Saturday, March 23, 2013

Longing for Connection

With Passover just days away and as my friends are furiously preparing their kitchens for the sacred ritual of cleansing their homes, I did a little spring cleaning of my own.  While I don't clean out my kitchen and adhere to the traditional rituals, I want to participate in some way to signify the holiday and do some good.

Giving away clothes is how the holiday manifests in my house.  I began with my drawers first, then my daughter's and next will be my son's.  There is great relief in giving away clothes.  Purging and cleansing offers satisfaction inwardly and outwardly.  Knowing that others will benefit from our give-aways is reward itself, but there is a quiet relief that I am experiencing as I remove the old clothes from our home.

This experience reminds me how lucky and grateful I am to have more than enough.   As my kids grow out of their clothes and I shift my favorites, it is the work of moving the clothes from our closet to the bags with my kids helping that makes the effort even more rewarding.  

But what happens when you want a spiritual and internal cleanse?  Without tangible evidence, how does this journey become real or complete?  How do we renew our faith, passion and commitment?

In our meditation class today, we discussed the importance of rituals and how some enhance the spiritual experience.  Two years ago, I was searching to feel more whole. My dad had passed away, there were some professional transitions, and I felt pulled towards my synagogue but couldn't connect to those who were more observant than me.  I am naturally optimistic, people would describe me as upbeat and I live in gratitude.  But during that time, I was feeling angry, sad, hurt and I imagine a bit lost.  

And then one day it happened.  I felt what others talked about and what I saw it their eyes - spiritual renewal.  My family had participated in our synagogue's family weekend in previous years and I had felt the pull before, but in the winter of 2011, I felt a new and more powerful connection. 

During that retreat, I attended a special service for morning prayers.  In the early morning of Shabbat, the Rabbi and the Cantor led us in beautiful meditative prayers that I had never experienced before.  In that service, I was renewed, grateful and I found something different that connected me to prayer. Whatever anger, sadness or confusion I was holding onto had been released...physically.  My clenched fists were now open palms, my mind was racing with new creative energy and my smile was sincere.  My heart was full and the entire weekend was magical.  

As soon I returned home, I shared my experience with will all that would listen.  After speaking to a friend with whom I had recently reconnected, she invited me to a meditation class at my synagogue...MY SYNAGOGUE!  An invitation from her to join her proved to be the place I had longed for and needed in my life.  Now fourteen months later, that meditation class is my ritual.  I am deeply committed to this class, this friendship and prayer circle with women (some men attend) that feeds my mind and my soul. 

Rituals are good.  Spirituality elevates our rituals and/or rituals bring us to spirituality.  Either way, as in those morning prayers, I am grateful for the awakening and the breath of G-d.

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