journey of awakening

Today is the first day and tonight is the second night of Passover. Tonight we begin to count the Omer, the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot, the 49 stages between leaving the place of enslavement, and standing in the place of revelation.

Rabbi Ted's book, A Journey of Awakening: Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tree of Life (for some reason, this book is crazy expensive on Amazon -- but you can find it at many bookstores), is a guide through those 49 steps (with the encouragment to travel through them at any meaningful time during the year). He writes,
"The traditional Counting of the Omer includes the following blessing, recited in the evening (or during the ma'ariv, the evening worship service), followed by the counting itself. When you are practicing these meditations during the actual days between Passover and Shavuot, the meditations follow the blessing and the counting.

"Our blessings themselves become meditations when they flow with kavannah, with "intentionality" and "one-pointed attention." Savor the blessing. Let it speak through the Heart of your Inner Silence. Be receptive to the meanings it holds.

"The Blessing Preceding the Counting
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech ha-olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu ahl s'firat ha'Omer. Blessed are You, Eternal One our God, Universal Creative Presence, Who sanctifies us with paths of holiness and gives us this path of counting the days of Omer.
The formula for Counting the 49 Days of the Omer Journey
Today is the ____ day, [comprising _____ weeks and ____ days] of the Omer."
Rabbi Ted's meditations for this time follow the flow of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, with each of the seven weeks of the journey, and each of the seven days of each week, reflecting one of the lower seven of the ten universal energies (sefirot). The first week, and the first day of the week (which is tomorrow), correspond to Chesed (Lovingkindness).

There is much more explanation and guidance in the book. Here is a little bit of Rabbi Ted's suggested focus for the first day: "I step beyond the safe confines of my enslavements now. I am filled with exactly the energies I need as I begin my journey toward greater purpose and meaning. I welcome this deep Lovingkindness that naturally supports my growing."

And here is the poem-of-the-day from Panhala:


Then you shall take some of the blood, and put it on the door posts and the lintels of the houses . . .
and when I see the blood, I shall pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
-Exodus 12: 7 & 13

They thought they were safe
that spring night; when they daubed
the doorways with sacrificial blood.
To be sure, the angel of death
passed them over, but for what?
Forty years in the desert
without a home, without a bed,
following new laws to an unknown land.
Easier to have died in Egypt
or stayed there a slave, pretending
there was safety in the old familiar.

But the promise, from those first
naked days outside the garden,
is that there is no safety,
only the terrible blessing
of the journey. You were born
through a doorway marked in blood.
We are, all of us, passed over,
brushed in the night by terrible wings.

Ask that fierce presence,
whose imagination you hold.
God did not promise that we shall live,
but that we might, at last, glimpse the stars,
brilliant in the desert sky.