Posts Tagged lovingkindness
Lovingkindness within Endurance
Every life requires endurance, the ability to keep going even when the going is rough, when we can’t find our way, when we wake up confused and go to bed befuddled. Sometimes just getting out of bed and finding the toothbrush seems difficult. Sometimes remembering that there are things we really enjoy and want to do seems difficult. When we are in those kind of states, for whatever reason (or for no apparent reason) what often helps us keep going is remembering love. That remembering could be of a person who cared for us many years ago, or a friend with whom we’ve lost contact, or a parent who died. It could be thinking of someone we’ve just met and found interesting, or of someone we’ve been meaning to call for a cup of coffee. Sometimes it’s remembering that we were all created in love, and that it’s kindness that keeps the evils of the world at bay. A familiar prayer says: “We are loved by an unending love”. That IS Chesed she b’Netzach…the everflowing love of the Holy Oneness that supports our endurance daily.
Lovingkindness within Harmony
This third week of Counting the Omer focuses on Tiferet, the energy of harmony, balance and beauty. Tiferet is like a lens that magnifies the beauty inherent in everything, the dynamic balance that sustains everything.
Today Chesed, Lovingkindness serves as fuel for Tiferet. Imagine the flow of love as the source of balance and harmony in the world. We sense contact with God when we are in awe, encountering unexpected beauty, sweet harmony, and sudden tenderness. Just as Miriam the Prophetess gave the water of life to all who came near her, feeding their deepest needs, the flow of Chesed enters our hearts and feeds our needs, perpetuating our own fundamental and unique harmonies.
As we move into Passover, I am excited to once again begin the psycho- spiritual journey through the counting of the Omer. We begin the count tomorrow evening, during the second Seder. It seems fitting to begin this journey of the soul when we, as a people, are just beginning our freedom walk, entering the unknown, in trust.
This first week of the counting of the Omer focuses on the theme of the endless flow of lovingkindness, or Chesed. When we pay attention, we can recognize the existence of compassion in our lives, and rejoice in our ability to share it with others.
The Passover Seder commemorates deliverance from slavery many thousands of years ago, yet is also a contemporary event. The Passover Haggadah states: “In every generation each person should feel personally redeemed from slavery in Egypt…for the Eternal One redeemed not only our ancestors; we were redeemed with them.” How can we do that? In part, the Passover Seder is designed for us to re-experience slavery, through eating bitter foods and eating unleavened bread, and then to celebrate freedom.
The word for Egypt in Hebrew, mitzrayim, means ‘tight place’. This week, we begin by thinking of the ‘tight places’ in our own lives. These might be restrictive relationships, jobs that stifle our creativity, health challenges that limit our mobility, reduced income, emotional tensions left from painful past experiences, or other complex situations where our choices are limited by matters we cannot control. Some of these limits are external, factual circumstances; others might be a result of accepting a narrow view of the possibilities in our lives, a product of fear, violence, a difficult childhood or other painful experiences.
Today we begin a contemporary journey out of our own version of slavery, out of the tight places in our lives, away from those parts of ourselves that are enslaved. By appreciating the gifts in our lives, the flow of Chesed, we can more easily value our liberty and exercise it with humility and gratitude. We begin to use our freedom to have more insight into our own lives. Doing so can help us see our way out of difficult circumstances more clearly. By easing our own narrowness, we move toward personal liberation, improving our own lives, and being more able to take action toward improving the world.
Chesed refers to unconditional love, boundless lovingkindness, flowing constantly from God, the Source. Chesed is grace flowering endlessly, opening new possibilities at each moment of life. Chesed is the ‘spark’ of creativity, where we brainstorm expansively and bubble over with inspiration, as new concepts seem to come from nowhere…and from everywhere. Chesed is like the flow of groundwater over the landscape after a steady rain, streaming, coursing, pulled by hidden forces of gravity, nurturing everything it touches, uncovering hidden secrets, cleansing and brightening.
The first week of the counting of the Omer is an opportunity to be aware of God’s loving presence in the world, manifested and experienced in many ways. Chesed reminds us that our unconscious contains the archetype of unconditional love, the perfect, unquestioning love that we all deserve. In this week of Chesed, we recognize that unending love is always available, and we start to accept it, receive it, and allow it to enrich us and then to channel it through us into the world.
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!
Chesed….flowering, flowing lovingkindness sprinkling caring over all of us. Imagine…we’re just newly free, having survived the physical hardships of slavery, the emotional pain of few choices, the intellectual restrictions of living under a foreign ruler and the spiritual doubts that must have accompanied those many years in Egypt. And then, those plagues…one after another, increasing in severity and yet, still, we were not allowed to leave. And then, just yesterday, miraculously and amidst great peril, we fled to freedom…and into the unknown.
Fear, uncertainty and confusion are helped by the kind of lovingkindness within lovingkindness that is the theme of this, the first day of our counting. The kind of love that surrounds us, helps us find courage in the face of danger. The kind of love that supports us as we take tentative first steps on our own, without orders from taskmasters. The kind of love that we find within us as we begin to understand what has just happened, that we are free to, finally, begin to discover who we are.
So, too, for us today. This first day of the journey toward revelation is based on the deepest knowledge that endless love, from the Source of kindness, is available with every step and every breath. Today, we celebrate in gentleness, in gratitude, in awe.