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Friday Dispatch: I Decided to Love It
Some questions for the threshold
”Every ending cycles us back to a new beginning, and every beginning contains resonances of where we’ve come from.”
~ Rabbi Adina Allen
Yesterday, I attended the Rosh Hashanah edition of “Have You Made Art About It Yet?” led by Rabbi Adina Allen of the Jewish Studio Project. In her beautiful opening words, she spoke about the “bounty of beginnings and endings” and the “nectar of potential.”
Rosh Hashanah begins a week from today at sundown. This holiday is also known as the birthday of the world. It’s a joyful occasion, the start of the new year. But because we’re talking about Judaism, it’s a layered joy, infused with nuance and an invitation to reflect.
We will dip apples in honey – bracing, crisp, sweet, luxurious. We will be called to consider where we’ve been and what we hope to grow and contribute in the coming year.
One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about this year is how the holidays and the liturgy don’t change, but we do.
How am I a different person from who I was a year ago?
What am I bringing this year that is new?
What has healed?
What am I still working on/with?
What have I let go of and what is still unfinished?
Where does gratitude live in me and how do I express that?
What am I asking for and of whom?
Before we moved into the 20 or so minutes of solo art-making time, Rabbi Allen invited us to set an intention. This, she explained, could be “like a prayer that has already been answered,” phrasing that delighted me.
She provided a list of prompts: I find… I receive… I feel… I release… I open to… I discover… I hear…
Now, I should tell you that this kind of thing sometimes sends me directly into my head, where I overthink the “answer” and struggle to land on something organic and from the heart. I have a similar response to art-making, one I imagine many people feel when sitting down to write: I momentarily freeze. I don’t know what to do, where or how to start.
“I am not an artist,” I think.
Then I remember my own words: We are all poets.
We are all artists.
We are all human, which is to say inherently creative.
“I find peace, I release fear, I open to joy.”
I wrote those words in my journal, then slid open my desk drawer and took out the small stencils from a public library giveaway over the summer. Start here, I told myself. Start anywhere.
As 100+ people on the Zoom embarked on their own creative time, some ambient background music playing, I lowered my screen and began, one letter at a time. After I finished playing with the stencils, I turned the page in my small sketchbook and started drawing – first three apples that looked more like tomatoes, then a tree trunk and branches and a scribble of yellow meant to be honey and golden fall light, and messy red and orange lines as leaves. It was fabulously childish. I say this without self-deprecation. My drawing looked like something little me might have brought home proudly from my first day of preschool.
I decided to love it.
Most importantly, for 20 minutes, I had fun! I felt relaxed and present and pleasantly focused.
I found peace.
I released fear.
I opened to joy.
Would ya look at that? ;)
It is one thing to coach and encourage others in setting a timer and simply writing words. It is quite another to engage in a similar practice myself, in a medium that comes much less naturally to me. (Writing this makes me smile.)
I come to you today from the space between old and new, known and unknown, past and future. Together, we can stand here at this threshold. We can ask for what we need without attachment to what we might receive. We can tether our intentions with actions, and we can also release the need to make everything happen ourselves, thus opening to unexpected sources of support and help. We can touch into our resourcefulness, without the white-knuckling of doing everything alone. We can return to the things we love about ourselves the most, the parts of our life that feel sun-kissed, and – just maybe – let that light fuel our faith that even the jagged, mismatched, unwanted stuff has its place and will sort itself out in time.
What is ending?
What is beginning?
What if you spent 20 minutes today – or 10, or 8, or 5 – writing or drawing or tracing or just spacing out, with no attachment to the outcome?
What if that time could be a bridge?
I invite you to spend some time with yourself today or this weekend. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or formal. Just play with it and see what happens.
Shabbat shalom and love,
p.s. There is still time to sign up for Sunday’s workshop, Writing Into the Days of Awe.
Sunday, September 10
Open to all
*if finances are a barrier and you’d like to participate, please drop me a note
September is also for new desk arrangements. Here’s one from puttering a bit this week, featuring a badass card Aviva wrote to me a year ago in Paris but just gave me last weekend, a picture of my babies, a reminder to always do my f*cking job, and two tiny bowls, because containers matter, no matter how small.