The first concept of reconciliation between siblings (or any relations for that matter) is an important process for healing in the world. While the text explains all that Jacob did ahead of time to prepare in the physical plane, (and this involved changing his plans a few times) it is hinted that there was much inner work on the emotional/spiritual plane required in order for his heart to be truly open to restorative connection. He ended up spending the night alone rather than with his family before reuniting with his brother perhaps to engage in hisbodedut and to really become clear in himself in this courageous act.
As I look around today in the world when racism still exists in the legal system and minds of many, when colonialism continues through exploitation of native people's homelands via pipelines and other atrocities, when ancient wars in the Middle East continue with increasingly cruel attacks on either side...I look closer at the circles near home and see that these trails of disconnection are all still visible in subtle forms. I recognize in myself lovingly and yet with awareness that a certain vigilance, semi-permeable boundary, incessant education, and space for inner clearing is needed in order to filter out the mass media and cogtrail that today's modern world seems to operate according to. Nights alone in these long moments of darkness and stillness may be good medicine for us all at this time. What courageous acts of reconciling can we then do?
The story of Dinah is troubling for so many reasons but particularly because of the violence and resulting retaliation against a whole community. As I reflect on some of the tragedies that have happened in our community recently here involving teenage suicide, sexual violation, and drug abuse, I know that they stem from the same wounded patterns present in biblical times. In trying to make sense of these tragedies, I feel out to the messages in Bill Plotkin's book Human Nature of the Soul, in which he points out how much of our society is run by uninitiated adults. I wonder if those who raped Dinah, those who violate others and themselves today, are really just acting out of a hurt place where they never received the acknowledgment, guidance, and responsibility they needed to transition from teenagehood to adulthood. The question then becomes how do we restore instead of retaliate? How do we help the perpetrators repair? How do we help the victims and families heal? How do we recognize the parts in our individual and collective selves that may have allowed in some mysterious way for these tragedies to occur? Granted we cannot take full responsibility for all the injustices of the world and yet we cannot NOT take responsibility either.
This weekend a young girl in our community will be transitioning into womanhood via her Bat Mitzvah. As she has been preparing and experiences the rites this weekend she will be following on a trail, that her birth tradition provides to enable her to formally step up in front of her community into a new role of community membership. Questions I pose for her to consider include: what does it mean to become a woman? What skills do you still feel you need to cultivate? Who are people who can be a support for you? What new responsibilities can you take on? What new privileges can you ask for? What niche can you create in the community? These are questions I still ask myself after continuing to learn what it means to become a woman fifteen years after my rites. Perhaps we all continue to rediscover what it means to be an adult in this modern world where discernment is needed to support the village and resist the empire. We need each other as mentors, friends, and guides to remain clear in our highest potential and most lucid form of service.
This week's parsha involves the tragic death of one of our matriarch's Rachel. Rachel was buried on the road and it is this image that I sit with this week as we enter the darkest week of the year. As I travel through the world I am noticing more and more how in becoming an adult, I have given up parts of my life to serve in a greater system I do not agree with. In order to take care of the earth, loved ones, and as much life as I can beyond immediate circles, I actually need to be very careful about how much I do leave 'the garden' to serve in the greater network because it gets sticky quite quickly. Getting in a car, using the computer, using electricity..all of these acts though done with good intentions are done on the backs of other species, in habitats of other beings, from resources better saved for next generations.
A few weeks ago Rabbi Rose asked us how our view of Divinity has changed from the liturgy we use. He listed 27 names of G-d and had us share which ones we resonate with, which ones are alien to us, which ones could we experiment with... As I play with female names of Divinity through my Kohenet training I am reminded about how much cocreating, uncovering, rewiring we can all do in helping to restore the balance of this beautiful and yet very fragile world. Rabbi Sholom Brodt shared in his visit with us how our thoughts, speech, and actions are garments of the Divine presence we channel. Our consciousness of this role, will determine perhaps how much we allow or block blessings to flow through us. As I read through teachings from Rav Kohenet Jill Hammer and other Kohenets about the role of women as temple weaver priestesses, I understand more perhaps why doing simple crafts with my hands allows me to return/remain in wholesome states. Kohenet Ma'ayana shares: the lines in the Torah: (Ex. 35:25-26) "Every wise-hearted woman spun with her hands; and they brought the spun yarn of truquoise, purple, and scarlet wool, and the linen. All the women whose hearts inspired them wisdom spun the goat hair." It seems to me that a helpful action to do during the work week for now when overwhelmed by the fragility and brokeness of the world may be to wash a fleece and pick up my drop spindle ... perhaps from here some helpful weaving can occur.