Friday, April 22, 2011


The term chesed is one I have been familiar with for a while, partly due to The New Seminary, but also partly due to the interim pastor who just left our church, Rev. Alison Jacobs. Her license plate reads CHESED, and she truly lives it. You might be wondering what chesed means; it means loving kindness, but not just the type of loving kindness we have for one another as human beings. It relates strongly to the boundless, infinite loving kindness shown to us by the Divine.

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, in her blog The Velveteen Rabbi, says,
This week I find myself asking: how can I be kinder and more loving? To those I meet -- to the people I know, and the people I don't know -- to those who agree with me, and even those who angrily disagree with me? How can I be kinder to myself -- how can I do the work of discerning what my heart and soul most need, and then kindly and graciously filling that need for myself? Can I feel, deep in my bones, that the universe is a kind and loving place for me to be? Can I extend lovingkindness to myself, and then once I am feeling whole and healed, extend it to those I meet?
 As always, Rabbi Rachel encourages us to look deep inside ourselves. I'm new to the idea of counting Omer, but I'm in a mental/emotional place where taking some time to count my blessings is a good idea. I need to focus on the positive, and this seems like such a wonderful way to do it!

My life is full of love and kindness. Here I am with a broken ankle, and while I'm moving much better now than I was before, sis still fetches and carries for me, and fusses over me to make sure I don't over extend myself. Gray is there to curb my burgeoning enthusiasm for movement, and to hug and hold me when I chafe at my limitations. The children have been awesome about getting me ice packs and bringing me their favorite toys to keep me happy and comforted. I am surrounded in a circle of chesed, unending. Even my own bad temper and inexplicably horrid behavior hasn't broken that circle, something which I am eternally grateful for.

It isn't so easy for me to love myself. Especially right now, I'm struggling with that horrid behavior, trying to find meaning in what I did so that I don't repeat my awful mistake. I'm finding it difficult to forgive myself, and even to accept forgiveness from those I've hurt. I want it, but I'm afraid that if I accept it, I will somehow become egotistical or will forget the bad parts in favor of the forgiveness. I need to find the ability to feel loving kindness toward myself, to allow myself to heal. I also have to express that loving kindness toward my family, who have supported me through all this, and been there even in my darkest moments.

Divine Powers, I pray to feel and accept the chesed expressed toward me, and to treat others with as much loving kindness as I can bear. Help me to find the balance between guilt and healing, so that I may move forward in service to all. Amen.
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