Rabbis Without Borders
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I have felt particularly blessed lately. I just celebrated 10 years of service at my congregation. Thankfully, these 10 years have been replete with depth of connection, spiritual growth, and accomplishment for both the synagogue and me. Indeed, we feel blessed and so we celebrated and renewed the vows of our covenantal connection.
I enjoyed every moment of speeches made, videos produced and letters of love and gratitude written. And yet, as the celebrations continued I noticed myself having to work harder than usual to be present for it all. Of course, I was there physically, but spiritually, I had to double down on the work of my soul to take it all in.
I see the personal struggle I describe above with wedding couples and b’nai mitzvah families I work with in preparation for their marriages and bar/bat mitzvah services. Many, albeit, subconsciously, use the busyness of the celebration as a bypass for not being spiritually present for the ritual itself. Of course, we want to be present and take in every moment of joy, but our human inclination is sometimes, as counterintuitive as it sounds, to back off a bit because the moment is just too intensely intimate. It is more than we can handle. Yes, even in moments of ultimate joy, the intensity is sometimes just too much.
That is, unless we prepare. Prepare to be present, an interesting notion for sure. What might that mean? My suggestion is that we actually visualize the event. Yes, we spend time seeing it, imagining it, feeling it. And then see what feelings come forth.
For me, when I actually visualize in anticipation for a milestone, important feelings and thoughts come up. Generally the feelings that emanate are exactly the ones, which inhibit our ability to be present later on. So, let the feelings arise and then explore and dig into them, even and especially when they feel painful. Happy events can sometimes bring up uncomfortable and even sad thoughts. Resolving all of that gives us the chance to take in all of the sweetness of our joy.
Visualize, delve, talk, write….do whatever it takes to prepare. We only get about 15, perhaps 20 of these milestone celebrations throughout our lives. To miss any of it because we are not sure how to be there is cheating ourselves of life’s greatest gifts.
My celebrations for 10 years of service are now in the “books”. But doubling down on being spiritually present may allow me to relive the sweetest of those days for many years to come. Let’s all be present enough that the best of our joy replays itself over and over again for the rest of our days on this earth.
Pronounced: MITZ-vuh or meetz-VAH, Origin: Hebrew, commandment, also used to mean good deed.