Posts Tagged sephirot
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Gevurah is about setting appropriate boundaries, which can only be done through careful discernment. Today, the second day of our journey, we recognize that in order to be effective, the flow of lovingkindness needs shape, focus and containment.
My grandson is visiting tonight, doing an overnight. Though my love for him is boundless, if I didn’t set down some rules and expectations, he wouldn’t already be asleep, after having a healthy dinner and a nice bath. It’s appropriate that today in the counting of the Omer, we apply Gevurah to our Chesed!
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.
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.