We are amid an amazing seven week period — the counting of the Omer. Jews are commanded to verbally count the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot after nightfall each day. These days were originally connected to a harvest offering at the Temple and later became a season of semi-mourning in which some Jews do not cut their hair and weddings are not celebrated. For many, the counting of the Omer has become a time of reflection and creating connection between the redemption of Passover, the exodus from Egypt, and the revelation of Shavuot, the giving of Torah at Mount Sinai.
Counting the Omer each night allows you to take a minute at relatively the same time each day and pause. In these moments, you create a pattern of becoming fully aware of where you are at the present moment, both physically and in the larger rhythm of the Jewish calender.
During a class on Jewish Mysticism, my rabbi was talking about recognizing the rhythms of our lives and how the Jewish calender, with the flow of the holidays, serves as a the rhythm in a Jew’s life. We discussed how celebrating the same holidays year after year leads to a rhythm that allows you to revisit the same moments each time from a new vantage point. Much like the nightly counting of the Omer, that has one visiting the same general time each night but with a fresh perspective and at least slightly different position in the world.
I can certainly see the amazing pattern that the Jewish calender creates for a Jewish soul, but during the discussion, I also recognized that the rhythm is not yet part of my life. I spent at least the past four years aware of the many major and minor Jewish holidays cycling through the year, but still, this has not been the rhythm of my life. Instead, I see the place I stand now, and the past years of my intimate venture into Judaism, as a step outside the rhythm.
Each night, as I count the Omer, I acknowledge the place it has settled into the heart and how it has built a pattern into my life. At the same time, I see myself as stepping outside of the established rhythm, and value these moments as beautiful, arrhythmic instants that stand outside the ordinary arrangement of time. I look forward to the future and seeing how the pattern and rhythm of life falls into the natural rhythm of Jewish calender.
One of my favorite quotes from a song to accompany my feelings:
“I fall into your rhythm, your beauty I do fly, I rush into your melody, I linger ’till I die.” – Just a Dream (Song), Griffin House (Band)