Carmel Louis, Teacher of Mindfulness

On October 14th at 8:45 am, my watch battery died. The date is significant because it is the morning when we finally left two weeks of quarantine in Tel Aviv and held our new grandson in our arms for the first time.

As I write these words, I am sitting on my return flight home. Recollecting two magical weeks with Sagi, Sarah and newborn Carmel Louis, I can see now the significance of lacking a functioning watch. 

What time was it? It was the present moment in every moment.

I have tried to be intentional for many years, studying and practicing mindfulness, even having the chutzpah to teach it. But for the first time, I experienced complete presence without working at it.

Carmel Louis was my teacher.

What time was it? Without my watch and with my phone tucked away, it was just this moment. 

It was time for Carmel to cuddle in my arms, listening to me sing “White Cliffs of Dover.”

It was time for Sagi and Sarah to give Carmel a bath. (He screamed throughout!)

It was time to bless Carmel for Shabbat.

It was time to push Carmel’s stroller to the tayelet (the walkway beside the Mediterranean) to see the sunset.

It was time to take three chicken pot pies out of the oven, one for dinner, one for Josh, and one for the freezer. 

It was time to sit on the balcony beside Sagi’s herb garden as Sarah nursed Carmel.

It was time to stare endlessly at Carmel Louis Fainshtain Drill, mesmerized by every expression that passed across his tiny face.

Before I post these words, I will have returned home, turned off my away message, and begun responding to my emails. I am grateful for the lessons taught by Carmel and I will maintain them as I reenter the hectic pace of rabbinic work during a pandemic. 

I hope that the lessons I learned will not only stay with me, but be helpful to you as well.

  1. Do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking means that you’re going to miss something.
  2. Practice doing nothing at all except for gazing at something perfect and beautiful in God’s world. If you don’t have Carmel handy, practice with the view from your window, your pet, or a loved one on Zoom.
  3. Be completely aware of your blessings in every moment. If you feel down or fatigued or worried (as we are apt to feel in these days), reframe the moment. Despite your experience at the time, look for and count your blessings. (Sarah described feeling so tired when she heard Carmel cry just one-half hour after a middle of the night feeding. Then she looked into his little face and was flooded with love.)
  4. Put your phone down and take off your watch. I know that I cannot do this in my normal days as I did for two weeks on Mapu Street in Tel Aviv. But I can do it for an hour every day. And I can do it on Shabbat.

Let me know how you do! Drop me a note anytime! What time? The present moment in every moment will be just the right time!

With blessings, Rabbi Paula Mack Drill

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30 responses to “Carmel Louis, Teacher of Mindfulness”

  1. Beth says :

    So many blessings to count in our lives.
    Carmel is definitely a blessing and a gift💕
    Love your article. You always have so many lessons to teach us.

    • Rabbi Paula Mack Drill says :

      Todah rabbah, Beth! The rabbis say we are supposed to count 100 blessings each day. It’s not hard if we have the right perspective!

    • Lorraine Brown says :

      Seeing these beautiful photos of baby CARMEL lit up a dreary Fall day in Rockland. I can see how holding this precious little baby filled your heart and spirit with a deep and boundless love! May you always be able to treasure these first encounters with your grandson, and engage in future moments in which warm thoughts of him warm your entire being. Thank you for sharing your experience with all of us. Wishing you lots of nachas!

  2. Linda and David Schept says :

    A ray of sunshine on a dreary day, and a wonderful lesson. Thank you. Linda and David

    • Rabbi Paula Mack Drill says :

      Thanks! It is certainly hard to leave the warm Tel Aviv sunshine for this cold and dreary day without Carmel! But I’m glad to be back. Thanks for your kind words, as always.

  3. Rhonda Plawner says :

    Welcome back. I’m not saying welcome home, because now I think home for you has 2 places in your heart. Treasure the ‘time’ you had with Carmel and hold dear thoughts of the next ‘time’ you will see him. Looking forward to being with you again on Zoom.
    With friendship and affection,
    Rhonda

    • Rabbi Paula Mack Drill says :

      Thanks, Rhonda. I think you nailed it – two places in my heart! But it is very good to be home and I’ll see you soon, I hope, at Text and Context!

  4. Sally Winter says :

    Welcome home! How lucky am I to have you in my life. Carmel is beautiful and so are your words and thoughts. Now that you have been blessed with a grandchild you know your life will never be the same. Continue to enjoy every minute of every day in good health! Hugs, Sally 🤗

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  5. Beverly Yarkon says :

    Baruch Haba! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful lesson and your beautiful grandson. Your words are a ray of sunshine on another gloomy day. Fondly, Beverly

    • Rabbi Paula Mack Drill says :

      Thanks, Beverly! What a gloomy day after the sunshine of Tel Aviv, but it is good to be home! See you soon, I hope, at Text and Context.

  6. LLOYD FISHMAN says :

    Words of the day as inspired by Carmel Louis. Maybe a future philosopher…he just doesn’t know it yet.

  7. Annette Diskin says :

    Thank you so much for sharing. The pictures are a wonderful way of treasuring a “moment”. You gender so much warmth with the expression on your face as you are holding Carmel in your arms. I am grateful to see you are back safe and sound. Much love and many hugs

  8. RONALD KRAVIT says :

    Adorable little boy.
    Beautiful diary…
    Mazel tov!!
    Safe travels.

  9. Miriam Rosenstock says :

    God bless little Carmel Louis, his parents, grandparents & the whole mishpucha. .what an adorable bundle of joy

  10. Mara Lewin says :

    Your words resonate with me. How true it is that our world get’s so clouded when we don’t focus on the beauty that is before us in the moment. Thank you for the beautiful words and the outstanding pictures that allow us to share in your joy and see your beautiful family. Welcome to the world Camel Louis!

    • Rabbi Paula Mack Drill says :

      What a perfect reply for a gray, rainy day like today! Above these clouds, the sky is still blue!

  11. Lydia Katz says :

    I have goose bumps looking at the picture of you cuddling Carmel Louis. He is so beautiful and the love on your face matches his beauty. I cannot describe how happy I am for you and Jonathan. I know the feeling. Sarah and Sagi made a beautiful little boy who is goin to bring so many people so much naches. Getting so much from your blog especially in this crazy time. With love and the very best wishes.

  12. Faye Dinowitz says :

    Welcome home. There is nothing like a new baby to bring so much happiness. Thank you for the beautiful Pictures. Mazel Tov to you and your family.

  13. Lesley Lefkowitz says :

    Sending love and Mazel Tov to you, Rabbi Drill and your family. The beautiful pictures of Carmel and you brought smiles to our faces, on this cold and nasty day. Enjoy your new grandson. 💕 Lesley and Rich

    • Rabbi Paula Mack Drill says :

      Todah rabbah! Sure do miss the Tel Aviv sun on a day like this, but the love and smiles override the weather any day!!

  14. Arlene Cox says :

    Mazal tov! So happy you are experiencing the best feeling in the world, grandmotherhood! Carmel is beautiful and we hope he brings you much joy always.

    • Vera Boehm says :

      My watch (time) also stopped just as I stepped off the plane during my dream trip to Israel. May Carmel Louis bring you only naches as this beautiful boy grows to manhood. Kvell, kvell, kvell grandma.

      • Rabbi Paula Mack Drill says :

        So sweet! I hope one day we can take that dream trip to Israel together! I’ll sit next to you on the plane in your dream!

  15. Maxine Skopov says :

    I want to cuddle Carmel, too, and kiss those little cheekies!! He’s precious! I can still feel the thrill of my first grandchild in my arms. (I also remember the ache in those same arms when you’re not with him.) How thankful we are to have the incredible technology such that you can now experience in real time the joy of being with him, Sara and Sagi. We are so thrilled for you and Jon.

  16. Carmel M Rosenthal says :

    So very special! I know you will always have as much love and closeness with this beautiful little boy as shown here.

  17. Susan and Steven Danow says :

    Such a beautiful message! May you continue enjoying all the love and happiness your new grandchild brings! So thrilled for you and your wonderful family!

  18. Lorraine Spivak says :

    Dear Rabbi Drill, Mazel Tov to both you and Jon on the birth of Carmel. May he continue to bring much joy to all the family. Love Lorraine Spivak

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