In these last 7 weeks of the Jewish calendar, each day has been counted, one after another. During this time of counting the days, there is an unspoken invitation to take a deeper look at how we conduct ourselves both in the outer world and in our own inner realm.
After we locate ourselves in the world of our relationships, we can begin an inquiry. When we are extending kindness towards another in need of it, do we have enough backbone to extend this kindness in a way that preserves the other person’s dignity and self worth? Do we have enough self-discipline to fuel what we are doing. Do we have good boundaries with people; can we say yes and no? What is our experience of compassion? Have we lapsed into being far too judgmental of others rather then being discerning?
And then there is the gaze towards the tender inner self. The invitation there is – Can we grow space within ourselves? Space enough to begin to see how trapped we’ve been in old belief systems and patterns.
A while back, I studied at a spiritual school in India. I was speaking with my teacher about my shyness. I asked him how was I ever going to get over it? He said – did you ever see the movie The Shashank Redemption? One of the main characters in the prison had this tiny hammer that he was making chess pieces out of. One day he went to carve his name into his cell wall with his tiny hammer. He realized the hammer could cut through the wall slightly. He was to be in his prison cell for 2 full life sentences, so he had time. He did the math - if he heads in this direction, hammering the wall, in about 20 years he could dig through the whole wall and get out. And that is just what he did. My teacher went on to say that everything in creation is undergoing a process, some kind of continuous transformation. It is very easy to get overwhelmed when we see what is ahead of us, when we see the mountains we have to climb, but all we have to concern ourselves with is just taking one step ahead. Life keeps on pulling situations to you, to make you take that one more step. And what is that step? It is quite simple actually. Life all the time is trying to help you get unstuck and release those places where you have been held captive. My teacher in parting said - don’t worry about it, just keep taking the steps.
We are invited into this self-inquiry process so that we can clear out enough space inside to receive and feel once again, Divine connection.
My own natural strategy that I go back to when I am trying to shake myself loose from the places I am stuck is to refresh my living space. I sort through of all kinds of items that I have kept for various reasons. Some things need to be let go, others repaired and others replaced.
I spent the day, going through my possessions and throwing things out. It was a process of giving up and letting go and it was painful. I could finally part with my clock radio that I got as a high school graduation gift from Mrs. Metzger. The knob to adjust the time had long broken off. Each time it got unplugged, or the power went out or there was the time change, I had to stick a pen into the hole to adjust the time. The left edge of the clock had completely broken off in a fall and you could look in through the side. Dust had gotten in, making a glance at the time, a challenge. It had paint dripped on it from listening to music while I painted my various apartments and homes. And still, I used that clock. I threw it out.
It is said that at the time of Matan Torah, everyone stood there as one beating heart, hearts beating together as the Divine connection was uniquely seared into each person.
I think that Divine connection is there to be uniquely received, for all beings, again and again. Maybe we don’t even have to worry about getting it all pulled together and perfected, thinking that we need to hide our unworthy parts before we can once again receive that Divine connection.
My husband has a saying that he tells our kids when they don’t want to do what he has told them to do – just ease into your experience. I think there is a lot of life that just needs to be eased into, stepping your toes into the cold unheated pool, one step at a time up the mountain.
The poet Rumi says that there is a kiss that we want with our whole lives, the touch of the Divine on our entire being.
May we be able to once again open ourselves fearlessly to receive this Divine connection that has now arrived.