Simple Abundance in a Time of Lack
In a time lacking in truth and certainty and filled with anguish and despair, no one should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to this world, through her work, a portion of its lost heart. — Louise Bogan
As the crisis in Israel continues to unfold, I am feeling acutely aware of how much I currently lack. I lack peace of mind. I lack my typical sense of expansiveness and contentment. I lack a sense of wellbeing regarding those I love in Israel. I lack confidence about the place of the Jewish people in the world. I lack optimism about the United Nations and international leaders. I lack hope for secure borders and true peace for Israel in my lifetime.
Perhaps it is Divine Providence or maybe just luck, but exactly now, when I feel the emptiness of that glass half filled, I am teaching a summer course at the Orangetown Jewish Center called Simple Abundance. In a class based on the book by Sarah Ban Breathnach, twenty-five students share Monday mornings as a time to focus on all of our blessings. Anchoring Breathnach’s work in Jewish values and texts, we talk about the principles of gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty and joy as a way to realize that we possess all that we need to be genuinely happy.
In Breathnach’s words: “When I surrendered my desire for security and sought serenity instead, I looked at my life with open eyes. I saw that I had much for which to be grateful. I felt humbled by my riches and regretted that I took for granted the abundance that already existed in my life.”
Just before teaching the first class, I thought that I could not possibly facilitate a learning experience about finding personal joy when Israel was in crisis. As soon as I began teaching, however, the connections being made and the kindnesses being shown shifted my understanding of what was actually taking place. In our corner of the world, we were bringing God into our midst and sharing ways in which we could be our best possible selves.
I cannot change the make-up of the United Nations Human Rights Council. I don’t know how to solve the complicated issues of Israel in her dangerous neighborhood. I cannot protect all of my children and friends in Israel from harm.
But I can do something. I can maintain my best self in the midst of the fear, anxiety and loss in Israel. It is so much easier to fall into despair. I realized through the path toward simple abundance that the courageous response to world events is to be optimistic and positive. Rabbi Scheff declared at our Kiddush time discussion about Israel this past Shabbat, “I am an idealist and I make no apology for that. When I give up hope, I might as well stop this work that I do.”
Be courageous! Reclaim optimism. Empower yourself by taking one small action for Israel and for yourself. Join us for the next Simple Abundance class on August 4th at 11:00 am.
Praying for the peace of Israel, Rabbi Paula Mack Drill