Today is seventeen days, which is two weeks and three days of the Omer 5781. רחמים שברחמים, Rachamim ShebeRachamim, Compassion within Compassion. It is also Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day in Israel. I find it beautiful that Israelis acknowledge those who died creating and defending their country the day before they celebrate their independence day.
The heart of compassion is knowing when you need help and knowing when your duty is to help others. Let us learn from our primate cousins in the above picture.
I do not have essential wisdom on compassion to share today. I am several days behind in sleeping and do not feel like a paradigm of compassion today. Therefore, I will reflect on the key tool I know to lean into the best version of myself.
The self-reflective art of prayer
I am my best self when I make time for prayer on a daily basis. Not just chanting the Shema as I tuck my kids in bed. Beginning the day with Shacharit, the morning prayer service, can place me within the larger context and align me with my best self. This is the self-reflective art of prayer recognized in the Hebrew word for praying, הִתְפַּלֵל, hitpallel. I am not sure what is a greater stumbling block to spirit-filled Jewish prayer: whether the length of the morning service, the relatively strict order of things, or the over-abundance of kingship metaphors. One thing is certain: you do not need to completely believe Jewish prayers to participate in their recitation. Often, the act of repeating liturgical poetry will help strip away the literal alienation and help you find your way into the metaphor.
Prayer led me to this state of becoming. I did not begin with a prayer I fully believed. I spent a Saturday morning meditating into an idea that comes early in a traditional Jewish morning service: thanking HaShem for guiding us on our life’s journey. So I posited: what if I believed HaShem was guiding me in life? What would HaShem be calling me to? I realized I was the best version of myself in synagogue. And that I wanted to live into that part of myself and help others live into the best part of themselves.
It took me six years to go from that revelatory prayer to formally beginning seminary. May the leap between revelation and action be shorter for you.
Seeking towards the Source of Compassion
Blessed Source of Compassion, Womb of the Universe, may Your compassion flow through me. May I sleep enough and eat enough to stay fully present. I pray that I am able to sink into compassion for myself, for my family, and for the world.