Thursday, July 09, 2009

829. Engaging

It's so nice to do nothing. Although I'm not exactly thinking of nothing (the curse of wireless, unlike the days when I went to summer singing workshops and was completely without phone, TV, or newspapers for a week), sitting with my laptop on a chaise lounge in a Victorian-style living room is about a stress-free as one can get indoors, without meditating. (It's a little too chilly for the beach, unfortunately.) If I had lots of money, I'd come up to Marsh Cottage for a few weeks and write a book. I don't know what about, but it almost doesn't matter; this lovely space is made for that purpose.

I'm looking at my notes about blog posts to write when I have time, which is now, and see that they're not very cheery. (Hoping this vacation will help change that.) One reads:

"My cousin wanting to pray all the time—is that really Jewish?"

I have a dear ba'al teshuva cousin who recently posted on Facebook that she doesn't follow the news or popular culture and chooses instead to spend her free time (what little that remains after raising three small children) praying or reading psalms. I would never think of asking if she believes this is what God wants—but will post the rhetorical question here, for myself to ponder while watching ocean birds fly and smooth stones shimmer under the mirror surface of a pond. I don't think God can "want" as we define the word, but do believe our role in the universe is to act, and not just wish, ponder or praise. I love prayer, but life needs balance—just like the symmetry of creation, day and night, good and evil, work and vacation. Our lives are mostly spent at the midpoint of those poles but sometimes, if we're lucky, they tip in the good direction and we get to experience the most beautiful parts of what God created. I believe the likelihood of those moments is in proportion to how much we engage with the world. I understand that my cousin does this in many different ways as part of her amazing role as a parent—but teaching her children, by example, about the world beyond their immediate community is just as important, and as Jewish.

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