hazzan Diana Brewer was ordained through the aleph ordination program. she leads prayer services regularly at the jewish community of amherst, and is on the staff of the davvenen leadership training institute.

Omer Day 30 גבורה שבהוד Gevurah SheBeHod

Sunday, May 19

Boundaries. Strength. Structure. Discernment. Withholding. Judgement within Space. Amazement. Gratitude. Receptivity. Presence. Humility. Splendor. 

While I love abstractions and analyses as much as the next nerd, I am even moreso a fan of what Reb Zalman (z”l) might call Blue Jeans Spirituality. As in, “What does this have to do with my very concrete, perfectly untidy, definitely not idealistic life?” So, back to something a little more personal after a couple of days of, well, less-so.  

Parenting, that bottomless well of fertilizer for spiritual growth... 

As if just being 2 months shy of 13 weren’t enough hard for one young soul to deal with all by itself, as I’ve shared, my poor kiddo is also dealing with an injury that has totally altered her life during her 6 week period of healing. Further, as I’ve also shared, there is no way of knowing if this will actually heal, or whether it will become permanently life-altering. On top of that, she is having mysterious stomach trouble, which has prompted an appointment with a GI specialist. Yeah, things are a little tender around here. This is the backdrop for my contemplation of Gevurah SheBeHod tonight.

As she struggles, I find myself - on one hand - full of compassion, making Space in my heart to be Receptive to her experience. On the other, I dip into frustration and anger with her tendency to lash out when she is vulnerable. It wears thin. A long-time, beloved spiritual guide of mine encourages me to “meet her where she’s at.” Even as I drink in this direction, which she tells me she is working to practice with her 3 teenagers (to very good effect), I feel my resistance rear up. “But where are the Boundaries? Surely, she must still be held to account for unacceptable behavior?”

Another dear friend, who is within 8 weeks of delivering her first child, told me of her fear about these packages not coming with user’s manuals. I assured her that they actually do in some ways. This is especially true when they are tiny, in my experience. My daughter’s signals became very clear, very quickly. She didn’t need much - eat, play, sleep. She taught us her rhythms, and we obliged, even as they kept changing. The more Structure the better proved to be the general rule, according to her guidance.

As it turns out, yes, there are huge gaps in the manual. So, we live in a world of Hod, making Space for her to be who she is, to have her feelings and experiences. At the same time, we are in constant Discernment about how to weather the frequent storms of these uncertain days, where to draw the Boundaries. 

In contemplating Humility with a friend this morning, it came to me that one way to see it has to do with seeing oneself in context. I’m expanding that right now to seeing whole situations in context. If I can remember this idea during the hard times that are flying, I suspect my chances of properly Judging the Boundaries will go up significantly.  

Surely, allowing too much Space for whatever is racing towards us is not a balanced state of affairs. There must be some Space Withheld, kept in reserve for our own healthy functioning. And yet, with Hod in the foreground this week, I believe that staying Present to clarity of the context can provide the Structure within which to make the necessary Discernments.  

May you blessed with clarity of context. May your Receptivity be balanced with the Strength of just the right amount of Structure. 

Omer Day 31 תפארת שבהוד Tiferet SheBeHod

Omer Day 29 חסד שבהוד Chesed SheBeHod