July 24, 2020
Like so many moments we wish to honor in sacred Jewish time yet lose track of in urban house-holding life, Rosh Chodesh Av almost slipped by unnoticed and unmarked.
As I drifted to sleep, I smelled uncharacteristic moisture in the air and remembered the slow-drip of the hose watering the old redbud tree outside my bedroom window. Suddenly, I was upright in my robe and flip-flops and sucked outside under the new moon sky.
What happened next was a surprise: ritual in the form of Spirit doing ritual though me. I wasn’t doing it, it was being done though me. There was no willful manifestation of my mortal ideas of what ritual would be and should be; it was all a surprise and what other is surprise than Spirit doing for us that which we cannot do for ourselves?
Under the spacious sky, my attention was drawn to an odd, painful sensitivity in my skin. I found my hand tenderly holding the site of pain and was reminded that the boundary which most solidly separates me from the mystical realm is literally, my skin. I was also reminded of the way that pain can be a touchstone to spiritual transformation.
There was more tender holding and then there was Spirit’s ruach in me, facing each of the directions and noticing what rose up: East was slow moving change; South was embracing the unknown; West was visionary imagination; North was courageous walking; Below was bowing to the ground as my ancestors flowed in with all their wisdom and all their wreckage and all their desire to become new again, too – like the moon; Above was starlit gentle expansiveness.
As we move into Av, may we each keep finding ourselves in our own skin, holding the pains we encounter as gateways to spiritual transformation, growing our capacity to self-regulate and self-sooth, and opening to the surprising ways of Spirit. As I later drifted into sleep-realm, new moon bathed and porous, I knew Av was to be a month of tenderness and preparation.