Friday, April 29, 2011

Invisible, Intangible

היום אחד עשר יום שהם שבוע אחד וארבעה יומים לעמר
Today is the eleven days, which is one week and four days, of the omer
נצח שבגבורה
A day of perseverance in a week of strength

A couple of days ago I mentioned that I teach Torah to 7th graders. We start each class with a short period of meditation. While I teach them the breath centered practice I learnt from Rabbi Lew and Norman Fisher, I will often give them something to think about while they sit quietly. Staying silent is not easy for 12-year-olds, they need help with focus, and "watching" their breathe is too hard a concept for many of them to grasp at this point in their development.

I start with the basic instructions--sit up, towards the front of the chair; plant your feet on the ground; place your open hands palm down on your thighs or on the table; again, sit up with your shoulders back. I tell them that meditation is simply about being in the present moment--not thinking about what happened in school earlier today or about that soccer game tomorrow--just be And then we breathe. Of course there's some giggling--as I said, the silence is hard for them. But each week they have a little more comfort with the practice, and a couple have come into the classroom, eagerly asking, "Are we going to meditate today?"

I end the quiet time--which is usually only a minute or so--with a poem, and then we recite the blessing for studying Torah. I try to read something that has a relationship to what we will study that evening. This week, as a prelude to our discussion about God, I read this poem by Ruth Brin, z"l, that is a favorite of mine. They seemed to feel the beauty of it--I hope you do too.

All the invisible things fill our days,
Music and love and laughter;
All the intangible things affects us,
Words and anger and prejudice.

You are invisible and intangible,
A God of moods and relationships.
Within us, you are the spirit of unity.
Beyond us, You are the guide to greatness.

We pray to You with an invisible, intangible prayer.
You answer with a flaming sunset
And the touch of a baby's cheek.

Shabbat Shalom

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