Over two years ago, I began my journey of meditation when I bravely walked into new group I found through a friend. The group was at my shul, right in the building that I had prayed, celebrated and mourned. There it was and by the time I finished the meditation, I knew something was different. In the past 2 years, I don't think I have missed more than a handful of Shabbat mornings.
Today, I did want to sleep in, but I know better. It was another extraordinary experience. Two new guides who both brought great learning and safety to the group. Our group is typically led by Rabbi Ruth Sohn, but when she is away, we each volunteer to teach and lead the group in a meaningful discussion.
Today, there were tears, some for missing loved ones, some for celebrating new paths and some for the journeys and goals that had been accomplished.
As we discussed the Torah portion, B'midar, we all shared our personal experiences and in two random instances, we took a moment to celebrate of our participants who were celebrating a significant milestone. Randomness feels like magic. I didn't see it coming, but the impact of the two moments felt so rich with that tingle, it is what transforms our conference room into holy space. And I am sure that I saw a twinkle in the eyes of our speakers.
In Chapter 2 of B'midbar, it states, "The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: The Israelits shall camp each with his standard, under the banners of their ancestral house; they shall camp around the Tent of Meeting at a distance." Our guide shared this midrash, also explained in the Etz Chaim, "A person's identity consists of three elements: the self (the standard), the family (the ancestral banners), and the community (the Tent of Meeting). Over the past two years, I don't ever remember reading this phrase with such clarity as I did today. This is what we strive to achieve for ourselves, for our families and for our community. And in the past few days, I have thought about how to deepen my commitment to myself, to my family and to the community. My spiritual growth over the past few years has been transformative and continues.
Today is not a new year, nor a Jewish holiday, or even some commercial national holiday, and yet, it is Shabbat and I get to renew my commitments, continue to learn to create my standard (self) and work to build positive relationships with my family and be active in my community to give back and share our life events.
Yesterday, I read this from Restful Reflections, p. 113, Acquisitions, by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky
"With all your getting, get understanding." Proverbs 4:7
...Some things can be acquired only by learning through our experience with living. And these things are not acquired overnight. They take time, as we take hold of them little by little.
So the writers of the Book of Proverbs advise us to change our focus. Stop buying things. Instead, get understanding. It's good advice to sleep on.
Stuff is not the answer to my happiness and growth, it is through understanding that will allow me to know myself, connect with my family and my community.