I have been deployed to listen and accompany others to help them feel the presence of something unnameable, unpronounceable, something Timeless. To deepen and find meaning in those moments. To cry, to laugh, to wonder, to appreciate. To feel.
I call myself a Spiritual Midwife or Accompanist, but in a way, I am a spiritual voyeur. I think “oh, what a beautiful moment of God”, or “how she is uplifted by the Sacred, or “how I love to witness the journey, the movement, the aha”. And then I feel it, too. Through their experience. How delicious.
And then it happens to me. It sneaks up on me, surprises me with a whisper or a melody or a movement. It is indescribable, but I know. I know I am having one of those moments myself. I want to share it, but somehow, I know it is just between me and the Shechinah.
A voice argues with me. If I can get you to feel what I felt, maybe something indescribable will happen to you, too. And then I remember each moment belongs to the moment, not to a different one. Yet, I give in. I will try to describe it anyway.
I have been shaking/waving the lulav for many years now during Sukkot. In my sukkah, made from colorful items, photos of our family and biblical ancestors, solar lights, with homemade and found objects. Like straw walls or screens, or the large palms that fell from a tree.
I know how to say the blessing for waving the lulav, to stand facing East, to shake the lulav 3 times each time I wave it. I wave it towards the East in front of me, then to the South, to the right, then towards the West, in back of me, then to the North, to the left, then up to the Sky and Heavens, and finally down to Earth. I end with the lulav close to my heart. Six directions, and then always arriving home at the heart.
I know different kavannot that remind me there is meaning to this ritual. Of unification, feeling the Presence, acknowledging the fragility of life, dreaming of the possibility of rain. I know when we shake the lulav during the prayer songs of Hallel we are to bring the lulav close to our hearts whenever we sing the name of God (Adonai). Hodu ladonai ki tov, ki l’olam chasdo, or Ana Adonai Hoshiana, or other psalms containing the name of God. We sing, we shake to the rhythm of the phrase, always to return the lulav close to the heart at Adonai. In the past, shaking the lulav during prayer songs has always been an effort. I fumbled, not knowing how to divide up the shaking to fit each word with the melody.
This year was different. Alone in my sukkah with the Pandemic Hallel Sukkot zoom service on my Ipad, this time Something happened. I focused on only one thing. When we say the name of God-Adonai, the lulav must be brought close to the heart. I discovered that’s all that matters. Once we bring God to our hearts, everything else falls into place and the dance of the shaking does its magic.
There is no effort, just God, close to my heart.
Once I feel God close to my heart, the rest of life is just dance.