Posts Tagged Passover
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.
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.
Just a few days until we start counting. I’m excited and am planning to blog through the Omer period. Since the first night of the Omer count is still Chag, I’ll post my musings about the first night of the Omer before Passover starts…and then pick it up for the second day of the counting.
I did a author reading at Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe on Thursday evening, which was very successful…and also a lot of fun. A wide variety of people, good questions and a wonderful welcoming bookstore.
Blessings for final Pesach preparations to you all.