Last night our sukkah (and our home) was filled with our wonderful and growing community. Lulav was waved, wonderful food was shared, fellowship was everywhere, and Ushpizin was enjoyed. If you have not seen Ushpizin, I highly recommend it (I believe Netflix still has it). It is a movie from Irael and is about a Hassidic couple, Moshe and Mali, who have nothing but each other–no money, no child, and no sukkah for the festival.
When Moshe is in the group of men from the yeshiva who is given no money for the week, he shares a friend’s thought with his wife . . . . If you have not, it is because you did not ask God, or you did not ask enough. As he heads to take a nap, his wife redirects him to prayer. She is reading and praying through the Psalms, he is pouring out his broken and contrite heart to the Lord, and at the height of both, let’s just say there is a Sukkot miracle.
The story is lovely. The people are wonderful (even my children were saying last night, “I could see you doing what she’s doing,” and, “I could see you wearing that.” ) And as one friend pointed out, she loves the movie because every time she watches it, she learns something new. I absolutely agree!
There are lessons about prayer, faith, friends, what it really means to face a test from the Lord, the need for a man to focus on keeping his wife happy (a really big theme through a lot of Rabbinic writing that, as a woman, I find so validating and beautiful). And what struck me last night is the reality that we are who we are, and we are where we are, and the only way to advance on the journey is to face what is before us with obedience to the Lord.
So often, in Western thought, we seem to set these lofty goals and then try to find short cuts there. Very early in my marriage, for instance, God told me it was time to rest. I started out by cutting half of the 14 active ministries from my schedule. I worked on taking naps. I did lots of practical (and, yes, part of the journey) things, but God kept telling me to rest. I finally admitted I didn’t know what that means, or how to do it. And humility started me on the actual path (not just clearing things up back at home so I could start down it ).
Since then God has been teaching me about Sabbath, and about what is cultural regarding rest versus what He means by it. He has allowed my body to be driven to the point that I have learned major lessons, blessed is He. And He has brought me movies like Ushpizin so that, when I was ready, I was able to see other lessons without learning them the hard way.
I have moved from the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, or vowing to do X perfectly because now I know, and I have realized that each day must begin with resolution and the humility to accept that I will never do X, or Y, perfectly because I will never fully understand either. Doing is the response to the test, and we can only do what we already know. So each day I now strive to live consistently with my convictions in the face of whatever I encounter. I seek to be consistently me–who I am and where I am–and to obediently respond to what God allows, or brings, before me. That is my little part of the bigger picture.
And for the first time, I feel like I am resting–much of the time, anyway. I put less things on my schedule, I am more realistic about the constructs of time, I stop and refuse to feel guilty when I am sick or recovering . . . I allow life to take the time it needs, and I move within it. I no longer try to be master over it. I leave that to God . . . and when I’m not trying to carry His responsibilities, my life is much less burdened.
So today, this Shabbat, rest where you are. If the choice to work is presented to you (and you’ll know, because you’ll be aware of it) make the right choice. If you start to feel stressed about time, remember that you are not Lord over it. And if you think of all of the things that are going undone, or the things in the rest of your life that remain unresolved, remind yourself that there is tomorrow to examine them, and today has another purpose. Rest is, in one sense, fasting from the stresses of life. When we make it another stress, we miss the point.
HaSameach and Shabbat Shalom. May you be richly blessed today.