When one disappears, for whatever reason, the others are sure to follow no matter how much I want them to stick around. And when that smoldering ember suddenly explodes into white-hot passion, for reasons I’m still unclear about, I know the others will return, too.
The question for me seems to be how to get a more moderate but consistent burning, rather than the simmering coal suddenly becoming a blazing inferno. And is that even what I want or what’s best for me?
I’ve had a number of spiritual famines, where I go through the motions – or occasionally I don’t – and I wonder if it matters. If any of it matters. I’ve also had just the opposite, where davening brings me to tears, learning Torah evokes such a longing that it’s physically painful yet wonderful at the same time, and I wonder if any of us (myself included) have even the slightest clue just how incredibly lucky we are to have the abundance and intensity of opportunities that we do to approach the Divine.
I’ve just recently come out of one of those famines, a place of desolate frustration and aloneness, where every attempt to move forward has me banging my head against a prison wall. The past few months have seen some very nice things happen business-wise, and the publisher side of me is very pleased. But the creative writer, the musical mystic, the collaborative that forms my Jewish soul was unfulfilled and in danger of stagnation.
How to flip that switch, light the flame, stir the creative passions, I still haven’t figured out yet. It’s not something I can do at will right now. Rather, it’s something that I simply must accept as it happens, and then find a way to turn acceptance into joy, trusting that there is always an end to the famine and a way out on the other side.
It’s no wonder, then, that I’m throwing myself into the things I love: writing, music, prayer, study, and that my children are picking up on it, too. Oldest Son (almost 6) is excited about bentching before we even start a meal and asks to daven with me in the morning. He’s even willing to give up PBS Kids for twenty minutes of prayer. Youngest Son (3-1/2) isn’t willing to go that far, but he’s recently decided – on his own – to wear a kippah all the (day) time and say b’rachot for everything he eats. Everything.
How truly fortunate we are to have the opportunity for such a relationship with G-d. No intermediaries, no prerequisites, no tests of worthiness. Just show up and do your best.