During our Passover Seder this year, my father gifted each of us with a handwritten card. Upon it, a psalm that begins with the first letter and ends with the last letter of our Hebrew names. The psalm for my Hebrew name, Rivkah, comes from the Shema; the first and last prayer recited each day.
Tremble and sin not, commune with your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah (Amen). ~Psalm 4:5
Ri’g’zu v’al techeta’u lmru ve’l’vavchem al miskav’chem v’domu selah
When I say the Shema, I recognize the gift of my soul entering my body each morning, and celebrate the returning of my soul to G-d each night. I acknowledge the blessing to live every day, guided by the illuminated shade of G-d’s forgiving accompaniment.
With the rise of the sun, my shadow appears: how will I walk through life today? And as night falls, my shadow vanishes; I reflect on how I’ve chosen to walk through life that day.
Tremble and sin not…
Over the years, I’ve maintained a distant relationship with my shadow, like a neighbor you see from time to time, pulling the trash can to the curb on Mondays, or driving by on her way out in the evenings. I nod and wave; separated by a tumultuous sea of fear, a fear of intimacy, of making our connection real and true.
I’ve hidden my shadow in the crowd, cowering behind others, becoming more acquainted with their shadows than my own. And then, trembling, terrified of losing control, of being understood, of being loved and loving, I run away from those shadows. As a result, I’ve found myself time and time again, in a savage storm of confusion and loneliness, far from love.
Loving is a simple action: accepting others as they are and the arrival and departure of their shadows, without the need to covet them or chase them down. But, loving is not easy if I can’t bear the sight and presence of my own shadow.
I made a vow to myself, that I would get acquainted with my shadow and love her. It has been overwhelmingly uncomfortable to allow her to lead each day, as I stand here shaking, exposed in this radiant solitude. I’ve reckoned within myself, that until I can stand with my own shadow, I cannot stand beside another’s, with the ability to love and be loved, which I’ve concluded is my soul’s sole purpose.
I tremble, and I am not running.
I tremble, and I am not hiding.
I welcome her each morning and I say goodbye to her each night.
I will not deny her presence.
There is no escaping her; there is no escaping G-d; there is no escaping.
Each day, I try to heal; I try to be better; I try to sin not; I try to be humble; I try to be kind;
I try to respect the shadows of others; I try to love to the best of my abilities each day.
Some days I succeed. Some days I fail.
Commune with your heart upon your bed…
What will happen tomorrow? I don’t know.
What have I done today? It’s done.
Forgive. Ok, forgive.
Grieve. Ok, grieve.
Unwept pain pours, and she remains faithful, unwavering.
The heart is incapable of abandoning, even in this: in this un-crowding of my life, the loss of shadows, not mine, not meant.
They might call this the dark, the void.
But, I see is light here, spaciousness.
There’s room for love to come
And be still…