Making it count: 7 weeks of reflection
Do you time to reflect and pursue inner growth?
An organization that I’ve been following for years, Hazon (pronounced “Ha-zohn” — the “o” is like the “o” in “opa!”), works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community and a healthier and more sustainable world for all. As I start this daily blogging on Medium, Hazon has inspired me to look inward and to prompt you.
I’m not going to get too Jewish focused here because I want to appeal to a broader audience, but I do need to set some context for what you’ll be reading so there will be a small bit of Jewish/”Old Testament” context below.
Last Friday Hazon sent out an email about “the counting of the Omer” — and a few days later posted a related weekly challenge on their Instagram account. What they said inspired me to connect a custom with roots in the Old Testament to the everyday, secular world. This is all stuff that I learned about years ago via my expensive Jewish education but have long forgotten.
The Omer, in brief:
From Hazon’s newsletter (links added by me):
Sefirat Ha’Omer — the counting of the Omer — is rooted in the Biblical mitzvah of counting the 49 days between the Jewish holidays of Pesach and Shavuot, when the first sacrifices of the barley and wheat offerings were made. The kabbalists of Sefad added their own psycho-spiritual overlay to it. Now, here in 2018, we have the chance to take this ancient tradition and breathe powerful life into it.
Shavuot is when, according to Judaism, God gave the Torah to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai. An “omer” is an ancient unit of dry measurement.
A time for reflection and inner growth
In Kabbalah, each of the seven weeks of the Omer-counting is associated with one of the seven lower sefirot. Sefirot are divine attributes or emanations which are manifested in each of the Four Worlds, and are the source of the corresponding ten faculties of the soul. Each day of each week is also associated with one of these same seven sefirot, creating forty-nine permutations. The Kabbalists explain that the 49 days that connect Passover with Shavuot correspond to the 49 drives and traits of the human heart. How do you get 49 from 7? 7x7.
The seven attributes that are assigned to each week are also assigned to each day of the week and combined together. The first attribute is “loving kindness”, and so both the first week and the first day of each week are associated with loving-kindness. The first day is associated with loving-kindness within loving-kindness. I’ll tell you more about tomorrow.
The second day of the first week is associated with might within loving-kindness, the first day of the second week is associated with loving-kindness within might, the second day of the second week is associated with might within might and so forth.
It’s these attributions that I want to focus on. Drives and traits of the human heart. We all have hearts. Reflection and personal growth are universal. They’re not religion-based, they’re human-based. It doesn’t matter what your feelings about Kabbalah are in this case.
During the current Omer period, Hazon is reflecting on the inner growth that can flourish out of sustainable living and so am I. This is not going to be a daily reflection, but a weekly one.
Because there IS a Simpsons reference for everything
You can also read about the counting of the Omer on The Homer Calendar. That’s Homer as in Simpson because there indeed IS a Simpsons reference for every life situation. (I beat the smart kids AND I bent my Wookie, so there. And I sometimes dress myself backwards or inside out.)
According to an article in Tablet, The Homer Calendar is perhaps the internet’s only Simpsons-themed ritual countdown of the days between Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot and “doubles as a constantly updated chronicle of every known Jewish-related joke in the show’s history.”
Using Hazon’s newsletter as inspiration
I opened the email two days after they sent it, and as soon as I read it, I knew that it was the writing influence I was looking for. In an example of synchronicity, I’d started Googling for writing prompts the night before, but abandoned that search for another day. I asked Google. An email answered with writing prompts. Thank you, Universe.
As I said, I’m not going to get too focused on religion or religious text here. Reflection and inner growth are universal whether you belong to a religion or not, and whether you believe in a higher power or not.
Weekly writing prompts, weekly reminder for reflection
This is going to be a series of posts. Seven weeks of reflection, which leaves me with four other topics to write about each week. I will post the first weekly challenge tomorrow (Wednesday) and then weekly after that, on Tuesdays if I follow my editorial calendar. I don’t know what my answer to the weekly questions, even tomorrow’s, will be.
I know that I’m writing this introduction to the series a day in advance of posting it (Monday for Tuesday) and that I don’t want to spend too much time drafting the answer. I also know that I don’t want to race through it and prepare all Reflection posts at once. While I might write several stories in other topics on the same day, writing multiple Seven Weeks of Reflection stories isn’t a task I want to batch.
If I stick to the schedule of posting them on Tuesdays, so I’ll likely reflect and write each post on the weekend. Active reflection, I think, involves slowing down and enjoying the process, rather than treating it as a task to be crossed off a list.
Perhaps you’ll take this journey with me in a way that’s secular, or not.
Do you time to reflect and pursue inner growth? Tell me below.