I bought a meditation cushion last year. I laugh, a bit embarrassed, when I tell people. It's mostly orange (for courage) and has an Anasazi pattern on the seat. It's filled with hemp seeds and was sold to me by a guy who was wearing a tunic, greeted me with a namaste bow, and either has had work done or had the glow of someone who doesn't eat meat, sugar, or anything processed.
I got the cushion as a way of committing myself to a better meditation practice. I had visions of making a meditation corner, complete with vision board, my cushion, maybe some candles and diffused essential oils. I haven't made my corner yet, but my cushion is pulled out a lot, and not just as a stage for my son. Since my monkey brain still gets distracted if I sit in silence, I downloaded an app with a bunch of guided meditations (called Meditation Studio, if you're interested). Some help you calm for sleep, connect you with you senses, alleviate pain or stress. I listened to one today that was a pep talk. Among other things, the voice told me how awesome I am and how important it is to acknowledge the things we are proud of.
Three things I'm proud of, today:
1. I finished my book
2. I thought of writing it
3. I'm ready to publish it
In the book Playing Big, business coach Tara Mohr refers often to fear. Early on in her book, she recounts a lesson by Rabbi Alan Lew, who taught that the Bible uses two different words for fear. The first, pachad is 'the fear of the phantom, the fear whose object is imagined.' These are the what-if fears, worst case scenario types of things. Fear of pain, embarrassment, or shame, everyone has felt it at some point. This is a type of fear I'd like to blog about at some point (and maybe talk to a therapist about), but not today.
Today I've been thinking about the second type of fear, yirah, which has three different meanings:
HOW BEAUTIFUL IS THAT.
I have felt that feeling and never had a word for it.
My first real grown-up job, doing major fundraising for Habitat for Humanity, I felt it a lot. There was fear of failure, sure, but it was more this kind of terrifying wonder at the opportunity, the immense desire to fill the space in all the ways I felt were possible. In a recent episode of my podcast with my brother Brian, we were talking about that jolt of panic when inspiration strikes and you want desperately to be able to keep up with it, due it justice. His idea for a Christmas Carol musical came in the middle of the night, as so often is the case. I maybe also have felt this when I am unexpectedly well-slept or over-caffeinated, but it's hard to know if it's really the same thing.
And that last one, fear in the presence of the divine. English doesn't do it justice. When the scriptures say we will look to God with fear and trembling, I've never felt that. To me, connecting with the diving isn't scary. But it's not always just comfort or solace or support. There's this, I don't know, grandeur of it. There's something yirah-y about the vastness of space and omnipotence of God. Moreover, that we, little collections of cells and DNA are important in all that vastness and omnipotence. It feels BIG. Energetic, you might even say, to connect with that divine.
In writing this book, I have felt yirah in all three ways. I have felt energized and inspired. I have felt unsure of being equal to the vision. I have felt intense connection with God in a way that feels new.
Now, to deal with that other pesky pachad.
In our Young Women's class today, the teacher showed the girls the Church videos for their Christmas season focus #lighttheworld. I generally have a pretty bad attitude about inspirational videos in general- cause videos, cute animal videos, spiritual videos, whatever. I have a hard time not picturing the 'emotional journey' maps we would make back in my fundraising days and imagining marketing departments and filmographers mapping music and scenes accordingly. Feel inspired? Bah Humbug.
THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS. The theme this year is 'Give as He Gave' and I will admit they moved me. Besides the fact that Church has clearly upped their diversity represesntation game (most clips don't look like they were filmed in Utah by white Utahns), what struck me is that lighting the world is a principle of action. Too often, we talk about charity and Christlike behavior as one of simply being kind. Smiling at people, sitting by them, being generally positive. All good things, no doubt about it. But we get lulled into passive goodness. What I see in these videos is action: giving, shoveling, break-dancing for the elderly. A young boy makes a makeshift Christmas tree for his family, musicians play music on a street corner, donated goods are collected, sorted, and handed over.
Giving as Christ gave can be an attitude of kindness, but at it's core, it must take action.