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Come On In, The Water's Perfect

Friday, 4 October, 2019 - 10:02 am

Water.

It's so simple. Unspectacular and unpretentious.

Yet it's so powerful.

It gives life – literally – to the earth and its inhabitants.

It's the amniotic fluid, our pre-birth state, and - as we go through life - it’s our cleansing friend.

So uniquely tranquil is water’s sound, that the tonality of raindrops falling ranks highest among preferred sleeping aids. Whether it's a flowing stream, or a majestic fountain, water creates a personal island of serenity.

Water is so fundamentally natural, yet simultaneously ethereal, feeling like it’s just beyond our concrete grasp.

The Torah concept of Mikvah harnesses – and expresses – the singular energy of water. This pool of ritual restoration and rebirth (which we are providing in our new Synagogue wing!), is a 'conductor' which facilitates an individual’s growth from one spiritual stage to the next. Every Yom Kippur, the High Priest in the Holy Temple would periodically immerse himself in a Mikvah, as he progressed from one phase of the service to the next.

Women immerse themselves as part of their journey through life's cycles. And men regularly use the Mikvah as part of a ‘spiritual regeneration’ process, shedding one behavioral modality as we aim for a more evolved one.

Perhaps conversion is the most obvious transition, when the Mikvah-waters summon the individual’s new identity into full blossom.

But why does water also serve as a metaphor for life's difficulties?

Why do we speak – even Scripturally – of the 'rushing waters' which threaten to extinguish my flickering flame of hope, or the ferocious tide which threatens to knock me off balance?

How do I reconcile the Mikvah’s serenity with the stuff of Noah's flood?

But maybe that's exactly the point.

The babbling brook’s tranquility is precious; but it's also easy. Life is about facing the raging tide; there’s no other way to access my life’s potential. I just need to brace myself, and use the energy to my advantage. When I am emotionally and spiritually cocooned, when I've found internal fortitude and focus, when I'm anchored to firm principles and vision, I have a protective boat which rises higher with every wave.

Chassidic thought describes contemplative prayer and study as our protective Ark. In prayer and study, we access a psycho-spiritual ‘ship’ which shelters us from life’s floodwaters, and helps us transform that tide into personal growth.  

This Yom Kippur, spend some quiet time in prayer and insulate your soul.

Welcome aboard.

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