Archive for April, 2010
It’s counterintuitive, but sometimes in order to persevere, we need to stop. That’s part of the message of Discernment within Endurance….it’s the old country song of ‘know when to hold ‘em; know when to fold ‘em’! I often think of the work I do with families as parents and grandparents age and become increasingly frail and dependent. Thoughtful balancing between considerations of safety and autonomy is necessary. Sometimes, as when an adult child decides to take the car keys away from their parent who is no longer competent to safely drive, the decision to stop (driving, in this case) contributes directly to the opportunity to continue (living safely, in this case).
May we all discern carefully today in order to choose those paths which lead to continuity in the most positive ways.
Lovingkindness within Endurance…translation: how love keeps us going! I often think of Chesed as the endless source of universal loving energy–certainly that’s what has sustained me during some tough times when my ‘own’ energy seemed to have been tapped out. I spent some time recently with someone who had recently turned 100 years old—and was full of energy (and then took a nap)! The nap was, I think, part of the self-care that has enabled him to keep going. Chesed she b’Netzach in action!
Indwelling Presence within Harmony….In English, the word “Presence” can be taken so many ways–as in ‘aware’=present; as in ‘attending’ = not absent; as in ‘gift’= a present; as in ‘an additional, noticeable energy’= a presence. I was thinking, as this day of the Omer count began, of looking at the word differently: as ‘pre’ ’sense’…before sensation. G!d energy surrounds us, pervades us, dwells within us. It existed, as we are reminded in Adon Olam, before there was a before. The Divine precedes sensation…and then infuses it. It’s everywhere–Ein Od Milvado…there is nothing except this Presence. Today we pause, at the conclusion of the third week of counting the Omer, to recognize how Divinity contributes to our balance, simultaneously supporting and enlivening the beauty of our lives.
Two day silent retreat….so the blog was also silent. Many wonderful practices learned and practiced with the other 35 people at the retreat led by Rabbi Jeff Roth. Netzach and Hod were perfect days for retreat…to keep going and going and going, keep coming back to awareness as a way toward balance…followed by increasing awareness of the intricate and amazing interconnectedness among all things, keeping the dynamic equilibrium of the cosmos going….whew! Now, tonight, we move into Yesod…the foundation structure which ’sits’ right under Tiferet…a straight line of connection. Reminding me that heart-ful, compassionate acts in the world must have a clearly defined basis. While RAKS (‘random acts of kindness’) are nice, it’s only focused ones that accumulate toward real change.
Coming out of silence is fascinating…a combination of wanting to talk out of pent-up ideas spilling out matched with a longing for that sweet silence to continue. Having this retreat during the week of Tiferet was perfect timing (of course…it’s ALL perfect timing…it’s just that we don’t always notice that fact!)
Harmony within Harmony, Beauty within Beauty, Balance within Balance, harmony in beauty, balance in harmony, beauty in balance. It’s magnifying that G!d-spark within. Balance as a verb, not a noun—a dynamic process of frequent, if not constant seeking to adapt to ever-changing inner and outer circumstances. Being ‘centered’ is momentary–the question is how to remember that moment….
Sometimes the only way to get some sense of balance is to say NO! No, just because another person called and needed me to help them immediately does not mean I need to drop everything to help them right now. No, just because I would like to leave work and go for a long walk in the sunshine does not mean that that would be the wisest choice. No, just because I have the opportunity to do another presentation does not mean that I need to do that. In essence, keeping an inner balance, a harmonious life REQUIRES that I set up appropriate boundaries, that I discern the difference between opportunity and necessity. The mantra is this: “JUST BECAUSE I CAN DOESN’T MEAN I MUST”. I really appreciate the lesson of this pairing of sephirot……
Just got back from conducting a shiva minyan for a 92 year old gentleman, who was universally described as caring, loving, and generous. Mr. Chesed, I’ll call him. How appropriate to count the Omer at the minyan, in his honor, bringing his Chesed into the room to increase the beauty and harmony of the prayer community. Another one of those Omer counting moments…where the theme of the day and the events of the day are in synch.
As we start the week of Tiferet, I’m always reminded of how difficult it can sometimes be to stay in balance, with all the pulls and pushes we all have in our lives. I’m grateful to have a whole week devoted to paying deeper, closer attention to that aspect of being alive.
Indwelling Presence within Discernment…gee, doesn’t that include everything we do with kavvanah? I was thinking about how, many years ago, I was studying physics and struggled mightily with the idea (which I was supposed to blindly accept), that there was a force equal to gravity that was somehow “pushing up” and keeping me on the earth. Now, however, the idea that Divine Energy is simultaneously within my depths and flowing through me is NOT a problematic concept! Indwelling Presence seems obvious–and the multidirectional flow seems elementary. I guess there is something to the concept of slow spiritual maturation.
Malchut, on some deep etymological level, refers to counsel, not only to control. That kind of sovereign makes sense to me–imagine a place headed by a wise and thoughtful counselor who made decisions based on knowledge of the Endless. That could be our communities, our countries…or even ourselves! To paraphrase a song–wouldn’t that be lover-ly!
Some of you know that, among other things, I have a degree in Architecture. Today is a good day to remember some of the things I learned in that field–applicable not only to actual physical structures, but to the other structures of our lives: the emotional frameworks upon which we rely, the intellectual assumptions that help us understand the world, and the spiritual web into which each of our moments is woven.
Firm foundations help structures be strong, but firm does not mean rigid. The best foundations are responsive to conditions (soil, culture, history) and result in the ability to be appropriate when crises occur. In the midst of those crises- hurricanes, divorces, job challenges etc–we are more able to discern our best choices when we stand on firm foundations.
Yesod is a carefully designed foundation underlying the discernments of Gevurah. May each of our boundaries be undergirded by faith that the One is the foundation of All.
After a keep on goin’, keep on goin’ day full of sunshine and mild breezes and appreciation of the amazing process by which the lovely flowers on my pear tree will, B”H, develop into pears!
Hod she b’Gevurah is one of my favorites: a day which always calls me to be more aware of the details in nature than usual. As the sun was setting into this day, there were pink streaks in the clouds, no, maybe they were blue or purple, or that ’sky-blue-pink’ that is so hard to describe. I plan to spend part of tonight/tomorrow contemplating some of the many various parts of my personal history which help me make good judgments now, well into my adulthood. Hod, as amazing variety and detail…..infusing my ability to discern. There are so many choices in life…yet so many of us often see only black or white, left or right, right or wrong….today is a day for going beyond the shades of gray…into the rainbow.