Like many of us, I’m losing track of time during these weeks on lockdown. My increasingly long hair shows that it’s been awhile; only careful thought and a calendar will confirm to me that, as of today, it’s been 27 days since I’ve been out.
In secular life, days have no inherent meaning. Folks having jobs (or relatives with jobs) on fixed schedules might lean on their work to pace the week. Less so at this extraordinary moment when the global economy is resting and New York State is on “Pause”: time cannot obtain that same quality of meaning from human externals.
Natural externals are another matter. Time can feel poignant and even tangible during seasonal shifts, like now when spring is blooming all around us. At this time of year, this week really does look different from last week: pay close enough attention and each day will look different.
Spiritually, too. Jewish tradition imbues meaning into each day, each week and – during these seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot – this “week of weeks.” With less rigidity from external schedules and outside distractions, we can choose to attune more to the pacing and spiritual opportunities of these cycles.
Each morning, we try to summon gratitude for something – and if gratitude feels lacking, we set the intention to find it. Our ancestors were wise that even when prayer feels lacking, we can pray for the impulse to pray. If gratitude feels lacking, we can hope for gratitude later. The intention is never, ever wasted.
Each week, Shabbat can be our beacon and magnet: we can lean into her. Some begin to feel Shabbat approach midweek, like rounding a corner. Recalling the inner spark that Shabbat offers, the whole week can resonate with a bit of Shabbat’s anticipation and expansiveness.
And at this time of lockdown when we’re prone to lose track of external time, we count our Omer days from Passover’s liberation to Shavuot’s revelation. We’re counting down to Sinai, counting down to our own readiness to receive revelation again. We’re counting through the qualities of love, strength, balance, endurance, humility, generativity and spiritual presence – one each week – that we’ll need to become the clearest possible channels to receive revelation anew.
We’re counting down to a precious chance to birth a whole new world. How many of us ever have said that with a straight face? None, I suspect. Never over at least three generations has humanity had such a clear chance to renew civilization itself.
Will humanity seize that chance? I don’t know. I hope so. There’s so much we don’t yet know: it’s too early to know until the lockdown ends. But some things are starting to come into focus even now.
At least one thing is clear: when the lockdown ends and what’s next begins to unfold, we’ll need all the love, strength, balance, endurance, humility, generativity and spiritual presence we can muster.
Through them, through us, the next revelation will come. The countdown has begun.
Past corona-themed spiritual messages from Rabbi David:
From Week 2: The spirituality of melting down
From Week 3: The liberation journey when so little feels like freedom
From Week 4: How can we celebrate? How can’t we?