I mentioned in my previous post, that a dear friend of mine, David, died last week… and because of that, I just didn’t have the right mood to write what I’d planned to write about, which was on the subject of the foods we eat on Passover. This holiday, which began on Monday evening is probably the most connected to food. And we eat from a completely different menu than all the rest of the days of the year. I had intended to tell you a bit about the Passover diet. But as I mentioned, I wasn’t really in the mood. What I didn’t mention, was that I had had a lot of bad news even before the death of my friend. It was a difficult time for me, on a very personal level. And that is what lead me to the subject of today’s post… not the whole list of things that had gotten me down. But about the holiday, in relation to one’s mood.
I don’t have to tell you how often it happens, that when it rains, it pours. And how that’s true of the blues. You have something go wrong in your life, and then you’re not in the right mood to take the next little break down that comes along… and one thing leads to another, and we can fall into such a mean case of the blues, that all of life seems more misery than worth while. I’ve had periods like that in my life, and I’m sure you know what I’m talking about… It’s a good time to be creative, if the creative spirit burns within. But sometimes, you just don’t want to do anything…
One of the advantages of our religion, is that there are these holy days, spread around the year… There’s the Sabbath that comes every week, and is considered the second most holy day we have. Only the day of atonement is more important than the Sabbath. And on the Sabbath we forget about our day to day concerns, and behave in a way that disconnects us from many of the goals and aspirations we have in life. Even if you’re a painter, you don’t paint on the Sabbath… even if you’re a poet and you’ve just had an inspiration, you don’t jot down a reminder on the Sabbath. But on the other hand, if you’re mourning the death of someone closest to you in the world, you get up on the Sabbath, and do your best to get into the Sabbath mood. Time out.
And what’s true for the Sabbath is true for the holidays of the year. On Passover, there’s no mourning, and there’s no sorrow… no matter how bad things are. And aside from the traditional holidays, there are also traditional days of mourning, and fast days… and then, whatever is on your agenda, once again… time out. You stop doing what you were doing, and you cry your heart out, or fast, or do some very serious soul searching.
And as you practice this tradition, year after year, you learn… whether you want to or not, that the capacity for joy, and the ability for soul searching, and the deepest sorrows… are all things that one can choose… that we can emphasize or direct ourselves in life. We learn to have a slightly different perspective. We learn to appreciate that we’re not the center of the world, and that life goes on, no matter what we’re feeling at a particular moment in time. And even an old man like myself can sometimes get so down in the blues, he forgets that overall perspective… and then, how good it is, all of a sudden, to be reminded by tradition and the discipline of religion, that there are rules that just won’t make exceptions for me personally.
And so, during this holiday, I’ve been forced to have a really good time… even if I wasn’t in the mood. I listened to one of my young grandsons, playing a mean piano in the middle of the night, and got together with friends… different people, all of whom have their own sorrows and joys, and shared with them the holiday spirit, catching up, and celebrating. There were a lot of pictures. Some of which never met the camera… because we don’t photograph on the first or the last day of the holiday… But even so, there were more pictures than I could possibly post today… In fact, I’m sorely tempted to post a whole series of my friend Janne combing her cat, Charlie’s fur. I really enjoyed watching that, the night before last… Maybe I’ll post the series one of these days.
And now, as we are about to move into the Sabbath of the holiday, when we’ll enjoy both Sabbath and the Passover holiday together, I feel almost completely cleaned of the sorrow that I was wrapped up in before the holiday. You caught that, didn’t you. I said, ‘almost’. And almost isn’t really good enough. But I’ve still got a lot of improvement to do. It’s not just that I’m not perfect… sometimes I’m insufferable. But I keep trying. Who knows, maybe this Sabbath I’ll take still another step towards enlightenment. And meantime, let me send my best wishes to all my friends, whether you’re celebrating the same holiday that I am, or another, let’s let the holiday spirit lift us out of our own little worlds, and let us rejoice.
Forgive me for my lack of blog activity, and know that I will soon be back, and commenting and answering your beautiful comments too. And oh yes, I just have to show you at leas tone shot of Janne combing Charlie.