A field, near where I live.
If you've looked up at the night sky recently, perhaps you've noticed that the moon is waxing. We're moving deeper into the month of Elul: the month that leads us to the Days of Awe, the last month of the old year.
There are two teachings about Elul that I want to juxtapose:
One tradition teaches that this month, "the King is in the fields."
Imagine God as a King: a sovereign, transcendent, far away, perhaps sequestered in a palace behind walls and gates and courtiers and protocols. This month, the King is in the fields: away from all of those protocols and requirements, directly available to us.
Another tradition teaches that the name of this month, אלול / Elul, can be read as an acronym for אני לדודי ודודי לי / ani l'dodi v'dodi li, "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine," from Song of Songs. The Beloved, here, is God.
This month, we can especially experience God as Beloved, as partner, as intimate and trusted friend and companion, walking with us hand in hand.
If you are so inclined, take a journey with me.
Imagine yourself walking in the fields. Feel the swish of the grasses against your ankles, hear the contented buzzing of bees going from wildflower to wildflower and crickets singing their late-summer song, smell the scent of newly-mown hay.
Imagine that you're not alone.
Maybe walking beside you is the King, sovereign of all worlds, bending an ear to hear what's on your mind and heart.
Maybe walking beside you is the Beloved, the friend to Whom you belong most intimately, listening.
What do you most need to say as you walk in the fields this morning, as we approach Shabbat, as we move deeper into Elul, as the Days of Awe draw near?
This is the guided meditation I offered this morning at my synagogue, more or less. I share it in case it speaks to you.
For more on these themes:
- Seeking the Beloved (2005)
- Riding With the King (2008)
- the poem titled Pray (2015) -- which will appear in my next collection of poems, Texts to the Holy, due in 2018 from Ben Yehuda Press.
(Speaking of which, the press is fundraising now for six new titles of Jewish poetry, including mine: check out their kickstarter.)
Shabbat shalom to all!