Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The First Breath

היום סמנא ימים סהם שבוע אחד ווים אחד לעמר
Today is eight days, which is one week and one day of the omer
חסד שבגבורה
A day of loving kindness in a week of strength

The start of the second week of the omer, and on a certain level, the work of this period really begins. For the first week we're involved in Pesach, when we're reminded of our journey each day as we find different ways to make matzah more palatable. Now that the holiday is over we need to rely on our own commitment to the practice with little ritual to guide us.

Once again, in this time, I often think of Rabbi Lew, z''l. As dedicated as he was to Jewish practice, he found counting the omer a daunting task. By his own admission, he often lost the count in the early going. But each year, he would start again, hopeful that this would be the year he would make it through. Inevitably, he would not, but he didn't look at it as a failure. Failure would be not to try at all. To him, the practice was to start each year and go as far as possible. Think of the feeling in the year that would get finished. It's similar to being a loyal sports fan--an analogy Rabbi Lew would certainly appreciate. Ask die hard Boston Red Sox fans or San Francisco Giants fans how they felt when their team won the World Series after so many years of drought. Their joy, I'm sure, was much sweeter than any who joined the bandwagon just in that year. I know how I felt when, in 1987, my New York (football) Giants won their first Super Bowl.

I teach meditation with the same principle in mind. You have the best intentions. You sit on the cushion, set yourself--legs grounded, chest lifted, mind focused on the breath. You breathe in, you breathe out, and before you know it---your mind has wondered off. That's fine. Just restart. That first breathe is the best one--and the one you will have when things are in a tizzy around you and you need that grounded time the most.

No comments: