When I was younger, playing at Disneyland, we went on all the classic rides, and also bought “E-tickets.” They cost triple and guaranteed more screams and thrills. I carry in my pocket more computing power than first took men to the moon, so I’m sure that 1970’s special effects would seem as hokey now as 1950’s effects did then.
But E-rides challenged you. They took away your sense of time and space. Hard to hold onto small-ego You while hurtling though darkness at strange angles, lasers shooting all about, heavy metal blasting. One either retreats into denial or the boundaries between self/other get much thinner very quickly.
We’re at the gate on one of Judaism’s E-rides. In the rhythm of the sacred year we move between slow times and deeper, more intense, periods. We do have the seventh day metronome of Shabbat, tick-tocking like a heartbeat, to keep us grounded. But now we’re entering a bigger set of sevens. Seven weeks of meditations on aspects of the divine as reflected in self. Time to take a hard look, to see where you’re getting things right, and where you’re not.
All your New Year’s vows and promises, sacred and secular, are past. Most of us had just settled in to appreciating nature’s budding and blooming. Daffodils and birdsong. Feeling renewed without much stress or effort. Life was gonna coast happily.
Now comes Passover. The retelling of the exodus from slavery. We’ll land at the foot of Sinai once again. But this time, instead of brisk walk, we get fifty days to walk the path, one step in front of the other, one day at a time.
This process is called The Counting of the Omer. It’s the kind of thing that introspective people long for. A mandated and validated form of navel gazing. We meditate on the lower seven positions (sephirot) on the Tree of Life. Each an attribute of the divine, and an attribute of self as we mirror the divine. We meditate on them in succession:
Week 1 Chesed: unconditional loving-kindness
Week 2 Gevurah: restraint, justice
Week 3 Tipheret: beauty, harmony compassion
Week 4 Netzach: energy, zeal, endurance
Week 5 Hod: glory, splendor, creativity
Week 6 Yesod: foundation, possibility
Week 7 Malkuth: living in the earthly kingdom with our inner spark aglow.
You can do it alone or you can pair up, with someone you know very well, or someone you want to. You can study, share, articulate, open, and generally clean yourself out, one to the other. This kinda study- buddy system is chevruta. It can be two people or more. But think intimacy.
Can you find ten minutes a day for seven weeks starting Saturday evening/Sunday? If yes, I promise you’ll be different on the other side. Can’t say how. Pretty sure for the better. Definitely softer and more peaceful. You don’t have to do anything more than breathe and open your heart, thinking about the attribute. No giving up gluten or sugar or checking your email when you get twitchy. You just have to show up and listen.
Got your E-ticket? Get on board.