A lot of my spirituality comes from the idea of being told. Of instructions about everything from my karmic homework to where I put my glasses. Messages that come with a deep sense of knowing: a synchronous recognition in my head, heart, and gut. Like the puzzle piece that slides perfectly into place, it’s an awareness of direction and action that just feels right, even if sometimes it also seems challenging, or ironically simplistic. Of course I need to be listening to hear it.
Most of us get instructions for from context. From family, teachers, partners, and mentors. Verbal and nonverbal. (Insert the classic image of my mother pulling her shoulders back and square like a drill sergeant, hissing Stand up straight!) Sometimes we listen and sometimes we don’t, to our benefit or peril.
The reading’s about the construction of the miskhkan, the portable ark the Jews will carry through the desert. It acts as home base. A place for people to gather and listen, and for HaShem to communicate with them. Such a fascinating contradiction between the core idea of indwelling spirit (our holy spark) and the need for a special site for God to visit and instruct.
I recognize and respect sacred spaces, from the comforting hush of formal sanctuaries to the hidden magic of ancient painted caves. But I prefer the idea of a portable sanctuary that’s in me. A beacon emitting the Help me, Teach me, Thank you signal the way the SETI Project sends earthly transmissions to whoever’s out there listening.
My word for that inner mishkan is HaMakom, a God-name that means The Place. Completely portable. Where the inner and outer rest within one another. HaMakom can occur anywhere in space-time. In nature or dreamtime, meditation or inspiration. It’s a conversation between worlds seen and unseen that feels just right.
No one yet knows how long they’re gonna be on the road. Making something together is a bonding exercise. Everyone contributes: money, ideas, thread.
The idea that you could make a place to invite the divine to show up is seductive. The instructions, like Noah’s ark, are many and specific. Part of the message: it takes work and time to get where you wanna go. Lots of steps. Collecting. Measuring. Assembling. Blessing. But like the old cartoon about the seeker parked outside a guru’s cave, just because you show up and ask, doesn’t mean you’ll hear anything
Atop the mishkan are two cherubs. They face one another, with a space between them. When I first heard Charlie Hayden/Pat Metheny’s album, Beyond A Missouri Sky, I was fascinated by the openness between the notes. A breath. Like an open heart, that space is our inner mishkan, our receptor site to get spoken to.
There’s lots of instructions coming. For now they’re delivered without recriminations and scolding. We’re encouraged to do good and well. Offered hope in the possibility of progress. Even its inevitability, if we listen well and choose a righteous path with an open heart.
Create HaMakom by honoring your inner mishkan. Stay open and listen well. The more you do, the better you’ll hear the answers you seek.