It's the first day of the Omer -- the spiritual journey of counting the days between Pesach and Shavuot, between freedom and revelation. Here's what I posted at my congregational blog for today (I won't cross-post all of these, but wanted to share the first one here too -- if you want the next 48 days, you can subscribe to the Omer tag or choose that blog's "follow blog by email" option, in the sidebar.)
Lovingkindness within Lovingkindness
The first week of the Omer is the week of chesed, divine lovingkindness. It begins with the day of chesed within chesed, lovingkindness squared.
This is the week for reflecting on how love manifests in our lives — divine love, and also human love which is (in my understanding) a reflection and refraction of the love God feels for us. Chesed is limitless love, limitless kindness.
This week we ask: how can I be kinder and more loving? To those I meet — to the people I know, and the people I don’t know — to those who agree with me, and even those who angrily disagree with me? How can I be kinder to myself — how can I do the work of discerning what my heart and soul most need, and then kindly and graciously filling that need for myself? Can I feel, deep in my bones, that the universe is a kind and loving place for me to be? Can I extend lovingkindness to myself, and then once I am feeling whole and healed, extend it to those I meet?
Take a moment to think about compassion and lovingkindness. Remember a moment when someone has responded to you with kindness and love. Remember a moment when you responded to someone else in those ways.
Cultivate lovingkindness today in your heart and your actions. This is the first step toward Shavuot, toward revelation, toward Sinai.
As I count the Omer, let my counting create a tikkun, a healing, between transcendence and immanence, God far above and God deep within.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ רוּחַ הַעולָם, אָשֶר קִדשָנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ אַל סְפִירַת הַעמֶר.
Baruch atah, Adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, source of all being, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.
Today is the first day of the Omer!