Week 1. Chesed (leaving Egypt through the sea)

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Overall intention: To view love and those who love you as your teachers; expanding who you are emotionally and growing your capacity to love.  Love comes in many varieties—and we embody the many varieties of love.  We receive many gifts in our life from those we love and from those we might even hate.

Imagine for a moment the scene of leaving Egypt at midnight. The moment arrives. God’s love permeates the moment.  Finally, freedom. Gather your gifts—first life itself—you have survived, you will walk out of this Egyptian concentration camp.  It feels euphoric, chaotic, overwhelming (Chesed).  Then focus sets in. First steps and then next steps. Gather what you need. There is not even time to let the bread fully bake.  There are limits to what you can take with you, to what you can take in (Gevurah). Your oppressors offer gifts. Accepting the gifts is a harmonizing act, integrating the pain and loss and feeling empathy (Tiferet).  Can love win out, will expansiveness be the measure of the day—a day that has no limits. All obstacles have been removed or now can be seen as overcome (Netzach) and there will be a need to let go, to acknowledge that within this euphoria there are those that will not be leaving, nor has an ultimate awareness come to the Egyptians themselves (Hod).  And what is Moses doing at this moment? He is finding the bones of Joseph to keep a promise that was made two centuries before, “take my bones out with you from Egypt”.  The leader ensures that the moment of leaving is with integrity (Yesod). Then the exodus begins. With trumpet and tambourine and a step over the border. Free at last—with love and for love. Love busts us out—it is that power worth waiting for until the last day, the very last moment.

Day one: Chesed in Chesed

Receiving love is not always easy—it makes us uneasy at times. Underlying this dis-ease is a lack of feeling worthy of the largess of unconditional love.  Similarly, are we able to love with no feeling of reciprocity—to love for its own sake.  On this first full day of freeing from slavery (of the past) how can you love others and yourself unconditionally? Is this a contradiction? Can I love you the way you want and not give up loving myself?

Set aside a time to meditate without any time limit—just sit and allow the emotion of love to permeate your body and mind.  Feel yourself expanding with the meditation. If you want to add words you can say: Love my neighbor—love myself.

Day two: Gevurah in Chesed

The balance of overflowing love is to be focused and even limiting in our love. This not only impacts the ‘quantity of love’ it also defines the ‘quality of love.’  One often recognizes this aspect of love (Gevurah) with the loss of love.  After loss the question is can I ever love again? Yet we find that love is generative—it can be born again even from the narrow confines of loss.

Meditation: Set aside a minute or 18 minutes to sit quietly by yourself and reflect on a loss or painful experience and feel it fully. Let it become your teacher—being a source for knowing the regenerative power of love.

Day three: Tiferet in Chesed

Integrating love into empathy is allowing for love to be present without the need to do anything—neither to define (withdraw) or reach out (drawwith). Rather don’t take it on, leave it where it is and give the gift of empathy. You can do this for others and for yourself—empathize with your body, your emotions and thoughts.

Meditation: Sit quietly and feel your body. Don’t take it on—-empathize. Send love to your body.  Let the body take care of itself and speak to you. Listen to it.

Day four: Netzach in Chesed

Overcoming obstacles to love is letting go of our past hurts and a sense of our own love able-ness.  What defenses have you erected to protect your sense of vulnerability?

A poem from South Africa (an apology to the author for not remembering his name)

Man is

a great wall builder

The Berlin Wall

The Wailing Wall

but the wall

most impregnable

has a moat

flowing with fright

around his heart

Meditation: Envision the walls tumbling down, melting.  Or envision a door or opening carved into the wall.  Perhaps the wall is erected to keep out a particular person.  Imagine yourself strong enough to overcome the obstacles to being present with that person and not relinquishing your full openness to love. You may not want to be with them, but if you are you can let go of the fear and constriction.

Day five: Hod in Chesed

I may not always be able to love in the moment or others may not love me the way I want. Acknowledge that love may not always be the way that I want. Surrendering to the imperfections of yourself and others is an act of love in itself.

Meditation: Upon awakening say: I accept this day for what it brings—lessons for me to learn about what I need to acknowledge and to grow in my capacity to love.

Day six: Yesod in Chesed

Is my loving with integrity? Am I telling the truth when I say—I love you (including what we learned in Hod)? This day I reflect on how the prior days work is being filtered into my actions. Am I balancing the different aspect of love and knowing that this balance is not seeking an ideal or excuse for not striving for greater growth?  Have I done enough inner work that I am ready for action?

Meditation: If I promise myself (or others) will I keep to that promise? How many times have I said to myself—I will, I will never (and said it aloud)…So where does integrity sit inside you.  A word meditation: My mouth and heart are one (in Hebrew Piv ve-Libei Shavin).

Day seven: Malchut in Chesed

Put into action your love. Let love be the spark that ignites your love for others (and yourself). This is a day to recall the splitting of the sea—a time when the act of giving is exemplified by Nachshon jumping into the waters (up to his nostrils). It can be seen as an act of courage (overcoming obstacles). It is also an act of expansiveness—of connecting with the moment and reciprocating—God has taken us here, now move forward—for the love of God, the love of the community and the love of life. Act.

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