Cultivating Patience, Rest, and Renewal

by Rabbi Audrey Pollack, April 27, 2022

Poet Mark Nepo writes:

When things fall apart, they make a lot of noise.
When things come together, they do so quietly and slowly.
And so, we often miss them.
Yet things are constantly coming together, though we have forgotten how to hear them.

– Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

When Spring arrives, the flowers and plants that we see have spent months storing up energy, growing slowly and pushing up beneath the cold hard soil, waiting for the earth to warm and soften. The tiny growth each day during those long months of winter culminates in beautiful blossoms and branches that are the result of hard work and growth, of rest and renewal. The days are getting longer and grass is getting greener, and the trees and plants are tentatively beginning to flower, baby bunnies and baby squirrels and baby raccoons are starting to come out of their nests.

As we move forward from Pesach, our Spring holiday that leads us m’avdut l’cherut – from slavery to freedom, we are counting up 7 weeks to Shavuot – on our way to receiving Torah. The cycle of seven is a significant number in Jewish time. On the 2nd day of Pesach, we begin counting the Omer, a practice that we do daily during the seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot. Shabbat, the weekly day of rest, is observed on the seventh day. And the cycle of Shmita, the sabbatical year, provides a year of rest for the land every seven years. This year, the year 5782 that we are currently observing in the Jewish calendar is a year of Shmita, a year of rest.

As we begin to emerge slowly into the Spring of 5782, the long, bitter winter that we have been living through over the past several years is still very much on our hearts and minds. We have been living through challenging times of uncertainty and adjustment, that require us to improvise, and alter our plans and our perspectives. We have been experiencing a time of great distrust and discomfort, in which the rhythms of our lives and our expectations have dramatically shifted.

This has prompted many of us to reevaluate our lives as we have been living them. What is the most meaningful way to spend our time? How have our relationships shifted? For some of us, this has been a time of enforced rest – of increased time at home, lack of travel and social obligations, isolation. Some are eager to get back to the way it was in the before times. For others, as we digest the losses and changes of our pandemic existence, we realize that we don’t want to get back to normal, that there was/is no normal, there is only now and now is different.

As the answers emerge slowly, quietly, let us listen. Take the time to see and celebrate the things that are going well. And let us also honour what is just Ok, because we are human and Ok is good too. Let’s also have patience with ourselves and one another and find strength to lift others up and to accept their offer to help lift us up too. Let us strive to be more gentle with one another We are all human beings, who are on this journey of life together, with all of our imperfections and with all of our gifts, both at the same time. Cultivate kindness, patience, and allow time for rest. Listen for what is quietly, slowly coming together.

Rabbi Audrey S. Pollack

Filed under: Rabbi's Message

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