It's spring and, as evidenced by my last posting about the honeysuckle, I am delighted. Not only because of the flowers, but also because it's almost time to start counting the Omer, possibly my absolute favorite spiritual season.
In Jewish tradition, the counting of the omer represents an ancient time when the people would prepare for seven weeks to travel to Jerusalem with their spring harvest. The word "omer" actually refers to the portion of the barley crop which was brought as an offering to the Temple between Passover and Shavuot (possibly my all time favorite holiday); centuries later, the Jewish mystics created a system for counting the omer using seven of thirteen Divine attributes found in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.
Each week of the omer, and each day of every week, is represented by one of these qualities, creating a mystical matrix. Very cool.
What do I love about it? The actual practice of counting the omer, reciting the prayer and meditating on the theme for that day, occurs at night, and refers to the coming day, not the day that has just passed. That alone makes it interesting.
Counting the omer represents the intentional journey from physical liberation (Passover) to spiritual liberation (Shavuot), a seven-week daily meditation practice within a thoughtfully crafted structure–it is the perfect blend of woo-woo and discipline.
Seven weeks–forty nine days–and on the fiftieth day, there is an all night spiritual feast to celebrate Shavuot. I'm not just talking about an actual feast (it's a Jewish holiday; of course there will be food!); it's also a feast for the soul (literally all night long).
I've already pulled out my Omer folder, which is stuffed with Omer guides, prayers, poems and meditations. Ritualwell has some fabulous resources for counting the omer, and someone has even created a H-Omer Simpson guide to counting the omer. D-oh!
Here is an excerpt from a beautiful prayer for counting the omer written by one of my teachers, Rabbi Steven Fisdel:
Merciful and Compassionate One, You have liberated us from our fears and have
freed us from the oppressive obstacles within that have enslaved us in the
past. We have been emancipated, psychologically and emotionally, in order to
focus our work inwardly, so as to prepare ourselves for an expansion of light
at our very core. You have blessed us profusely with Your love. For that we
come to offer our gratitude.
by day, do we ready ourselves spiritually… During this
sacred season of the Omer, we count our blessings daily and we collect the best
within ourselves. We reorganize our priorities on the deepest of levels. Daily,
we exalt in the goodness of our lives.
Between now and Tuesday night, the first night of counting, I will begin preparing for Passover and for counting the omer.
What might your personal liberation look like during this season? What is the goodness in your life for which you offer gratitude? What would your mystical matrix look like?