Sunday, August 24, 2008

Transitions

I realize that I'm facing a world of brave new changes (new home, new job, no longer a student, getting married next year, etc), and while it's thrilling and wonderful, it's also more than a little scary. In the moments when I'm more afraid than excited, I've been reading parts of Estelle Frankel's Sacred Therapy, a book Rabbi P lent me awhile ago. Frankel suggests that ancient Judaism and other ancient cultures created a space for transitions. When we symbolically remove ourselves from our old lives, we must embrace the nothingness between an old life and a new one before we can move on. In the modern world, on the other hand, we do not value the nothing-time, the ayin, but instead focus intensely on what's coming next. As a result, we do not fully remove ourselves from what we're leaving behind. We carry it with us as we embark on new journeys.

While I find this very interesting, and true to an extent (oh how I loathe the nothingness of a barren summer!), it contradicts everything I've read and felt about Judaism and memory (see the last post for quoted examples). Do we ever really want to completely detach ourselves from the past? Is it even possible to do that?

Then again, one of the reasons I love Shabbat is because it's a space between two weeks, but it is not a part of either week. It is a space untouched by time, or it is time untouched by space. Perhaps the rituals that separate Shabbat from the working week are reminiscent of the ancient rituals of transition.

I love the contradicting messages about Judaism, memory, new lives and old lives. Should we strive to let go of our past before we can embrace what's next? Or do we honor our history by acknowledging its voice in the future? It's probably a combination of all of the above, and then some. Life is rarely as clear and simple as we'd like it to be, after all.

2 comments:

Korin said...

Hey Heather, I hope you don't mind...I found your blog through Jazzie's. I wanted to let you know that I am going through a huge transition right now, and it really helped to read this post. I'm really anxious about what's coming, partially because I don't know what's coming, and it makes me forget that right now is a good time in itself. So...thanks! Hope everything is going well.

Adva Ahava said...

Hi Korin! You're welcome to read this blog at anytime. As far as I know, there are only a couple other people reading it - the more, the merrier. I'll probably start reading yours too!

The first half of summer (when I still didn't have a job, didn't know where we'd end up living, etc) was really hard. I couldn't embrace the "nothingness" at all because I was so busy panicking about the job/life situation. I think a lot of us come out of college/grad school ill-equipped to face this vast "nothing," esp because we're so used to packing our lives with coursework. Good luck, and I hope things get a little easier soon! <33