Last Rosh HaShanah, I offered a short teaching to our Sebastopol Jewish community on the gifts and challenges of keva (rooted structure) and kavanah (intention, mindfulness), and offered the Counting of the Omer as a prime opportunity to explore finding ways of holding them both.
Years ago, I was deeply moved by a talk Rabbi Debra Orenstein gave on this topic at my local synagogue. She challenged us to find places within the Jewish tradition where we could connect aspects of our creative lives that we do not necessarily associate with being ‘Jewish.’ Rabbi Orenstein also encouraged us to take what is an otherwise unaffiliated practice in our lives and to root it deeply in a Jewish context, bringing a sacred container to free-flowing creative expression. She then invited us to consider the possibility that, in doing so, we could enhance both Jewish observance and our artistic efforts.
Each year, during the Counting of the Omer, I try to take on at least one new practice to deepen my experience of the inner journey in order to be of greater service in the world. Last year, I wanted to explore ways of dancing with keva and kavanah … of bringing together my love of writing poetry & crafting with natural materials, and my longing for a deep and meaningful spiritual practice. Here’s how I did it …
– WRITING OMER HAIKU: Each day (except Shabbat), immediately after reciting morning blessings upon waking, I would formulate a short Haiku poem, and then post it on Facebook. To see Daily Omer Haiku 5771, click here.
– CRAFTING OMER PRAYER STICKS: Along with others in my chevruta and in my community, we crafted Omer Prayer Sticks, wrapping intertwining crochet threads around sticks. Different ones of us used different palettes for the seven colors of the sefirot … My daughter stuck with the palette she has come to identify with the sefirot and Counting the Omer since she was two years-old, moving across the rainbow from deep pink into lavender. I used basically the same rainbow theme but with darker hues, moving from deep red to navy blue (because those were the colors that were on sale at our local craft shop!). Others used different palettes, drawing on other resources associating different colors with different directions on a medicine wheel. To see photos of Omer Prayer Sticks, click here.
– CREATING COMMUNITY OMER DANCING POLES: To see description of Omer Dancing Poles, click here.
Looking forward to seeing what creative inspiration 5772 brings!