What a journey you and I are on right now. Together. We have had trips canceled, weddings postponed, jobs lost. We have had holidays and funerals over Zoom. We walk outside with masks.
Not only have we removed events from our calendars, but we have also had to “shed” the skin we have had until now.
When this is all over, we will be new people – honed and changed by this experience of separation and new kinds of connection.
This will not be a journey that ends with “going back to normal.”
“Normal” will have to be re-thought.
As humans, when this is over, hopefully, we will emerge wiser, more self-aware, and more grateful. Perhaps essence and simplicity will have a new meaning.
I don’t know about you, but the journeys that have been thrust upon me and not chosen are the times I have learned the most about myself.
Such as strengths I didn’t know I possessed. I learned about what I could do without, and what was essential.
Traditionally in Jewish time, the seven weeks that follow Passover are a time of collective and individual journey. We leave the narrow place of our slavery and walk into freedom.
But it’s not so simple. We complain and we argue. In the desert, challenging leadership is an everyday thing. Additionally, so much is unknown.
We swim in a sea of uncertainty – kind of like now.
However, as we arrive at the foot of Mt Sinai, the place where Wisdom is revealed – we unfold. We open. We receive.
The seeds for a new life with vision and purpose and unity have been planted within us. This is the possibility that awaits us as we navigate the unknown.
The parallels are astounding to what we are currently going through. In the ancient story, we fall down and we get back up.
If we remain awake, the opportunity of unfolding into the new world begins now. It starts by making choices today about what energy you will feed and by committing to the deeper path of discovering what is essential in you and to you.
In years past, I have taught a course during this time of wandering (called “Counting the Omer”) about how to use this time to refine our souls. We talked about the journeys we have chosen in our lives – new careers, retiring, getting divorced, going back to school — as well as the journeys that were chosen for us: loss, accidents, and illnesses.
The Journey We Did Not Choose
However, as I look at the material this year, it occurs to me that the journey this year is profoundly different. Yes, we each can relate to our life as a journey, and how we walk that path from Awakening to Arriving.
However each one of us is ALIVE at this moment in history – a global pandemic – and surely, this is an unforeseen journey that beckons us to do soul-work in a totally new way.
We will spend more time talking about the spiritual practices that allow us to tolerate uncertainty, and help us center ourselves while dealing with grief and loss.
I really feel that this time, should we each choose to use it to become our best selves, has the potential to put us individually and collectively in a position to lead into the new world that we will all create together.
If you are interested in walking this path of the journey not chosen with a group of fellow seekers, please check out the Journey course I’m teaching here. I would love to walk with you.
A wonderful poem for right now by Pat Schneider.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE JOURNEY
The self you leave behind
is only a skin you have outgrown.Don’t grieve for it.Look to the wet, raw, unfinishedself, the one you are becoming.The world, too, sheds its skin:politicians, cataclysms, ordinary days.It’s easy to lose this tenderlyunfolding moment. Look for itas if it were the first green bladeafter a long winter. Listen for itas if it were the first clear tonein a place where dawn is heralded by bells.And if all that fails,wash your own dishes.Rinse them.Stand in your kitchen at your sink.Let cold water run between your fingers.Feel it.
Dana Tennert says
The problem is we haven’t even packed for this journey. I can call when 1 person returning from China contracted the virus. One. Today Illinois has over 23,000 cases and over 12.000,000 have not contracted it YET. When can we expect normalcy? Can we ever expect normalcy? Not with Trump’s America first attitude.
Mary Ann Malkoff says
What a blessing you are to us Rabbi Jill. Yours are the words I needed to hear today. This is a journey we did not choose. I’ve been sequestered now for 33 days. The inner work has been profound. I feel as if RIGHT NOW is the time to see this as an eighteen month journey. Absolutely will be signing up for your class. It is a time to reevaluate everything. We are on a journey, we can only take a small amount of luggage forward. Your class will help me to pack wisely.
Cathy Aronson says
Rabbi Jill, I have to tell you that you and your words of wisdom are the highlights of my day. In addition to this pandemic, I blew my knee out and can’t get it fixed for obvious reasons, and my Landlord informed me before the pandemic hit that he is selling the house and I have to move. I have always been a “Glass half full” person, but there are days the glass begins to drain. Just as that happens, I read something you have posted, and I am restored.
It is my hope and prayer that we all come out of this with a renewed look as to what is truly important in our lives, and a new appreciation for all that previously took for granted.
Blessing upon you, always!
Karon Reeves says
Thank you! Your newsletters always revitalize my hope.