Hey you, yeah you, the one whose essence was born in the image of the Eternal One. Before you were ever born here, you were perfect, and that you still exists. Would you breathe that in gently today? Would you nurture the life/soul within you that is precious and wanted and needed here? Because, that’s the truth, and if we come home to that together, all of our grief has a chance at transforming into joy, and we will heal the world.
I am watching for this joy, sometimes from afar, sometimes so near its fire warms me. What an unsuspecting journey it is through the wilderlands of being human, being here. In the last few days a few of my children have asked me in one way or another how to navigate it. One right out asked, “How do we know ourselves?” It was neat because I had just been on a drive, alone with my thoughts, and I was watching pieces come together in my mind and I knew I wanted to tell my kids about it when I could. I got home and they asked me. So, there we were.
“Breathe!” I said, half wondering if they were ready to groan over ol’ mom back at all the breath talk again, all while simultaneously half not wanting to wait to give them a chance to think too hard about whether they wanted to groan or not. This is too exciting, too transmogrifying, to hold in.
In the Writings (Proverbs/Mishle 20:27) it says the breath, the neshama I wrote of a few days ago, of humankind is the light of Hashem, and that it is searching our innermost parts, our “beten“, literally belly, which is another way to say our inner person, our seat of emotion, thought, desire. I am in wonder, as in I really can’t get over, how near this is to us at all times. The Presence of the Eternal One sustaining us always—of course it is near, how else do we live?
But here’s how this interacts with our heart cry to be known, to know ourselves, to have an answer we can hold, and that we can offer, to the question, “Where are you?” (Ayeka). When we stand or sit with intention bringing a deep breath down into our bellies, softening our bodies, relaxing, noticing — light comes. It comes to illuminate how we are feeling, it is a m o m e n t unlike the others where we are distracted or busy going back and forth and in our circles. It is a moment of awareness, we can ask and notice, “where is the tension?” Then we can bring the breath there and release it, and again notice.
Was it in our shoulders, the back of our neck, our throats? Constricting our output, our creative vessel? Then what does that tell us? We believe we are small, unworthy of voice, allowing ourselves to be beaten down, beating ourselves down, we have become bent?
Is the tension felt in our gut? Is relaxing there allowed? What if we did, would we say or do something closer to the truth than we are admitting to ourselves? holding, holding, holding? pushing down? Before these moments of noticing, these things have become our *normal* but now that we have stopped to feel it… we can know ourselves… are we worried? often afraid to be honest? to give space needed? to/about all that we are holding there?
Breath, neshama, what a gift to cherish, it illuminates, it comes to sustain, of course it does. Yet to stop and listen to it can be both disturbing even as it holds the potential to be freeing, doesn’t it? That has been true in my life. To be willing to stand in this tension is both a muscle and a mercy, we must work and pray for both. <—don’t hear “work for our salvation” there, listen (sh’ma) to the reality that to be enabled to do either of those things, to be alive, is our salvation.
“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”
― Abraham Joshua Heschel
I believe this is why the very words surrounding this astonishing insight about our souls, our breath, have to do with what it means to be a wise ruler, the verse prior (Proverbs 20:26) speak of an ability to separate, filter, decisively. And the verse after speaks of lovingkindness and truth preserving a ruler. Oh what honor and dignity is bestowed upon us and oh how we fling it to the far reaches in our unknowing and un-noticing. Yet, more wonder-filled than any of it is that this inexplicably remains close. as close. as our breath. Here, now.
Our inheritance is to be wise and powerful, crowned with grace. What if the question, “Where are you?” could even be considered this way: Are you in the Breath, the knowing that you are loved beyond imagination, invited beyond boundaries and that all of this invitation comes through the form and shape of the things we can imagine, and the boundaries meant to hem us (though we fight them) into this unadulterated freedom?
What if to know ourselves is to know Elohim? What if that’s just the beginning? …of partnership, of creation, and re-creation and wonder beyond mind or what eye has yet seen. This is worth a moment of breath, of relaxing, of noticing, of listening. I don’t care if I do sound like an old shampoo commercial, “you’re worth it” — this is the story that is true, this is the story of Eternity.
Taking a breath, with you, today (((deep—long—slow))). Yeah? now? come on…deep breath in…let it melt out, and notice… “ayeka”… “where are you?”
As I write this to you tonight, it is September 13th, 2021, the end of the 7th of Tishrei, the 7th month in the biblical year 5782, the beginning of the 8th day of awe, counting our way up to the tenth day, Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the year. It is called the day of atonement or covering and it begins this Wednesday evening, September 15th, at sundown. May the moment that breathes eternity come to you with deep knowing and rest that Adonai’s banner over us is Love. amen.
I’m a writer and photographer, sharing my journey, currently writing through the ten days of awe. I’ll be stepping away for a bit now, but thank you for traveling with me through these holy days. If you missed any from this past week, here’s the line-up…
first post: may you know you are held
second post: may you know flight
third post: may you be nurtured in your grief
fourth post: may you hear the question, “where are you?”
fifth post is today’s & Yom Kippur, the day of covering/atonement, begins at sundown, the evening of September 15th, 2021. Yeshua’s, Jesus’, presence on earth did not diminish the sacredness of these days—He revealed their very heart. Listening with you…
one last song for you on this journey together, thank you again for being here with me: