Posts Tagged Hod
Splendor within Indwelling Presence
For many people, awe is the basis of our first spiritual experiences. Being amazed at a natural phenomenon is one accessible experience (tonight the clouds were illuminated by the setting sun, highlighted against the glowing mountains, for example). Feeling in touch with some larger reality, as at a birth or a death, is another. For others, it is the clarity that accompanies an intellectual realization. For still others, the sense of overcoming overwhelming odds and accomplishing a difficult task. In all these cases, we remember that there are many magnificent aspects of the Divine, each contributing, each facet magnifying and beautifying the Whole. Each of us is part of the splendor that is inextricably part of the Holy Presence, that One of which we are a part and which is a part of us. The prayer “Ayn od milvado”, loosely translated as “there is nothing except the Oneness” reminds us of the eternal unfolding in which we are honored to participate.
Splendor within Foundation
In Biblical tradition, forty days signifies a sufficient amount of time for major transition to occur (40 days of the Great Flood, Moses on the mountain receiving instruction etc.). As we mark 40 days of Counting the Omer, we recognize that paying attention daily to where we are in the journey of our lives is an important spiritual practice. Each element of our awareness is essential, but when those elements interact, the miraculous is possible. Each day we build the connective tissue of the world we are creating, the varied parts holding each other up.
Today we celebrate the tiny parts of the integrated whole we are co-creating with the Holy One. Each of us plays a part, recognizing we are part of a Great Oneness. After these five weeks and five days of counting, we see glimpses of the possible; we are getting very close to whatever will be revealed to us at Shavuot. It is not just the ancient communal Revelation that is important, though it is, but the personal revelations that appear to each of us, as we are prepared to receive them. May the splendor we recognize today help build the kind of foundation upon which we can stand strongly as we get ready for the great encounter at Shavuot.
Indwelling Presence within Splendor
Malchut is related to the word Melech, King, and is sometimes translated as ’sovereignty’. I think of sovereignty as a quality of a wise, guiding leader, not of an autocratic demagogue. Would that all Kings and Queens guided their people that way!!!
Today, we recognize that Divine Guidance is an essential part of all the splendor in the Universe. Consider the latest discoveries in astronomy — dark matter, beautifully colored rotating galaxies, ancient light reaching us. The Psalms are full of these kind of images….read a few today!
Foundation within Splendor
The foundations of our lives are built on our cumulative experience and the knowledge we have gathered along the way. We are all several ’selves’– our most private self of inner thoughts and responses, our ‘family self’, our ‘friend self’, the self we display at work, in the neighborhood or at public events. Each is a response to a different set of expectations, yet each is also based on a foundational self–the one that is our ‘bottom line’ of ethical behavior, of automatic caring and of our deepest loves. Today we remember that underpinning of all of our selves…the yesod that holds us up, in all of our splendor.
Splendor within Splendor
Shavua tov! Today is Lag b’Omer, the special holiday that is celebrated on the 33rd day of the counting toward revelation. We can find many explanations for the holiday, but I want to focus on how it is marked today – with picnics and outdoor events. We celebrate the diversity of nature as evidence of the splendor in our world. Appreciation implies responsibility. Today, this means responsibility for preserving the diversity of nature so that future generations will be able to appreciate it. Climate change is real. In Israel, Lag b’Omer picnics are usually accompanied by campfires– but this year wildfires are raging. In other locations, lovely picnic groves have become surrounded by dying vegetation. We can, appropriately, look at Lag b’Omer as a call to environmental action.
Rav Kook says: The whole is constituted of numberless particulars, particular individuals and particular communities The whole cannot achieve its highest fulfillment except through the perfection of its particular individuals, and the particular communities, whether large of small, of which it is constituted.” Communities of plants, insects, mammals, trees and humans all count as part of the splendor we celebrate today.
Endurance within Splendor
It’s almost Shabbat. We’ve all endured a long and challenging week, each with our own individual challenges. Shabbat comes as a reward…we can enjoy the Splendor of Shabbat.
Harmony within Splendor
The multitude of individual ‘bits’ of beauty are necessary to produce overall splendor. The notes and rhythmic signatures in written music are simple instructions, yet combined and performed, a symphony results. Smiles between strangers can be meaningless by themselves, but combined, can spread joy across a room, or a city.
Today we celebrate the tiny miracles that add up in our world. When we aware of them, we can help spread their effect, contributing to a better world!
Discernment within Splendor
Discernment is necessary when presented with a wide array of choice. I have been in New York City for the past few days, where there is an overwhelming variety of choices for just about everything! A splendid smorgasbord, but one that could result in paralysis unless it were possible to make choices. We are reminded today that we always have a wide variety of choices available, whether we are in a large city, in a small village or confined to a small, single room. It takes thoughtful, deliberate strength to analyze options and make decisions. It is important to examine any situation in small enough portions to allow us to appreciate the diversity and not be overwhelmed by it.
Lovingkindness within Splendor
Compssion sometimes is manifest in small, surprising ways. I’m reminded of the song with the line “Hello, in there”, referring to the humanity we can see in strangers we encounter, when we remember to really SEE them. I suppose I’m particularly aware of that tonight, since I’m in Manhattan, which I sometimes forget is so full of people! Going for a long walk on city streets, passing a huge variety of people hurrying about their business in their busy-ness, I remember the unspoken prohibition against making eye contact with them. A smile on the street from a stranger can have powerful impact here – is it an invitation? a come-on? should I be afraid? What if I am the person initiating that smile? A little bit of caring, even if it’s just to move aside to allow a person in a hurry to pass me on the crowded sidewalk, can mean a lot. The many miniature impacts of such caring multiply, a manifestation of splendor!
Splendor within Endurance
Hod can be conceptualized as the ’splendor of variety’. As such, it points us toward examining details, appreciating the subtleties that differentiate two almost identical things. I am reminded of how farmers understand the microclimates of their fields, how wine connoisseurs can taste a wine and know it’s ‘terroir’ (the special characteristics of geography, geology and climate of a certain place which are expressed in it’s agricultural products). When we delight in the details of variety, we can’t be bored. When we value diversity, we are more inclined to explore, examine, appreciate and accept new experiences, new people, new tastes. Increasing tolerance leads to increasing endurance; we persist in our endeavors when they are more interesting to us!
May the day bring the kind of diversity that leads to ’staying power’!