Monday, May 17, 2010

Standing Again at Sinai: Reflections 2010

This year, the Rosh Hodesh group at Congregation B'nai Israel was inspired by Merle Feld's spiritual memoir and poetry collection, 'A Spiritual Life.'  We dipped in to read many of the prose narratives and poems, adding our own personal stories to hers.  Inspired by her writing, we sought out and found the spiritual in everyday life, and found how our own everyday lives were enriched by the cycle of the Jewish year and ritual practices.  Last month, we read one of her most well-known poems, We all Stood Together.  Another author, Chava Weissler, wrote a response to this poem a number of years ago, which you can read here.  Taking these two sources as our text, the women in the group described their own 'Standing at Sinai' moment.  On the day before Shavuot, when we stand again at Sinai to remember and receive Revelation, I share some of these creative pieces with you.

I'm standing at Sinai.  I feel isolated and left out.  I'm supposed to feel something that everyone else is feeling. I don't.  Is there something wrong with me?  I fake it, so I don't stand out.  I'm 12.  I feel little.  Maybe some day, when I grow up, I'll fit in better.

A young woman, I danced with Miriam at the shores of the Red Sea.  And I look up to Miriam as a friend and mentor.  And now I follow her to the foot of Mt. Sinai with curiosity and eagerness.  I find the trembling of the earth and noise overwhelming.  It's awesome.  I feel that the God that Miriam spoke about is present.  I am excited and afraid at the same time.  

I am a 50 year old woman and I am taking my place up front, not only for myself, but for the other women and those on the margins in order to witness God's message.  I feel, though, not totally a part of the community.  I am only observing, contemplating the happenings; communing with God.

My children cling to me, and I am afraid they will be lost in the crowd.  I keep them close as we women proceed slowly, surrounded by our children, always worried - do they need food or drink? Will they stay close?  The oldest may stray.  I remind her to watch her little brother.  Maybe I will hear the message too.

I'm standing next to a friend.  But we're not talking.  We're comforted by the security of knowing the other is standing there next to us.  I'm trying really hard to understand - to comprehend the moment.  But I'm confused.  The sounds and sights are disorienting, and I can't figure out what the essence of this Revelation is. Should I close my eyes and let the sounds wash over me?  Will I find enlightenment in the stillness in the midst of the chaos? Or have I misunderstood? Perhaps the essence of Revelation is about what we're all doing here together - perhaps its all about this mass of people.  Perhaps I should open my eyes and take in who we all are - is it the connections that invisibly bind us all together that is the true essence of Revelation?  Eyes open or eyes closed? Sight or sound? Inside or in-between?  I'm hear the sights and seeing the sounds.  Perhaps it is all ECHAD - ONE.

The skeptic:  What is going on here? What's with the pushing and the shoving?  We've been shlepping around for years and nothing happens and today we're supposed to Get the Message? Yeah, right.  I'll get the news second-hand.  Why ruin my shoes?

The mother with two absent boys is thinking of others - while the business executive wants the mother to fully experience and the mother with three little children says she is too busy and can't fully benefit.  While I am deeply emotional and hope to have the answers for the rest of my life.

I am hiking.  I stop.  Here.  This is the place.  Picking up a stone, I stare at it.  Everything is here.  Holy, holy, holy.

I am afraid of the unknown.  We are foreigners in someone else's land.  The immenseness of the place is overwhelming. I'm a stranger in a strange land.

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