|A series brought to you by Secrets My Grandmother Told Me: A Wisdom School|
And so the countdown began on the second day of Pesach, counting 49 days, a journey of seven full weeks…
Chesed – Limitless Love
by Rabbi Nadya Gross
On Seder night(s), we celebrate freedom. One of the questions we asked at our Seder was:
“Freedom from…” or “Freedom to…”?
We explored how freedoms come with responsibilities, and how the exercise of “my freedom” can become the enslavement of another if I don’t recognize and live into the obligation that my freedom carries.
We count the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot, each day another step toward Sinai. Through counting our days, we strive to ‘make them count’, to realign our being with the attributes – the Sefirot – on the Tree of Life, shedding the husks of forgetfulness and habit, and re-membering, re-creating our best selves. As we encounter each of the divine attributes, associated with each of the seven weeks, we notice where we have fixing to do and where we find inspiration to shift or boost our own way of being. This way we prepare to receive the torah that is meant to guide us in the coming year and recommit to the responsibility that comes with the great gift of free will.
Our journey begins in Chesed / Loving-kindness. We have been liberated by “God’s outstretched [right] arm” – the greatest act of Loving-kindness releases us from the chains that have bound us and points us toward our Selves. Chesed is the unformed, unbounded, unconditional and undefinable flow of love and loving-kindness. This genuine, divine love is the only commodity that can be given away endlessly without ever running out.
One of my children once shared that they dislike the word ‘love’ because anyone can define it however they like. They find it false and meaningless.
Interesting that this is precisely what I love about Love. It is all things, many things, no thing … Yes, we each define love in our own way; oftentimes, our definition shifts as it is applied to different objects of the loving, as we grow in capacity, and as the moment demands or inspires a new kind of loving.
Long ago, I began to learn that my definition of love was too narrow. When I expected to be loved in a particular way – perhaps the way that I loved or expressed my love – then I failed to receive the love that was being shared with me. I couldn’t recognize it if it didn’t meet the contours of my definition. I had to let go of my expectations of what love is, or how it should be expressed.
And, suddenly, the world was filled with Love – and my life became the blessed container for so many colors, flavors, shapes and sizes of LOVE.
I wonder, as I bathe in this unbounded Love, who or what I will discover at the end of the journey. This week, I can imagine all potential, there are no limits. I know, of course, that this is just a moment in time … and limits will arise in the next moment. So, for now, I embrace and allow myself to fully receive the Love without inhibition or definition.
My questions for this week:
- Can we open to receive the love that is always there?
- Can we stop our doing for a moment and take time to open our hearts and minds to know and to feel that there is Love, whether or not it looks exactly like what we’ve imagined we’re longing for?
- Can we come to know ourselves as the beloved?
- Can we get out of the way of our judgments to allow the Love to flow through us and be shared without expectations?
I bless us all to take time this week to live into these questions and allow them to transform our being and doing.