Day 39, May 24: The Netzach in Yesod

Day 39 of the Omer today (Shabbat)... hard to believe that in 11 days we'll be at Shavu'ot itself.

Our language and psyches often embrace the pervasive metaphor of life as a journey. We dip into the metaphor so often that we don't even realize it; it is embedded in so many common expressions: "I'm at a crossroads." "I've reached a milestone." "I don't know which way to turn." "I'm off the beaten path." "It's time for a course correction."

In a well-known poem, "Life Is A Journey," Rabbi Alvin Fine unpacks this metaphor in an extended fashion:

Birth is a beginning and death a destination;
But life is a journey.
A going, a growing from stage to stage:
From childhood to maturity and youth to old age.

From innocence to awareness and ignorance to knowing;
From foolishness to discretion and then perhaps, to wisdom.
From weakness to strength or strength to weakness and often back again.
From health to sickness and back we pray, to health again.

From offense to forgiveness, from loneliness to love,
From joy to gratitude, from pain to compassion.
From grief to understanding, from fear to faith;
From defeat to defeat to defeat, until, looking backward or ahead:

We see that victory lies not at some high place along the way,
But in having made the journey, stage by stage, a sacred pilgrimage.
Birth is a beginning and death a destination;
But life is a journey, a sacred pilgrimage,
Made stage by stage...To life everlasting.

Fine reminds us that the Yesod, the foundation of our lives in every sense, is built through Netzach, through the persistence of putting one foot in front of the other (there's that journey metaphor again!) step after step after step.

The acquisition of wisdom, patience, integrity, strength, identity, is something that happens over time, in the realm of Netzach, and there are no shortcuts. There are no trophies or medals, no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There is only persistence and unfolding. As Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg puts it in one of her Jewish Meditation CD's,

"The spiritual path becomes a path of growing a soul, that dimension of our humanity that is connected to other beings, to life, to love, and therefore to God... moment by moment, throughout a lifetime, we learn, and we unfold."

Your thoughts? And Shabbat Shalom.

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