We hope that the Lag B’Omer holiday on Wednesday provided some respite from the hard work of Journey of the Soul and that the past day provided some space and time for celebration, relaxation and play. It is important to remember that our ability to realize the intention we declared at the outset of this adventure is strengthened both by our efforts as well as our periodic pauses.
We are not “there” yet. We still have a ways to go. So now, we pack up our travel gear, put on our backpacks, and return to the road we are making. Ready? Here we go!
Whenever we step forward into uncharted terrain, we will make mistakes. We fall down. We get up. We step forward again. Breakdowns can become breakthroughs. This is how we learn. This is how we grow. This is how we find our way home.
Today we acknowledge that making mistakes is part of the journey, an important component of Finding Our Way.
To help us explore this theme, we offer a selection from Snake Talk, from A Traveling Jewish Theater, written by Naomi Newman. We received this text from our teacher, Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg, on a retreat of the Rabbinic Leadership Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. It moved us deeply. We hope the humor — as well as the wisdom — of this teaching touches you, too. Advice: read it out loud, either to yourself or a partner. Then, read it again. (TO watch this performed on YouTube: https://youtu.be/VvzWJfFsQFs)
Enough of the oy veh! path. Now we are going to fix it. Now we make a new path. So. You take a shovel, you take a ground hacker, you take a hairpin. If all you got is a hairpin, take a hairpin and start digging. Dig in all directions, up and down, right and left, in and out. Not in a straight line. Nothing natural or interesting goes in a straight line. As a matter of fact, it is the quickest way to the wrong place. And don’t try to pretend you know where you are going. Because if you know where you are going, you have been there, and you are going to end up exactly where you came from. Okay. So now we are digging. All of a sudden you bump into a stone. Oooh, it’s so cute. Un-un. Throw it away like a hot potato. You are going to bump into lots of stones, geologically fascinating; stones of blame, resentment, self-pity. Oooh, from these I could build a palace. Forget it. You build from them, what you got is a prison. So you bend down, you pick ’em up, you throw ’em away. Dig a little, pick a little, throw a little, turn; dig a little, pick a little, throw a little, turn…
Now this is where you got to pay special attention to getting lost. If you are not lost, you are in trouble. Lost? Good. Sit down, blow your nose, and wait. Sometimes you got to wait for a very long time. Until a bird or a stranger comes along with a message. And do you know what you are supposed to do while you’re waiting? You are supposed to do…nothing. Nada, zilch, nothing. And if you can do that, if you can do nothing until the right thing comes along, then you have mastered the hardest part of all.
Okay. So now you are back on the road, nice and easy, no rush, no push, and you take one little step, you take two little steps, you take three little steps, you take… watch out! WATCH OUT! You are about to fall into the puddle of empty manifestation. Here on the fourth step you are meant to fall down, not once, not twice, not occasionally, but on every fourth step. The ground opens up, the wind blows, a branch hits you in the head, you trip on stones, you twist your ankle, your heart breaks, you’ve got to fold the laundry and they have closed the two left lanes. All of the forces gathered together to stop you. And some people, when it happens, they fall down and they lie there for the rest of their lives. But some people learn to fall down/get up. Now that is one move: fall down/get up.
Okay. So now you are on your own way and you notice that with every step
you straighten up a little bit. And it hurts. All of the places you’ve been bending over that got stuck. And don’t try to avoid it hurting.
Because if you do, you will never straighten up.
Okay. That’s it. That is how you do it. You dig, you bend down,
you throw away, you go in circles, you get lost, you wait, you listen,
you do nothing,
you fall down/get up;
and inside, you unfold.
We began this fifth week noting that “stuff happens” on the spiritual journey. We are going to make mistakes. We take a few steps forward, and then we’re going to fall down. This is not failure. It’s how the journey goes. The key is not to stay down on the ground. “Fall Down/Get Up is one move.”
The questions to each one of us on this thirty-fourth day of the Omer are: What mistake or mistakes have you made during the past thirty-three days of Journey of the Soul? From what falling down might you now get up? How might you transform a breakdown into a breakthrough?
Mindful Reading: When you read this piece slowly, what phrases most resonate with your own journey? Which part made you laugh? Which sentence moved your heart? Which phrase or phrases would you want to most remember, as if on a post-it note?
Blessing for Counting the Omer:
Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav
v’tzivanu al sefirat ha’omer.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Holy One of Blessing, who makes us holy with sacred obligations and commands us to count the Omer.
Counting: Today is the thirty-fourth day, totaling four weeks and six days of the Omer:Hayom arba-ah u’shloshim yom, she-haim arba-ah shavuot v’shisha yamim la-omer.
Blessings to you on this new day. We are delighted to journey together.
Rabbi Jill Zimmerman and Rabbi Cindy Enger
* a project of Rabbis Jill Zimmerman and Cindy Enger