I read this recently: The word spiritual contains the word ritual. How had I not seen this before?
As we read through the final words of the journey of Exodus/Shemot, I am struck by this juxtaposition of word within word. The last two books – Vaykhel/Pekude provide extraordinary detail about the construction of the Mishkan, the sanctuary where God will reside with the people Israel. This collection of souls are barely a people at this point, even having stood at Sinai in their joined numbers; they are still learning how to do this “people” thing. The half-shekel requirement is part of building that bond. Giving on a footing of equality helps to build a bond of community. The many rituals of Judaism are not outside spirituality – they are within its very essence – our very essence. As we prepare to leave Shemot and enter the pages of Vayikra/Leviticus – many, many rituals – we begin to glimpse this essence.
We have rituals for everyday and for Shabbat; for prayer and for celebration; for birth and for death and for coming of age. The blessing of ritual is that we have a structure to lean into, to hold us upright when we need support, to help us feel comfort when we need healing. The blessing of our spirit is that we can inform these rituals with our own private imagination, create our own sanctuary of place and time and soul. Sometimes we build and sometimes we rest.
May we all be blessed in our comings and goings, of learning and of life.
Much love to all,