Thursday, April 21, 2005

56. Walking

(Interrupting the story.)

I've just finished taking a few meditation classes, a new thing. Among other exercises, we spent time walking: no particular path, no destination, just back and forth in the room, focusing on the shift of our weight or the moment when one foot touches the floor and the other begins to lift up. It was a challenge to concentrate on the smallest elements of the process and push away all other thoughts; my brain is usually engaged in various frantic dances. But I recognized this kind of calm. It's how I feel when I'm chanting Torah, as the path is being shown to me by the words in the scroll and the yad, the pointer, that leads from one to the next. I have no choice but to focus on what's there, one word at a time. Leaping ahead will get me nowhere. I need to be fully in the present, with a still, quiet mind.

The Hebrew word for Jewish law is halacha, coming from the root for "path." I used to think it meant that the path was defined, so I must try to follow it. Now I understand that it's more like the meditation exercise--finding my way by walking, exploring my world until I happen to leave the grass and stumble upon the road. And, once I'm on it, enjoying the journey one step, one word at a time, honoring what will come and what has passed, and not worrying too much about where I'll end up, because I can't possibly know.

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