Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Numbering my days

If you've been looking at this blog lately, you'll have seen that most of the posts have been more personal -- about biking and gardening -- than professional (about chaplaincy or education). That might make you think that I haven't been working very hard these days -- nothing could be further from the truth! I've been working really hard.

But ever since Passover -- ever since we've entered the season of the Omer -- I feel like I've been living in the wake of the חג/hag (festival), especially in the wake of command for us to joyful on our holidays (ושמחת בחגך).

That command has not always been an easy one for me. I'm not an always upbeat person by nature -- and I'm often downright grumpy and sometimes even depressed -- so sometimes this command has felt like a condemnation of who I am at my core. And it's certainly a painful thing to feel like your faith tradition -- the thing that should be guiding you to all that is good and liberating and holy in life -- is condemning who you are.

But this Passover I really felt myself coming to a place of peace with this command. And I worked hard -- prepared long and seriously -- to make it a Passover of joy, a Passover where I felt like I was living my best through all of the holidays many commands. I even took Hol Moed -- the intervening days, the days that are kind of half holidays according to the tradition -- seriously: I worked during them, but also made sure to take the time to relax and enjoy the beautiful spring weather we've been having this year. Preparing for the holiday and taking its rhythms seriously brought me much joy this Passover, and I can honestly say it's the best I've ever had.

When I first started to get serious about Jewish observance, it was the crown jewel of Judaism -- the Sabbath, or Shabbat -- that first really gripped me. Judaism commands joy and celebration -- עונג/oneg -- on Shabbat. But it doesn't command us to maintain that holy state all the time. It leaves us six days for work. That's the rhythm we're commanded to live by. It's one where most of the time is given to work, but where the most important thing happens during that shorter time one day a week.

So, I've been working -- especially on my graduate studies I've been working and thinking and growing -- but what's seemed relevant to share lately is how I've been finding joy, and how that relates to the rhythms of the Jewish calendar. So I will write here specifically about chaplaincy and education, again. But what I have been writing about lately -- well, that, too, is Torah. And I'm glad to share it.

I hope you, too, will find joy!

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