Since a few weeks’ before Pesach, I’ve been feeling pretty strange.
Yes, Pesach was very hectic this year, with lots of family coming out to Israel. Yes, I got hit with the ‘mystery’ illness that kept me feeling exhausted and out of it for around a month. Yes, my kids are both pretty unsettled in their schools, my husband is still pretty unsettled in his career, and I’m still trying to work out what I want to do when I grow up.
All these things are really just variations on a theme that has been reoccurring periodically in my life for decades: that feeling that I don’t know what I’m doing with myself, and that my life feels a bit empty and purposeless.
I’ve tried to fill that space with writing, with books, with classes, with praying, with working like a dog, with holidays, with exercising like a crazy person (many years’ ago, now…) and occasionally, even with cleaning my toilet.
Sometimes they work, more as a distraction than anything else. Usually, I have to go and do some big prayer-a-thon to get underneath the icky feeling and just reconnect back to myself, and then back to God. And THAT’s when I get some relief and some clarity and some inner peace.
(If you’re wondering, I often have to do a longer hitbodedut every week, to keep on top of the empty, pointless feeling that can swirl around me not infrequently.)
But given all that, this period of time still feels different from the usual meaningless / pointless / confused / frustrated feelings I get.
I don’t know about you, but this period of counting the Omer has been pretty intense so far. Every day seems to bring its fair share of deep, introspective work, and insights. I’ve been getting intense dreams, experiencing some weird things, and God has sent me some huge messages about what I need to work on and fix, still.
Like, I had one dream involving people I hadn’t spoken to for years, already, which made me realize I was still pretty upset at them and harbouring a huge grudge. Who knew?
Or, I had a conversation with one of my kids that left me literally gasping for breath. She mentioned something nonchalantly, like kids do, and I suddenly lost my voice and couldn’t breathe for a few seconds.
Gosh, clearly some deep, internal button had been pressed.
Who knew that stuff was still so tightly-wired up inside, and reactive?
So since Pesach has ended (and really, even before it began) I’ve been caught up in a bit of an internal maelstrom, where I know God is expecting big things of me, but I’m still finding it hard to really identify them, or give Him what I think He wants.
And it’s intense.
Do you know that Rav Eliezer Berland is in prison in South Africa, and has been kept there for over a month, already? Do you know what terrible trials and difficulties he’s going through?
Part of me feels that it’s only right that my life should feel so intense and unstable at the moment, because how can a huge Tzaddik like this be suffering so much, and we just sit here carrying on, business as usual?
In fact, the situation with Rav Berland is what makes me think, more than anything else, that this period of time is unusual, even though parts of it feel all-too-familiar. Things are getting shaken up. Things are getting broken down. Things are changing.
In which way, and what that means, I have no idea. I hope it’s going to lead to Moshiach and the temple, peacefully. But it feels like we’re definitely entering unchartered waters in some way at the moment, at least to me. And without my hitbodedut to keep me afloat, I think I probably would have sunk under all the pressure and intensity a long time ago.