Interlude: Reflections in Holiness

From a former ‘Bad Girl’

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Springtime cuts me yearly like a sharpened knife. Summer approaches, my insides spill out like slithery black papaya seeds and I have nowhere to hide. 

Miami’s atmosphere grays, bloats and relinquishes rain speedily;the air is fuller and the streets are emptier. Midday sun is a burn hazard, several friends recently reported blisters.

My best creative work is produced in the heat because I have no choice but to sweat my consciousness onto paper. This comes not from a desire to, but from an annoying need to share. 

Scattered thunderstorms are an unreliable weather report, water inches up my tires as streets flood, and I wish I could disappear.

But the papaya seeds, the slimy beads, fall everywhere. 

Whether in Miami or any other place, the sadness of Spring is an “opportunity” to feel; to grow and nurture and come out better on the other side.

Frequently this time of year I feel too aware of my body and I want to escape my current state, inner and outer worlds. 

I think: 

Where’s the still farm and musty-hay horses? I’m dying for the country.

Or a diamond-clear lagoon somewhere I can buy picante spiced watermelon. 

Where’s the swift relief of an afternoon hike? 

Better yet, an afternoon with someone who knows how to extricate me from myself.

“There’s a special kind of sadness that seems to come with Spring,” says Florence, and the Jewish calendar can tell you why:

  • Now we’re counting the Omer, a ritual that starts during Passover, which is effectively an ancient personal development program that outlines the attributes of creation inherent to our souls. 
  • Shavuot, the agricultural holiday which rabbis later ordained as the festival celebrating the reception of the Torah, approaches. 

With it, I recall how I became “religious.”

It’s a long story. 

It follows years of sometimes less than holy behavior and a constant search for meaning. 

I meditated (still do), listened to Buddhist talks, read the Tao De Jing and great philosophers ranging from Plato to Sartre, canonical literature, immersed by soul rock and roll, plants, people, and more. 

In 2020, the fragility of human knowledge and institutional order was confirmed. I had no reason to believe any one person or entity.

I remember being on my couch, watching Russell Brand animatedly talking about the “cathedrals of capitalism” crumbling to the ground.

Midnight Gospel was a neat exploration of a television show. Amateurs were hosting classes and group meditations about the meaning of life.

No one seemed to have toilet paper or paper towels.

It was a circus.

There were a lot of places to turn for information. None of them meant anything to me any longer.

How could anyone claiming to know anything possibly be trusted?

So, I googled the weekly Torah portion that week. And I’ve followed every one since.

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