By Debbi K. Levy
Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. My people are hurting. I am hurting. I can feel it so intensely in my body. Unspeakable atrocities are filling the airwaves and a ground invasion appears imminent. I am doing my best to process the plight of Israel and the geography that is the Middle East. I hope and pray constantly for the safe return of the hostages. May each one be returned unharmed.
My mind loops and repeats the terrifying images my brain has now etched in place. From the depths of my belly comes a silent howl. I push back tears that want to flow and unload the dishwasher instead of leaning into the grief. I write a special thank-you note to a friend who gifted me a crystal before the world turned upside down. I dive into some necessary research for an upcoming workshop. I order some replacement sneakers online.
The cobwebs are everywhere. I feel like I am using double amounts of energy to do the things I always do, like unloading the dishwasher. Does it really matter if the forks are stacked neatly one on top of the other in neat little rows? My natural tendencies that urge me to keep a tidy and organized home are quickly falling away.
Where is the handy roadmap? Is it the one we manufactured after the Yom Kippur War? Is it the one we saw during the collaboration of the elected officials after 9/11? Is the roadmap, indeed, a sacred one found in the Bible that points to many variations and strands of hatred toward the Jewish people?
Walking out of my back door to make my way to the JCC as usual, I feel relief, especially with the additional police officers there to secure our coming and going. Teaching yoga and mindfulness have never been the kind of salve I am receiving as of late. Does it make a difference that the practices I lead are through a Jewish lens? A resounding yes to this query and an invitation for my friends.
Please consider making your way to a practice or stillness session of some sort. Jewish lens work, in my opinion, means that your practice will be strengthened and particularly poignant with the kavanah of inviting holiness to your mat, your seat or your quiet walk in a natural setting. You may decide to pray, finding words from deep in your heart for the Eternal. Or perhaps your solitude brings you to a place of simply sustaining your own deep inhales and exhales, providing a benefit to your immune system. More than likely, you may intensely need this time to process all that you are hearing and reading. You may not even realize at this moment which you need most. Maybe it is all crashing together and the quiet allows you to observe one tangled-up strand at a time.
Full disclosure: The practices I have led and participated in have not brought me an epiphany or even a clear summation of all that has taken place. But the practices through this Jewish lens have encouraged me to continue to be in a relationship with God. With my own humble, human exchange and conversation. And the Creator of All fully understands complexity and that knowledge sometimes seeps out from my heart as tear stains on my mat.
Today is Sunday. I was fortunate to have some time in the sanctuary of Temple Emanu-El. Somehow even with programming and religious school in session, I was thankfully alone. It felt like a luxury just to sit. My eyes found the Ner Tamid and would not let go. I worked on connecting with my breath. I let it be OK that the child in me kept asking Adonai, “What now? What now?” without trying to assemble a more grown-up request or prayer. Just breathing, not controlling as I am apt to do, quietly encouraging what my heart wants to pour out to meet my mind and then my soul. Seeking the spark again and again.
That mystical spark, I think, touched mine, as I lovingly reminded myself that Your Spark resides in me. I linger here in Your powerful presence, Almighty, and pray with all my heart for the return and safety of our hostages, for the safety of Israel and her people and for the gift of shalom that one day must surely be Your gift to the world and our inheritance. May it be so. Amen.
Kohenet Debbi K. Levy welcomes your conversation at Debbiklevy@gmail.com.