Day 43, May 28: The Hesed in Malkhut

Malchut//Shechinah, the Sefirah-basis of this final week (!) of the Counting of the Omer, is Indwelling Presence, the Presence that can be known and sensed by us on this earth, in this life.

This day of Lovingkindness in Presence suggests that we may experience God as a loving, accompanying Helper.

When we are in crisis, there is a natural human tendency to feel isolated and lonely. The Lovingkindness in Presence suggests that while we may feel lonely, we are not alone. We are connected, accompanied, sustained. As Rabbi Min Kantrowitz puts it, "Today we remember that the caring Presence always surrounds and shields us."

I think that sometimes we liberal (non-orthodox) Jews have trouble with this idea. Our pious Christian friends (at least here in the Southwest) may speak openly about God's love, and about "praying for guidance." But for many of us, this kind of immediacy in speaking of "God as Helper" may make us uncomfortable. We are not used to "turning things over to God." We are successful, well-educated and rational. We act and react as if we're in the driver's seat all (or at least most of) the time.

My own experience has been this: to open to God as Loving Presence doesn't mean "checking your intellect at the door," going crazy, or abdicating all responsibility for your own life and choices. It does mean that when I am in "striving" mode, when I feel as if I must (and can!) control the outcome of a difficult situation, when it seems that it's my job to make everyone and everything in my life (and in the world!) "okay," my perspective shifts to a much healthier and calmer place if I entertain the thought (which is a truth) that it's not all up to me. I can open to the Love of the Presence. I can remember that there are forces, energies, people, systems in the world that support me. And it all flows from God. I can let go... at least a little.

Eager for your thoughts...

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