Ah, spring! I used to live on the Upper West Side and would wait for the peak of the cherry blossom canopy on a 4-block stretch in Central Park between around 86th St. and 90th St. I used to walk under the canopy of trees, back and forth, and marvel. Sometimes I felt like a bride under the chuppah.
Since I no longer live within walking distance of Central Park, I now have to send out my Upper West Side spies (actually only one spy — my friend Rachel) to let me know when peak will be. So I actually caught it this year before the rains come and send the petals flying. How glorious it is!
As for early spring flowers, tulips are my favorite. Later when the irises pop, they will be my favorite. “Love the one you’re with!”
Since this is the week of hod/humility in the counting of the Omer, I’d like to take note of the fact that a sense of deep awe and gratitude can lead to humility. And I suppose that is what I feel as I contemplate the wonders of spring. In the experience of awe, there is a humbling.
Helen, my friend – and Mussar chevruta/study partner of 15 years – says she has one day in the Omer that exemplifies who she is emotionally and spiritually. It is the 11th day of the Omer, the day of Netzach sh’b’Gevurah — endurance in discipline/boundary-setting. For years we’ve discussed her g’vurah-dik (structured and well-boundaried) nature, but we never placed it in the context of a particular day in the Omer. I asked her whether the reverse — the 23rd day, Gevurah sh’b’Netzach (discipline in endurance) — would have been equally apt. She pondered the question for a moment and then said that, no, her base middah/soul-trait is g’vurah with the netzach as overlay.
She then (of course) turned the tables on me. “So, Pam, which day of the Omer best exemplifies you?”
I know my day falls sometime in this week of humility, not because I yet am humble in my essence, but because my sense of self is so entangled with it in a myriad of complicated ways, both as aspiration and longing, and in senses of the word other than those connoting ego. I want to live my life aware of my mortality, which is a way of living in humility. I want to live my life in gratitude, which is a way of living in humility. I want to live my life being more present and available, which is a way of living in humility. If I understand today’s overlay of Tiferet to mean compassion or balance or harmony, I think today would be my day. I want to live compassionately (to self) in my humility, and I want to have it be in proper balance in my life.
Contemplative exercise: I invite you to consider which day of the Omer best captures your soul’s essence.
First step, which would be your “base” soul-trait — Chesed (lovingkindness), Gevurah (discipline/strength/boundary-setting), Tiferet (compassion/harmony/ balance), Netzach (endurance/eternity), Hod (humility), Yesod (bonding/foundation), Malchut (nobility/sovereignty)?
Once you figure that out, you can discern which one would be the “overlay” soul-trait.
Let me know how it goes!