Giving ourselves permission
by Jhos Singer
Shabbat Shalom Chaverim—
Shabbat is such a gift—and yet it’s quite difficult to accept. To take one day off—to step away from judgment and fear, resentment and animosity, ego and malice—would seem a delicious invitation. And yet most of us simply will not. Or cannot. Yet.
So what do we need to deepen our practice? Starting small sometimes helps—so, how about giving ourselves permission a few times a day to just stop? To sit down, even in the midst of a lot of activity, and breathe for a minute or two. What if we took that opportunity to wish, pray, hope or envision a healing for some one or something we normally consider odious? It’s just for a minute, and it’s private. What might shift in us, if we gave our selves full permission to be merciful, compassionate, and generous, for just a few minutes a day? Might our return to the working world of laundry and bill paying, public transportation and punching a time card be somewhat tempered?
We are in the midst of the counting of the Omer—the annual time trek from our story’s lowest valley, the floor of the Sea of Reeds, to its highest peak, the top of Mt. Sinai. Along the way we travel through many emotions and energies, and hopefully emerge with the clarity and openness to receive the magical, mystical download we call Torah. Counting the omer is deceptively simple, like Shabbat. How hard it is to simply take a moment out of our day and to notice that another day has passed? If the preponderance of Omer counting Apps is any indication, it’s harder than one would guess.
Both Shabbat and counting the Omer are patience practices. They encourage trust and faith because they are liminal periods—time between our preferred state, action. They are the negative space between the letters, without which nothing can be understood. Let’s accept the invitation right now—take a moment to breathe, trust the universe to spin without you for a moment and, in the words of the poet Marge Piercy, for a moment love the life you’ve been lent.