I was watching Young at Heart, a delightful documentary about a singing group of people in their seventies and beyond. The group is a compilation of people making each day count. There are many precious lines—one I laughed out loud—“We may be lost, but we are making good time.”
This is the time of year to focus on our relationship with time and we are going to try something new as a community and count together the 49 days between Passover (leaving the enslavement of Egypt) and Shavuot (the revelation at Sinai is the 50th day). The count (referred to as counting the Omer, after the thanksgiving barley offering brought on Passover) starts on the second evening of Passover (if you celebrate a Seder that night, you start the count at the end of the Seder) which will be Tuesday night April 19th. For first year students in the Time class, we will be studying the significance of the way the count is structured (counting up). The Kabbalah’s main teaching regarding the count is appreciating the moment—the day—the gist and gift of now.
In our class on Kabbalah and Buddhism, we found an interesting parallel tradition of counting 49 days. It is a customary Buddhist tradition to count and say prayers for 49 days for the departed. On the 50th day the soul find its way to its new life. The counting of the Omer is also a freeing of the soul; to be liberated from enslavement to time and find a new life in the revelation of the present moment.
This will be our learning in this time period of the count. While it will be a collective count, it is a personal count and a steady, consistent practice of coming back to the present moment. What does this moment present? I spent a few moments early this morning responding to emails of students who were asking questions, sharing thoughts or providing feedback. Each answer requires attention and being present to the richness of what we are learning together. That is one aspect of being present. Another is the teaching that no two moments are the same. In the east the saying is, you can never step into the (same) river twice. In Kabbalah we say: you can never eat the (same) matzah twice.
I look forward to our journeying together on this count. We will be “making good time.”
P.S. For another take on numbers see the link to Nancy Sharp’s blog: Vivid Living