What has your attention? What has your time, your resources, your energy, your money, and your best efforts?
What grounds you? What roots you in this world, in your world, in our world?
Sadly, too many people seem to go through life – short and precious as it is – distracted, harried, and scattered. Ungrounded, unrooted – many folks are simply diverted from shiny thing to shiny thing, from pressing need to pressing need, and from crisis to crisis. And then we die.
Our sense of place in this world – not in some world to come – is vital for our soul’s health and thriving. Our well being – spiritually, emotionally, intellectually – requires that we understand our place in the bigger picture, that we appreciate our interconnectedness, and that we ground ourselves in nature’s rhythms, cycles, and seasons.
Valuing such insights is one reason why many neopagan groups have grown so quickly and why nature-based spirituality is undergoing a revival. Underlying much of the talk of spells, herbs, and circles is an appreciation of remaining attuned to the world around us.
We lose our way without a sense of place. We feel empty without feeling our connections to others. We can only thrive in relation to our brothers and sisters thriving.
Nature provides an important role in our rootedness. Not only are we grounded in other’s lives, but in our local ecosystem, in the agriculture of our communities, in the seasons we all experience, and in the cycles of nature outside our windows.
The lilacs are blooming in my yard and I almost missed them. The grass is transitioning through its dozens of shades of vibrant green – and I barely noticed.
Such observations are not merely a luxury, they are essential to our mental and spiritual health.
Judaism has tools and practices to help root us in our local worlds.
The Jewish Wheel of the Year – the Jewish calendar and its cycle of holidays correspond with the unfolding of the seasons – at least in most areas. Passover is about our liberation, but it’s also perfectly timed to express our liberation from the dark and cold of winter. Rosh Hashanah is a time of renewal and reflection – how appropriate it occurs at the start of autumn, a time of turning inward and a time of self-examination. And Hanukkah takes place in the darkest time of year – to which the best response is lighting candles and increasing the light.
Rosh Chodesh – the celebration of the New Moon. Most Jews no longer pay attention to the lunar cycles. But doing so can help us, even if only somewhat, understand our place in a bigger system of ongoing change and transitions. New moon celebrations – even simple ones – can serve as markers in time, asking us to pause, reflect, and view our lives from a bigger perspective.
Counting the Omer – as I discussed in my last post, this long neglected observance also can help us become more mindful of what’s happening around us, increasing our awareness and mindfulness by simply counting days and looking around us.
Shabbat – week in and week out – observing the Sabbath is an exercise in establishing a rhythm to our days – so that each day doesn’t simply blend into the next, in a blur of passing time and mundane happenings.
There is a season for everything – a time and place under the sun for all things. Judaism is rich with observances and practices – easily adaptable – that can help us feel rooted in this world – and perhaps the world to come.