I'm trying to count the Omer this year. I'm doing better than in the past; I missed just one day at the beginning, and have been reading and thinking about each day's kavannah, spiritual intention. Saturday night, the beginning of day 10, was "Tiferet of Gevurah," compassion in discipline:
Underlying and driving discipline must not only be love, but also compassion. Compassion is unconditional love. It is love just for the sake of love, not considering the other's position. Tiferet is a result of total selflessness in the eyes of G-d. You love for no reason; you love because you are a reflection of G-d. Does my discipline have this element of compassion?
Exercise for the day: Be compassionate to someone you have reproached.
How is it that we sometimes hear exactly what we need to hear? Hamakom hazeh: God is in this place, and it's easy to stumble past without noticing. I read this Omer paragraph after returning from dinner with some members of my family whom, over the past few years, I had seen only at funerals. We decided to change this habit, which arose not only because the entire generation of our parents had reached ages where death is an unfortunate inevitability, but also because we had stopped trying to do anything else. We were tired, complacent, not yet willing to take responsibility for making plans that had been the jobs of others for so long.
Not everyone made it to the dinner. But one important person did, and she and I were really happy to see one another. Then we started to talk, and I felt like I was falling into an abyss. I wanted to crawl out as fast as possible, and run away. We had lived through the same events, she and I, but had come away with different conclusions—and hers, in many ways, reflected answers I had chosen not to believe. I've learned to live with and find goodness and redemption in my interpretations. Neither of us can know the truth; all the original players are gone. But I realized on Saturday night that she still carried those ghosts with her on a daily basis, whereas I've put them where they belong: not out of my life, but away, safe, in a place that lets me change, grow, and forgive.
I know she wants to revisit the source of her pain, and I do not. I'm content to know that our small group can acknowledge that we've grown and changed since childhood, and can relate to one another in new ways. That's not enough for her, which makes me angry, because with acceptance of her presence in my life comes the inevitability of future pain. This makes me angry and resentful. Enough already.
So I came home and started to cry. Then read the above kavannah, and realized that although I had every right to be frustrated, I also needed to temper my feelings with compassion. We're all at different stages of our journeys, and she has a ways to go. Being a part of it will be challenging, and I'll need to tread carefully and with gevurah, be strong and disciplined, and protect myself along the way--but always in the company of tiferet. I can do this.