously released a cleansing breath...Relieved, Mom's breathing would then slow to a calm, gentle pace, along with mine. 

A sacred peace came over us as we shared loving presence with G-d and with all that is... 

 

A warm flood of healing spread throughout both are our bodies.

 

Mom's tightly clenched jaw would relax... she appeared more serene... something was shifting deeply, during these moments of Divine Heart Nurture...

 

Within months of beginning our healing journey together, my mother's infections and seizures abated, thank G-d. She was successfully taken off all medication including antibiotics and Dilantin.

Within a couple of years of consistent healing work together, Mom began to react to my presence with a turn of her head and clear bright eye contact. Mom started to answer my yes and no questions intelligently with a knowing nod of her head. She recognized me.

 

My dear mother was back with us, however temporarily. Mom taught me so much about courage and love through her living example. She taught me just as much through her still, silent presence. We really never stop living and loving. We simply switch dimensions.

 

Mom passed away peacefully, at the ripe old age of 81. She lives on in my heart and boundlessly beyond.

What shifts in you, as you hold your emotions in compassion and acceptance?

My dear family has always been my greatest love and joy.

My second greatest joy has been supporting precious individuals and families in reconnecting to themselves and to each other.

Decades ago, while caring for my children and my mother, friends and neighbors asked me for support. I was glad to accompany them through their own growth and healing.

As I was developing Divine Heart Nurture, more and more requests for coaching healing came through both locally and from overseas.

As my family has always been my very first priority, while I was raising my blessed children, I rarely advertised my services. Amazingly, whenever I had free time and I was grateful and eager to share, the phone would just start to ring. 

 

I thank G-d for connecting me daily with those who may benefit from my offering.

I'm absolutely thrilled when they share their unique light to inspire others.

"Haya, I have a spring in my step. I walk around with so much love in my heart that I'm told my smile is contagious!

 

Life's many challenges, don't get me down for long anymore. As I practice Divine Heart Nurture with our Creator several times a day...within moments, my stress is transformed. My stress becomes a vehicle to reconnect to myself, to our Source and with my family and friends. I reconnect with honor. I honor others as I honor myself.

 

You are right when you say that 'Life becomes more precious as you keep plugging into the nurture of God!' Gratefully, C.R. , British Columbia"

"Dear Haya,

My life is changing dramatically now, seriously – every day and in every way.

It’s almost as if the veil has lifted and I am more connected to Infinite Wisdom. I am feeling much more expanded, in the 'flow' and truly am comprehending that All Is One…..I feel more peaceful.

Thank you... My transformation is miraculous and I am deeply grateful.

Blessings be,

J"

You Are a Luminary!

 

Don't let your light dim for even a day.

Reconnect to your heart daily, and to your Creator within.

Be Divinely nurtured through the core of your every stress.

Breathe through every blessed emotion in your body.

Be present with what is, until your cup runneth over with love. 

Come share your light in the infinite evolving symphony of life!  

Are you are ready to shine your light through Divine Heart Nurture?

Feel free to contact me at haya@hayabaker.com

"Haya has an unusual gentleness and compassion that creates an immediate sense of empowerment and ease, combined with an unyielding faith in the person's ability to access his or her innermost resources.

Haya does not stay on the surface, but touches the deep places ... while fully being there with you...you find your core, your source of love of self, that allows you to love others ... I know. I have experienced it ~ Batya."

Batya Yaniger PsyD. Co-facilitator of logotherapy training in Israel

בס"ד

Divine Heart Nurture