I had weird dreams last night. Somehow, they involved a client negotiation, a forced Muslim baptism (is there such a thing?) and the Syrian Civil War, which apparently I was in the midst of.
And I woke between 3 and 4:30 am – when I should have risen in what is known in yoga terms as the Amrit Vela, the ambrosial period of the day when meditation goes deepest. I should have gotten out of bed and done my early morning meditation then to spark what I’m sure will be an interesting day.
I didn’t. I went back to sleep and somehow, the awkward and frightful dreams picked up where they had left off. When does that ever happen?
The upside of this bizarre story is that I awoke this morning feeling incredibly grateful.
Do you realize how lucky we are to live where we live? To have the freedom of travel and thought and religious observance? To walk down a street and think what we think and decide to turn right or left and no one nudges us – or pushes us – the other way?
I know all of us at some point in life utter such words of gratitude, but I’m not sure any of us really feel it deeply. After all, we were born here in the land of plenty, living far above the poverty line, with incredible choice and support and opportunity.
So how can we really know?
In the dark of the night, when we dream things that are mystical and urgent, we can feel that sense of desperation, that plea, that fear of what lies ahead. I know dreams are releases of emotions and angst and deep-seeded unrest. So thank God for dreams.
But also, thank God for … everything.
I remember back when I was religious, I tried to force myself to pray in the morning. Women are not obligated (just encouraged) in the Jewish daily prayers (because we have to answer to the children first and foremost). Still, I felt I should reclaim that feminist part of me and do my share.
I remember swaying in an east-facing direction and muttering the poetic words from the prayerbook, the words proscribed by centuries of male rabbis and deemed appropriate for me to say in reverence. I couldn’t get into it. I tried, believe me I tried.
But I didn’t feel close to God. It felt forced. Someone else’s approach. Someone else’s words. Someone else’s definition of reverence.
Now, I’ve been meditating every morning for nearly two years and I cherish that time greatly. On the days when I meditate twice, it’s like I’m flying to the moon on a magic carpet. Seriously. That’s the power of going deep and going within and letting life unfold.
So here I am meditating and practicing a reverent interfaith perspective, while still being deeply Jewish, and what I am finding is that I am so thankful – to God! – more than ever before.
What’s that about?
A simple silly dream at night and I wake up thanking the Lord. A quiet incense-infused morning meditation before the dawn and I feel thankful to the Creator. I write a book on the holiness of bread. I am asked to speak to church groups.
I live a life of gratitude and reverence and didn’t even see it coming.
Sometimes when we try hard to be religious, we end up confusing everything. We live an upside down path, like bats, getting caught in the hair because we’re so blind. They really don’t mean it. And we’re so afraid that they’ll fly close and get caught in us.
When we just let go and let the inner voice speak and listen closely to it, well, that’s another story.
That, my friends, is where reverence lives. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.