See What’s Coming: TorahCycle Re’eh

Re'eh 2014The weather here has been crazy lately. Only the occasional Just f-ing too hot! But more than toasty far too often. What’s been strangest has been the mugginess. A thickness of air that makes your lungs work harder. And now, after some cleansing rain, the crisp scent of autumn.

We’re responding ambivalently. Not wanting to let go of a summer that always seems to begin too late and be too short. But also noticing that some mornings it’s just a little cool. Apples and pears are winking at us from the farmer’s market stalls. Strawberries saying good bye. And while we’re crying Too soon, too soon, there’s also an inner part that recognizes that the time for change has arrived right on schedule.

I feel this way when I drive to the coast. That moment when you smell how the air has changed. That salty under taste and shift in the wind. The edge of transition, imminent and welcoming. We’ve been preparing so long. It’s almost time.

This week’s reading talks about life in the Promised Land, the building of the Temple, and three annual pilgrimages to it. The holidays commemorate the exit from slavery, the giving of the 10 Commandments at Sinai, and the harvest festival. These correspond to a conscious re-birthing, defining the rules of daily life, and gratitude for the bounty that we’ve earned.

We’re still six weeks from the Jewish new year. There’s big potential for processing this time of the year, and a very conscious process of doing so that starts in about ten days. Yeah, yeah we’re supposed to be conscious each moment of each day. But identifying these special times, the holidays and their pilgrimages, real or metaphorical, helps keep us honest. They set us up to experience the shift as more than just a turn of the calendar page and the naming of dates.

Most of us are hard-wired for autumn and January 1 as transition times. Like students and teachers readying their school supplies, we’re subliminally getting ready for a shift of season. We don’t know how its gonna be when we get there and then. But we’re curious. And so very very close. We can see, smell, and taste it in the air, our food, and our daily attire, as well as on the calendar.

We’re not just curious about what it be like there. But how will we, I, me will be like there and then. What new parts are going to emerge, perhaps parts I’ve been nurturing and cheering on to step up and do better, take more responsibility. And also curious how older parts of my nature will shift around, find new ways of relating to one another, maybe even take a back seat.

The weekly readings get their names from their first word. This week’s Re’eh, means “see.” It comes from the choice between blessing and curses, and the designation of two mountains in the promised land to represent them. This is a great time to “see” how you’re doing as you prepare for the coming transition. To prepare yourself to choose the life of blessings that you so deserve.

Hit the Road, Jack: TorahCycle Re’eh

Re'ehThis week’s story is about pilgrimages. Literal pilgrimages. The kind we’re told to take three times a year. To Jerusalem, a word that today I’ll use to mean a special center of the spiritual universe: a moment and place in space-time where you can hook up to energies of insight and peace. You can substitute any special place of your own, but think of a pilgrimage as the journey you’re instructed to take regularly to commune with the divine.

It’s an action that supersizes whatever’s your daily practice, whether that’s sitting in quiet meditation or walking in the woods. Three times a year to carve out a chunk of time to remember that we’re here to do some holy work, to heal this planet and ourselves, to learn compassion, to practice good and free will. Three conscious opportunities to exercise them, and to enhance the likelihood that all of us can live a life of abundance and joy, however you translate those concepts.

They’re times to remember where we’ve been and where we still want to go. Where and why our spiritual energy is focused. So why wouldn’t we aim there in a fast straight line? Hit the road running and not stop till we get to go. Build our temple; live on milk and honey.

Because we’re human. And we blow it regularly. We get distracted by paying our bills or broken water heaters, by dark chocolate and summer berries, by falling in or out of love. We forget and we need help to remember.

Every time I wrestle with something, whether it’s a deep spiritual lesson or some silly life blunder, I always come back to the question: How do I live with greater awareness and greater intention? How can I wake up, and live more consciously?

The problem’s chronic, probably eternal at least while we incarnate as humans.

No matter how much good advice we get, human or divine. No matter how clear the instructions on the roadmap, we take wrong turns. Pull into dark canyons. Fall over cliffs and have to start again, sometimes after healing a broken leg or heart.

Life’s journey isn’t simply from a here to a there. We make pilgrimages to remind ourselves how we want to feel whenever we get there for real. We hope the glimpses will help us stay awake between them. Sacred art, music, prayer, and nature reinforce those glimpses.

What matters is your intention. A sincere and humble visit to wherever you find that sense of grace. An opening. Your heart open to the heart of the divine. A deep meeting of like energies. No buffers. A willingness to listen. A willingness to be witnessed and to be open to what you need to receive.

Some days you may go unconscious, or get lost. But every step on your pilgrimages will bring you a little closer to the temple of your holy spark, a little closer to your inner Jerusalem.

This week: Think about where you feel peaceful, inspired, and holy. Go there. And resolve to return and return and return.