During this High Holy time, we are called to read Psalm 27. I personally enjoy Psalms in general because they are simply songs of praise. Lots of Hallelujah type stuff, which is just JOYFUL if you ask me. If you’re ever feeling really good about life (or maybe NEED to), go ahead and read a few! I have always like the idea that one should read as many psalms as possible on a daily basis. Who has time, right?
I remember one time, while I thought I was miscarrying my first born, I was praying so hard that I promised Hashem I would say my psalms everyday if he would save the baby. My promise didn’t quite stick, but we chatted about it and I think I’m okay =) Anyway, I digress.
My Rabbi has been sprinkling the daily mediations with verses of Psalm 27. Last Shabbos, I was blown away by a connection.
DAY 11 (I know how behind I am, it was a BUSY week!) I read the following:
“u’fros aleinu sukkat sh’lomecha”
(shelter us in the sukkah (booth) of your peace)
[For You hide me in Your sukkah (booth) on the day of peril. You protect me in the shadows of your tent, You lift me high up on a rock.] (Psalm 27:5)
The meditation was so simple, it’s amazing how much I was moved. The meditation was simply to repeat the Hebrew phrase over and over again and try to feel Gd’s sheltering wings, the warmth, the comfort. He also said “Not answers or solutions” – just warmth. This was quite a relief since I had been feeling so intense and exhausted from previous meditations. Now I would also like to rewind real quick to the night before; I was invited to a lovely Shabbat dinner at an Orthodox home. I was expressing to the Rebbetzin how intensely I was trying to engage in Cheshbon Hanafesh and she said to me “Don’t let it be a burden”, just let it come (I paraphrase). I, of course, responded with the “No, no, of course not” bit but then thought about it a lot when I got home. It really shouldn’t be a burden and shouldn’t be too exhausting and upsetting. Nonetheless, making Teshuva is not easy, which is why I was so pleased the next morning to find such beauty in the simplicity of that day’s meditation. To sit, and just FEEL his shelter. Punto. Nada más. As I repeated the phrase, I literally felt a warm hug around my entire being. It was incredibly refreshing. I know it’s typical to ask Gd to shelter us (from evil, from the dark path, etc) but isn’t it the simple moments of FAITH that help us take the initial steps in making Teshuva?
During that lovely Shabbat afternoon, the girls and I were playing on my bed. I asked them to repeat after me (and they did): U’fros -U’fros, aleinu – aleinu, and so on. Then I began singing it to them in the melody we sing it on Friday night services at shul. They seemed peaceful for as they listened and I continued to sing it for as long as they’d listen. Eventually, they went back to the giggling/tickling game. That night as I was tucking my oldest in, we repeated again; u’fros – u’fros… She turns to me and asks “Mami, will you sing it to me?” I MELTED.
The melody stuck with me for a couple of days. I’d sing it on the way to work; tucking the girls in. But it also started to serve as a Mantra, so-to-speak when I was nervous or scared. ELUL 15 – We were supposed to practice the “silent scream”. Well, I was stumped. I mean, the day before I got emotional offering myself as a metaphorical “sacrifice” to Gd making room for growth (!) and now a silent scream! I didn’t really know what to do. We ask Gd to listen, don’t we? I even ask him to answer me in desperate moments, but the relationship isn’t like the kind we have with each other. So how do we ask Hashem to LISTEN? Instructions were: “…imagine giving yourself over, surrendering the weight of pain, suffering, stress, etc, to God. Scream silently and breathe deep.”
Because I was confused and had no idea where to start, I began with the chant from earlier (u’fros aleinu sukkat sh’lomecha). I asked for shelter because I felt naked and scared. As I sang the melody, my hands started to face upward in a gesture of “receiving”. The melody faded and I found my breath. No joke, I started to feel the scream on EVERY exhale. A burning from my soul that was just screaming to be heard. I can’t tell you how many breaths I felt this because I was so immersed, but it moved me to tears. My body was even leaning forward as if I was literally screaming. As the tears streamed down my face, eyes shut tight, I found my hands facing downward now, looking for grounding. Grounded, I opened my eyes and faced the evening more grounded than I have felt in a while, still feeling that warm hug, the love, and the positivity.