How much of your life do you spend sleepwalking? How much of your life do you spend going through the motions, carried forward by force of habit rather than any particular consciousness or will? Most of us do this, much of the time.
I wake in the morning, make the kid breakfast, get us dressed, pack our lunches, see him safely onto the schoolbus, and go to work, glancing at emails and Facebook messages all the while. Your variation probably looks slightly different, but not that different. Morning routines followed by the workday, evening routines followed by sleep.
There are good reasons why human beings routinize daily acts. Otherwise we'd be paralyzed by possibility. But the danger of routine is that we stop noticing what's beautiful, or moving, or real. Our lives become cookbook recipes from which we never divagate. We forget to add the most critical ingredients: mindfulness and heart. We move through our lives asleep.
This week's Torah portion offers us a striking example of what it might look like to wake up. Jacob rests his head on a stone and dreams of a ladder rooted in the earth reaching up to the heavens, with angels ascending and descending upon it. (Ex. 28:12) He has an encounter with God and when he wakes he is shaken: "Surely God is in this place," he exclaims, "and I -- I did not know!" (Ex. 28:16)...
Those who live in Jerusalem can pick up a print copy of the magazine; others can click through to read the column at The Jerusalem Post.