Week 1 - Chesed - Omer 5778

The Mystery calls, I take you out into the expanse, I free you, because I desire you. -- Psalm 18:20

We begin the Omer journey in the realm of Chesed--abundant, generous love.

We begin with the call to continue to shed habits and ways of being that are no longer true or helpful, to let go of stories, thoughts and routines that keep us bound.

Life itself is calling us. Life itself desires our presence, our becoming, our growth.

Come out into the expanse and be received in love.

Who wouldn’t want to step out into the expanse of Chesed?  Who wouldn’t want to be in the overflow of love? And yet, stepping out isn’t always simple. Leaving what is known, habitual, comfortable is not always easy, even when these habits or thoughts no longer serve us.

As we begin the first week of the Omer, we take note of our own vulnerability and the vulnerability of others. And we set an intention to act with gentleness and care, to treat ourselves and each other kindly, remembering we are each doing the best we can in each moment.

During this week of Chesed we also take note of the soft green shoots breaking through the hard ground, the buds that are slowly appearing on trees and the new flowers beginning to blossom. The life force that is calling these green shoots to break through the earth is the same force that is calling each of us to grow and become.

It can be painful sometimes to break into something new. It can be frightening to blossom and grow. That is all the more reason to take care this week, to be gentle with others and ourselves.

As we enter the Omer journey during this time of Chesed:
     Let us notice and give thanks for the new growth coming forth from the earth.
     Let us give thanks for moments of love and connection.
     Let us practice being forgiving with ourselves and each other.
And when we have a hard time forgiving, let us be forgiving about that.

Let us remember that along with every tree, plant, rock and bird, along with each and every being, we are being called forth to grow and become. We are all life’s desire. And our blossoming brings beauty and goodness into the world.

During this week of Chesed, we practice lovingkindness toward ourselves and others with our words and actions. Engaging in a blessing practice every day strengthens our capacity to do so.

Practice for the Week of Chesed:

Sitting, we bring ourselves to an awake and upright posture and let the attention rest gently on the breath. After a few moments, we begin focusing attention on ourselves and gently say:

May I be blessed with peace.

May I be blessed with well-being.

May I be blessed with love.

We then call forth or let arise in our minds people in our lives and say for each of them in turn:

May you be blessed with peace.

May you be blessed with well-being.

May you be blessed with love.

We then call forth or let arise in our minds different aspects of the natural world, birds, trees, rivers and say for each of them in turn:

May you be blessed with peace.

May you be blessed with well-being.

May you be blessed with love.

We close the sit by saying:

May all beings be blessed with peace.

May all beings blessed with well-being.

May all beings be blessed with love.

--Rabbi Yael Levy

Every year, the Counting of the Omer is the same and different. The tradition remains constant and it is also changed by who we are each year and what is happening in our own lives, in the life of our communities, our country and the world.

For Omer 5778/2018, we are offering additional teachings to sustain and guide us. At the beginning of every new Omer week, we will post these offerings along with the daily Omer teaching. We hope they will enhance your Omer journey.

The Omer teachings you see here and can receive as nightly email reminders by signing up for our mailing list, are taken from Rabbi Yael Levy's Omer guide, Journey through the Wilderness, which is available as a whole in print or as an ebook.

The daily teachings begin Tuesday March 31 and continue to Shavuot, May 19. A Way In also invites you to join us for our annual retreat in the high desert of New Mexico for the last days of the Counting.

The practice as well as Rabbi Yael were featured in a 2015 New York Times article.



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