A respectful tourist

Contemplation on the cusp

The cycle of the moon is winding down. The new month of Kislev begins on Sunday. It's almost time for new moon again.

The days leading up to Rosh Chodesh (new moon / head of the month) are considered an appropriate time for looking inward and contemplating where one is and what needs re-aligning in one's life. The a name for that practice is cheshbon ha-nefesh, usually translated as "(taking an) accounting of the soul." (Reb Goldie Milgram has written beautifully about this practice. She's talking about doing the work before Yom Kippur, but what she says is applicable to other times of year too.)

I've blogged before about the practice of taking this kind of accounting at moon-dark. Pausing to take account of who we are and where we're at is both useful and necessary. It's something we can do, to a certain extent, every night before we sleep; we can do before each week rolls to its close; and we can do it at the end of every month, in order to start the new month with a clean emotional and spiritual slate.

In Jewish tradition, learning happens in pairs. We don't beat our heads against texts solo. The traditional paradigm calls for us to wrestle with Torah, in its many forms, together. Always two people sit together with the shared text, so we can help each other understand and interpret, so we can offer one another new ideas and balanced perspectives. This is true in cheshbon ha-nefesh, internal/spiritual accounting, too. The Torah of our lived human experience also merits being studied carefully, lovingly, and in conversation with trusted friends.

The lunar month is ending. Where have you been, this last month? What have you done, where have you gone, what's been on your mind? Do your relationships (with your body, your heart, people in your life, your Source) need fine-tuning? What can you add, or subtract, to keep everything running smoothly -- to keep channels of communication open -- to feel rooted and at-home and whole?

I have a longstanding love for music that moves in 6/8 time. That meter always feels to me like a perpetual-motion machine, like the ocean -- one wave drawing back as another one rushes forth. In every breath something ends and something begins. The calendar too works this way, at least for me. One month drawing to its close, the next month preparing to be born. This moment of moon-dark is the infinitesimal pause between the first half of the measure and the second. Take a breath and feel where we are. Feel the music pulling us forward into who we're about to become.

Technorati tags: , , .