Look What’s Coming: TorahCycle Emor

Emor 2014We talk about living in the eternal now. But anticipation adds spice to life. It’s exciting having something to look forward to. It’s good to know where you are in the immediate now of space/time. But it’s also useful, fun, and motivating to have nouns and verbs to describe the nows of the future. Their possibilities help keep us open, help us remember that more joy is possible, and help us prepare for the us we’re striving to become.

We tend to measure by what’s already happened, because even for the imaginative it’s harder to count backwards from a future we can’t predict with nuanced detail. But we’re complicated matrices of memories and habits, rituals and desires. We’re hardwired to anticipate events like birthdays and holidays, just like we tend to dig in our heels before work deadlines or dentist appointments. It’s physical as much as mental: If I say “long weekend,” your cells immediately fire up and smile; your pulse shifts up a gear, hoping for fun and relaxation.

This reading details the annual “callings of holiness.” It lays out weekly and annual cycles for being spiritually present. More than 130 days of the 365 are identified as times for various combinations of celebration, prayer, fasting, ritual, contemplation, atonement, study, making love, and giving thanks.

Economists generally use one-third of income as a benchmark for home/utility expenses. Imagine if you actually spent a third of your life in the habits and rituals of holiness. Not in a haphazard, grab-the-moment, isn’t-that-an-insightful/inspirational post or video kind of way. But in the committed, focused, sincere practice of goodness.

Studies repeatedly affirm that people with daily meditation practices are less anxious, more creative, and more compassionate. This reading outlines an annualized calendar for shifting focus from the simple daily palette of breath in and out to more complex patterns of observance.

Holidays and festivals break up the routines of our lives. They offer us chances to say thanks or ask for help in different ways. Prayer and gratitude in their many varietal forms.

I love reading Anne Lamott. She captures the essence of our relationship with the divine simply and honestly. If I could be the karmic love child of Anne and Rumi, I’d have my perfect writer’s pedigree. If you haven’t read Help, Thanks, Wow! and Stitches, buy or borrow them. They nicely summarize the importance of finding mean, hope, and repair, and using various forms of prayer as the punctuation marks of life.

That’s what the big calendar days do for us, whether we celebrate them with fireworks or shofar blasts. They help us affirm that in this now, we are witness to one another’s joy, suffering, striving, and triumphs. They help lift the daily weight off our shoulders, and reaffirm the value of silent prayer and singing songs that get in your head like cosmic earworms, humming your various chakras into time with cosmic rhythms.

Take a moment to mark your calendar with the big days coming up, from the personal to the societal, the spiritual to the familial. Mark them out the way you might an upcoming vacation. See how much depth, joy, and insight awaits you. I hope it makes you smile in anticipation.

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