Some weeks just plain suck. I drag myself to get out of bed, the coffee is never strong enough, and any kind of communication, just seems to be side-stepping my keyboard, my brain and my mouth. It has been this kind of week. A difficult encounter with a co-worker that left me feeling diminished, stressed, and threatened. A sudden health issue for my aging mother. Three teen agers who live to challenge and provoke. A marriage that could use some time in the repair shop.
When I have a week like this, of course, I look to see who is at fault: my co-worker, my kids, the health care system. My spouse. My job. My life.
Luckily I’m able to interrupt this self-victim fest with the feast of Passover, where, if I can finally figure this shit out, will allow me to stop looking out the window and instead, in the mirror for the narrow places that create the obstacles to the life I so want to be in. And by looking in the mirror, I’m not talking about the one that reflects the hundreds of lip lines, or furrows between my brows.
I’m talking about the mirror of my soul. My neshama’s mirror. To help me through the narrow places of my self-destructive and self-sabotage habits, I’m turning to the wisdom of Rabbi Yael Levy, whose daily meditations have struck a deep chord for me. I’ll start with “Healing the Hardened Heart,” which discusses that the month of Nisan is a time for healing the hardened heart – tikkun halev. The rabbi instructs us to:
· Free ourselves from stories that bind us to anger, jealously and pain.
· Let go of habits that perpetuate isolation and fear.
· Free ourselves from reacting with harsh judgment and distain.
· Let go of ways of being that keep us from seeing the beauty in each other.
· May the healing of the heart help us enter into full and expansive connection with each other and the unfolding of all life. (https://mishkan.org/healing-the-hardened-heart)
Passover is a time of replacing the puffy food substances that we take for granted, and instead eating unleavened bread - in my case, unleavened gluten-free bread - as a way of digesting the meaning of the Exodus out of Egypt. That puffy-ness represents the place of habit, of ego, of behavior patterns that need attention and healing. For me, the healing exists in the conversations I have in my mind that perpetuate anger and arguments. Healing exists in my strange need to live and create drama. Healing exists in the behavior that keeps me from feeling true connection.
But I can't do that in a New York minute. I may not even be able to do it in the Passover week. But at least, with humility and hope, I can start.
Today, as I enter into Passover, may I start to shine some light into the narrow habitual places that only perpetuate loneliness, alienation, and isolation. May my freedom begin in my heart and extend out to my beloved children, my spouse, and my community.
To the work it takes to begin the process of personal freedom. May it heal our individual and collective hearts.