Welcome to the eighth day of the journey.
This is the first day of the second week. This new week’s kavannah (intention), is
Last week was about Waking Up, hearing the “call” of our hearts, listening to the still, small voice within. Now, as we begin this next phase of the journey and introduce the concept of Setting Out, we don’t imagine that all of us will be packing our bags or starting a new venture this week. Although some of us might be. For many of us, the “leaving” is an internal shift. This Journey of the Soul is a pilgrimage traveled on different planes.
The poet and writer Alden Solovy suggests that the Passover seder is the beginning of our living “inside a metaphor.” He adds that the 49 days we count the Omer is “an invitation to stay inside the metaphor, to stay connected to the journey.” *
What is this metaphor? The word “Egypt/Mitzrayim” means “constriction and narrowness.” Egypt is a place; it is also a way of living or state of mind. Leaving Egypt represents the conscious choices we make to set out from any limited, constricted place or way of thinking and move into the great expanse of freedom.
As we read in the Passover Haggadah, in every generation, each of us must see ourselves as if we ourselves came out of Egypt. Perhaps this is why Passover is the most celebrated Jewish holiday: we find ways to make this story of ancient slavery and freedom into our story. We tell of the ways we are less than whole and how we can break free. We remind ourselves that many people in the world still are not free.
Michael Walzer writes:
We still believe…what the Exodus first taught…
— first, wherever you live it is probably Egypt —
— second, that there is a better place, a promised land —
— and third, that the way to that land is through the wilderness —
and there is no way to get from here to there except by joining together and marching.”
Exodus and Revolution, page 149
With the vision of a better tomorrow, we decide to set out into the unknown. Whether we leave a physical place or a constricted way of thinking that has kept us stuck, sometimes we leap, sometimes we jump, sometimes we take a very tentative first step. Whatever the way, finding ourselves now awake, we decide to leave.
This week we explore the various aspects of what it means to set out, to leave.
The questions to each one of us on this eighth day of the Omer are: It can be helpful to decide which aspect of your life or way of thinking you want to work with and transform. What might that be? Can you imagine a life in which you experience more freedom in connection with whatever is burdening you? Is there something in your life you want to create more space around?
Mindfulness practice: Using the metaphor that Michael Walzer describes, spend some time in silence, either sitting or on a quiet walk, imagining what your “promised land” looks like. What does it feel like in your body? Notice what thoughts and feelings come up for you. You may want to journal about this.
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 eighth day, totaling one week and one day of the Omer: Hayom sh’monah yamim, she-haim shavua ekhad v’yom ekhad la-omer.
Blessings to you on this new day. We are delighted to journey together.
Rabbi Cindy Enger and Rabbi Jill Zimmerman
* * Read more from this article by Alden Solovy: Halfway Between Green and Yellow
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*For more information on what the “Omer” is and why we “journey” and how we “count”, click here