Archive for April, 2010

DAY 11: Netzach she b’Gevurah

Sun is just going done….a long week. Shabbat’s about here. I’m feeling grateful for spiritual stamina…endurance increases discernment…a necessary attribute for the week, the day, the life.

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DAY 10: Tiferet she b’Gevurah

It really was a Gevurah she b’Gevurah day before the sun went down!  The clearest example was helping a couple whose combined age was 185 years (!) move out of their home into an assisted living apartment. Helping them distinguish the issues of safety vs familiarity, helping them discern the positive aspects of a change they had dreaded, and then helping their family be strong enough to insist that they accept the loving boundaries of a changed living situation….I was grateful for the spiritual strength available to me on this day of the Omer journey; I needed it to help them.

Tonight was something completely new in Albuquerque—a women’s Maimouna event.  Over 120 Jewish women gathered — from across the spectrum of affiliation and observance — to mark the traditionally Moroccan celebration that follows Passover.  Harmony, beauty and balance were everywhere (along with delicious food, great singing and warm greetings)….tiferet then helped in the discernment necessary for the more serious part of the evening–table discussions on the meaning of freedom for us as women today.  The stories were powerful, funny, informative and unusual….as we went around at each table, there were tales of oppression and liberty, of limited opportunity and tremendous growth.  The whole evening reflected the theme of the tenth day of the Omer — harmony within discernment and balance as an essential element of strength.  May the hours that complete this day follow that most memorable beginning.

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DAY 9: Gevurah she b’Gevurah

When I think of ‘discernment’ within ‘discernment’, I also think ‘judgment’ within ‘judgment’, I can’t help thinking I’m crossing the line toward being judgmental. It’s such a loaded word, but I’ve been wondering about the fine line between being a careful judge–a judge of character, for example–or the Judges in Tanach–where the word implies a kind of wisdom and thoughtfulness. When did applying that kind of thoughtful decisionmaking get to imply intolerance or guilt-tripping or negativity? Today, constraint/boundaries/strength/judgment turns in on itself. I think of that mathematical construction called a “Kline bottle”, which is a three dimensional Moebius strip–the surfaces on the ‘inside’ become the surfaces on the ‘outside’ and continue to exchange in relationship with each other. (I’m sure there’s a better explanation–any math folks out there?). Anyway, discerning boundaries is a continuum rather than a differentiator, then we can begin to recognize the interconnectedness of everything–that discernment is rather arbitrary if all is really One. Perhaps discernment within discernment is an exercise in recognizing that differentiating is an intellectual exercise, that spiritual discernment is about recognizing/discerning that boundaries blend, in the final analysis. Ein Sof, after all, is about the total lack of boundary!

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DAY 8: Chesed she b’Gevurah

Eight marks new beginnings; we perform bril mila on the eighth day! Today we recognize that each time we make a commitment, we are marking a boundary and infusing the ‘area’ within that boundary with love. Think about pregnancy–love growing inside a strong, yet flexible container. At meditation tonight, the group was strong and clear, and the energy could flow freely and strongly, lifting the entire group to a higher/deeper level….without the commitment of each individual in the group, the spiritual trust necessary for lovingkindness/G-d energy to flow would have been more difficult.

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DAY 7: Malchut/Shechina she b’Chesed

In Jewish tradition, seven is the number of completion, of a kind of ’sealing’. Seven circles during the wedding ceremony, seven stops between the funeral coach and the gravesite, seven days in the week….a pause for appreciating, accepting, understanding the new reality at the pause point. The seventh day of the Omer marks the end of Passover, when the foods of remembering are enjoyed for the last time until next year. The transition from slavery toward freedom is eased this way; by paying special attention to the special restrictions on what we eat this first week of the Omer, we do not have to be faced with the overwhelming choices of total freedom.

Malchut/Shechina is about sovereignty; recognizing that the spark of Divine within us gives us special power and special responsibility. “Dominion” does not only mean “dominate”, but also “territory”. We control our own internal territory. Today’s task is to focus that personal control toward caring, in the physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual worlds. So may it be.

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DAY 6: Yesod she b’Chesed

Another synchronicity.  Earlier today I did a workshop in Santa Fe on counting the Omer.  There was no pre-registration, so I had no idea how many people would come.  To help ‘tune in’ to the amazing extravagance of detail in our physical world, I brought a basket full of sea shells to hand out for people to hold and examine.  Appropriate for crossing the seas…..There were EXACTLY the same number of shells in the basket as people at the workshop!  And a splended variety of people…as well as shells!

Yesod provides stability at the point on the tree where all the upper sephirot gather together before the final step….I sometimes think of it as the point on which the dreidl spins—with gravity holding it toward it’s destination.  A solid foundation is a necessary part of love that can grow, adapt and grow again.  Without that firmness, it begins to wobble.  Yesod is placed at the genitals, the source of our future, the holding area for DNA….infused into lovingkindness, as it is today, we can be hopeful about generations to come.

Blessings for a good crossing!

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DAY 5: Splendor within Lovingkindness

During the Netzach Shabbat which just went out, I was amazed at how often the word “netzach” appears in the Shabbat liturgy! Netzach netzachim! We did a brief meditation before Pesukei d’Zimra about how persistance over time has helped us keep the lovingkindess in Shabbat.

Now, on to Hod, which I envision as the splendidness of multiplicity, of complexity, of variety. Think of it as, in a way, Gevurah (boundaries) under an electron microscope. We can perceive amazing details, discern fantastic differentiations at the level of Hod. The path from Hod to Chesed goes through Tiferet, reminding us that awareness of splendor, infused with beauty informs and enhances the expression of lovingkindness. We can encounter many varieties of Chesed each day; today, the fifth day of the Omer, we focus on being aware of them.

Shavua tov!

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DAY 4: Persistance within Lovingkindness

Netzach she b’Chesed will be coming soon, along with Shabbat, as the sun goes down here. I am reminded of how long, successful relationships require many small acts of caring, persistance, endurance. During the weekly grief group I run, I often hear of people who cared for their loved ones during a protracted final illness, moments of caring piled up upon moments of caring. Whether we are caring for our loved ones, or about an issue about which we feel passionately, our netzach keeps infusing the energy we need to help compassion flow. Shabbat shalom!

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DAY 3: Harmony within Lovingkindness

Often during the period of counting the Omer, synchronicities happen that relate to the theme of the day. Earlier today, during Day 2, Gevurah within Chesed, one of those happened. I was visiting soma patient in the hospital when a friend of hers came in, windblown and tired from rushing to get there. Spontaneously, the visitor said to her friend: “I really care about you, and I wanted to see you…but I really had to set some boundaries to be able to get here. So I canceled a client so I could be here.” Neither one of them knew about the Omer, about Gevurah, or about the theme of the day….it just happened!

Today, the third day of counting, focuses on Harmony and balance within lovingkindness. I’m reminded of how difficult it sometimes is to find balance in our busy lives. We talk about ‘centering ourselves’, about life being a ‘balancing act’..it’s interesting that we express these as verbs…as actions, dynamic…not as a state of ‘being in balance’, or ‘living harmoniously’. Today we can focus on bringing that desire for harmony, based in the center of our bodies, and in our hearts, through Chesed, lovingkindness. It’s as if the action of seeking harmony needs a coating of love to come to a balance point, to a place of stillness.

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