Today is ten days, which is one week and three days of the Omer. תפארת שבגבורה , Tiferet ShebeGevurah Beauty in Strength, Truthful Discipline.
Truthful tales of disciplining young kids right now
I had a hard time getting my kids to sleep tonight. First, I had video calls with my parents and my sister. The second call, with cousins and an aunt who is much more fun than their parents, was too much for my eldest. His feelings overwhelmed him. It was hard to get him into his PJs, hard to get him into the top bunk, and I had no clue how to get him to stop scream crying. Then his younger brother asked for a bed time story. And something about One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish relaxed him. I am beyond grateful to our family friend who started our Dr. Seuss collection.
I’m starting to tune into my kids’ emotions. They don’t have a lot of words yet for how they’re feeling. Everything about this is so disorienting and new. Yet, when they don’t think about what they’re missing, they really seem happy. They laugh and play together much better than they did when we were rushing everywhere every day. But those video calls are so darn hard. So tomorrow, we will read Right now, I am fine. And maybe they’ll even do some more coloring. This is Truthful Discipline.
We keep trying old school discipline and we keep failing. The kids screaming, us yelling or threatening to take away the few things they have left in the world. It’s a terrible spiral and such a hard habit to break. After all, authoritative punishment is something most of us grew up with. So I’m not just fighting against the habits I’ve built up in my last 6.5 years as a parent, but also throughout my life.
I don’t even like cats
Completely allergic to them. Yet something about this picture kept drawing me back in. The beautiful composition. The soulful gaze. The dichotomy — many cultures teach that black cats are bad luck, yet this sweet kitten seems to be urging us forward into a fecund tomorrow.
Giving my soul back to HaShem
I am reading a book for my High Holy Day liturgy course, Pathway to Prayer. It is definitely not the first book on Jewish prayer that I would recommend. (This is the third class in a three class series.) Though, if you have a background in attending High Holy Days and want to sink into the iterations of the Amidah, I am thoroughly enjoying it. I appreciate that the translation part incorporates explanatory information, which allows me to uncover traditional understandings of metaphors I have been wrestling with for many years.
The Amidah, Standing Prayer, is the height of every Jewish prayer service. It is comprised of multiple blessings, which change according to whether it is a weekday or Shabbat or other holy day. One of the concluding prayers focuses on thanking HaShem. One of the things we are thankful for is “for our souls that are entrusted to You (while we sleep).” The footnote for this phrase explains: The Midrash (Tehillim 25) tells us that every night a person gives over his weary soul to God, and He returns it each morning renewed. It is concerning this that we say the brachah of “Elokai Neshamah” each morning.” (Rabbi Mayer Birnbaum, p25.)
I had learned this concept in Tefillah I, which is devoted to understanding the traditional weekday morning service. Yet, something about these words in this time deeply resonate with me. I am so anxious about my weary soul that I seek out distractions from sleep every.single.night. I even seek distractions from meditating into writing this blog post. Yet, if I could sink into giving my weary soul back to the soul of the universe while I sleep, perhaps I could make a good night’s sleep as much a part of my routine as I have reading a psalm in the morning and counting the omer at night.
Resting in the Soul of Souls
Do I completely believe my soul leaves my body when I dream? No. Yet, I can still find nourishment in the embrace of the Soul of Souls. The beautiful heart of reality, the unknowable mystery beyond physical being. My metaphysical body aches to disattach from the never-ending chattering of my brain. Swimming in the sea of dreams, I am renewed. May we each find spiritual and physical nourishment in our sleep. And may the beauty of discipline reach through the anxiety of these days and welcome you with loving arms.
This day was much more disciplined before COVID-19…
Books, Books, Books.
Right Now, I am Fine is a free book PDF download, available as an illustrated book or coloring book. It was written by Daniela Owen, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist. My deep gratitude to my colleague, Elizheva Hurvich, for alerting me to this resource.