In Shemini we’re told of Aaron’s sons who are killed instantly because they came into the sanctuary with “strange fire.” I read that and think, How can any form of worship be wrong? And so unacceptable that they’re zapped like flies on a summer patio.
I come from the “pray often, and how you want school.” In a garden, on the sofa, wherever you are now, should all be valid, if you come with deep sincerity and an open heart. Prayer is a conversation we’re always in, even if our attention sometimes lapses during brunch or basketball.
Two aspiring priests, dead: overzealous, impetuous, not mature or learned enough? I’m empathetic with their impatience. I call it my wake up thin fantasy. It doesn’t work. But I keep hoping it will, that desire will make up for what’s lacking in practice.
I accept service, compassion, and prayer as spiritual cornerstones. But too often life feels like the sign in the repair shop: There’s fast, cheap, and right. Pick any two. Because sometimes that’s all we can handle.
So what’s the right path if you’re striving to feed your soul? How can you enter your sanctuary with any incense and emerge regenerated and inspired? Even inspiring?
We’re sent here in our human birthday suits. Back to learn our lessons, day by day, mistake by mistake, peeling away the layers of ego one by one. Getting it right when we can, even if we get it wrong a coupla dozen times along the way.
Our higher self’s here getting dirt under its new fingernails while also teaching our hearts and souls. We’ve got lots to do, and it’s easy to get distracted. Some of us easily; perhaps less so for the diligent and pure of heart. To make up for our lapses, we get excited. And in our zeal to be holy, we sometimes reach for the wrong incense. Then possibly, zap, in some form or another.
In my bookkeeping of the holy, everything should count, including trying. Perhaps I’m doomed to be zapped. But I think any part of you that‘s striving for greater compassion and wisdom is on the right track. I honor a practice where intention counts as much as form. What’s required is sincerity and awareness.
I recently joined an interfaith prayer group. All spokes on the same wheel, praying for the same things. The right incense that all share is mindfulness. Is living in gratitude. Is saying thanks, to one another as well as to the unseen, for the richness and magic of our world.
It’s transformative and it works. It’ll lead you places you might not predict. To becoming a softer new you. One who’ll talk to HaShem more often, not out of fear of being zapped, but as a loving friend.
In the end, of course, we all get zapped by our own mortality. But by living with awareness and intention, we can do some good while we’re here.
Exercise: Think about your practice. What’s working and what’s not? What do you need more or less of? How’re you willing to step up? What will you do today, and again tomorrow?