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Creating Spaciousness

14

I am daydreaming again.

Having stumbled upon the description of God’s breath hovering on the waters, my imagination has transformed me into a hummingbird. I am sitting still but my mind is buzzing.

Daydreaming is both a necessity for my writer-self and a luxury for my mother-self. It can also be a liability. Often, the open space of my dream state allows the tempest of my nightmares to overwhelm me. I am standing at the edge of a chasm, peering down at God’s breath hovering below me.

I feel light-headed: I could easily lose my balance.

Rabbi Tsvi Blanchard taught me that the ability to tolerate both the nightmare and the fantasy of my dream state empowers me to transform my fear to joy. As I embrace the truth of his teaching—my mind cannot soar higher unless it has hovered low—I struggle to discern my thoughts amid the noise of the dream. I am surrounded by chaos and nothingness.

I inhale deeply, filling my lungs with oxygen.

I exhale slowly, feeling steadier as my breath fades.

I take a second breath, emptying my mind of anxiety.

The third time, I close my eyes and hold my breath close to my heart.

Somehow, I find the strength to surrender the dream and wait in the spaciousness of the moment. As I exhale, I see my potential joy rising up like a fog lifting out of the deep chasm.

It is the breath of God hovering before me.

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Comments (14)

Oh my gosh, this is so gorgeous… I am luxuriating in your words, which are like a fertile offering to encourage my own. Beautiful.

Thank you, Fran. It is a piece from my writer’s notebook that I have been revising since December. I’ve been “journaling” as a way of healing, and I really had to push myself to share this piece. I am so grateful for your comment; you have encouraged me to continue to venture out of my comfort zone.

What Fran said. Venture forth, Pamela – good things are in front of you 🙂

I love you, my friend.

Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. Thank you.

I echo Fran. I need to read more of this Pamela. Taking it in…

Thank you, all, for your responses. I can honestly say, while taking in the “view from my porch at camp” of the fog rising off the mountain, how I look forward to what I will find in the spaciousness of the moments ahead. Life is good.

Oh Pamela, this is so beautiful. In a soulful, nearly-painstaking way.

Thank you, my friend (whatever your name is!), for helping to create the spaciousness in which I found comfort/healing to write it.

Pamela!

The topic of your poem brought back to my mind the conversation we once had about the fact that some verses in Quran are allegorical and therefor a Muslim is actually commanded to refrain from delving into their hidden meaning. I am mentioning this because although the subject of “God’s Breath” is found in the verse describing Adam’s creation, I, like all Muslims, would not attempt to give a physical picture to anything that relates to God, for humans are bound by the limits of our imagination, and God transcends time and space. To this subject the Quran says “there is nothing whatever like unto Him”.42:11

I thought that Judaism had the same teachings in regards to refraining from giving God any physical image!

Here is the verse that describes Adam’s creation: {When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My Spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him}. 15:29

Salam, 🙂

Thank you, Hounada, for sharing your thoughts and the Muslim perspective about describing God. As we have often discussed, there are many similarities between Judaism and Islam with regard to customs and rituals. However, I think this is one way in which Jews and Muslims are different. Many (though not all) Jews allow individuals more freedom to translate and interpret the text, while Muslims seem to be more concerned that the Quran (and other teachings of the Prophet Muhammed PBUH) are transmitted word-for-word without allowing individuals the authority to change/interpret them.

In general, Jews do not ascribe physical traits to God, but this reticence is a post-Maimonides influence. The Torah contains many depictions of God, including–as you mention– the breath of God, God walking in the Garden of Eden (Genesis), God’s mighty hand and outstretched arm that redeem the people from Egyptian bondage and the tablets written by the finger of God (Exodus). Beginning with the earliest rabbinic commentaries and legends, and continuing through the Middle Ages (Maimonides), we find descriptions of God and God’s actions. Classical rabbinic texts display tremendous latitude in interpretation of the biblical texts. Maimonides prescribes as a “principle of faith” that God has no form or figure, so we now view many of these early descriptions as metaphors or poetic. I wonder to what extent Maimonides was influenced by Islam to craft these 13 principles of faith; the idea that Jews needed to accept a type of catechism was seen by some as heretical.

As a post-modern Jew & rabbi, I claim certain privileges when I study text & write about God:I take advantage of poetic license and, moreover, I claim my place at the table of parshanut (commentary/hermeneutics), by studying the classical rabbinic interpretations before adding my own ideas. I hope we can keep this conversation going for many years, thereby bringing peace to ourselves and our people! Shalom/Salam, my friend.

What a beautiful piece! I particularly love this line: “Daydreaming is both a necessity for my writer-self and a luxury for my mother-self.” I also appreciated the thought: “my mind cannot soar higher unless it has hovered low.”

Thanks, JJM!

Really beautiful. Like diving into a deep pool of depth psychology – the writing is clear and simple but opens to so many meanings. It’s about the everyday and also points way beyond it. Thanks, Pamela!

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