Saturday, April 16, 2011

Yearning, Chaos, Messiness...

"Don't we all want life to make sense? To find some underlying purpose to the continuous ups and downs, the fear and the joy, the accomplishments and the disappointments? ... we want to know "what it all means," as if there were some ultimate wisdom that could ease our striving and uncertainty. The sages encourage us to study life for clues and act as if that understanding were possible. Jewish wisdom sanctions the yearning, even ennobles it, at the same time teaching that there is no meaning: only a kind of dance between meaning and ambiguity; understanding and misunderstanding; faith and doubt; essence and no-essence. And the more joyous the dance, the richer and more holy the life.

We may all accept this intellectually, even think it's obvious. But how many of us see our daily challenges - a disagreement with a loved one, a deadline, even a traffic jam - as holy? Never mind major disappointments or crises; those eruptions of chaos. We relish order, neatness, resolution. We forget that life has no straight lines or easy paths. The process of becoming is circuitous, to say the least. Yet so many of us expend endless energy wishing and trying to make it otherwise. We long for those happy times of satisfaction, even celebration, of feeling like all is well, balanced, and fulfilling. During these times we can look back on our lives, even the tough times, and see all that led us here as somehow necessary and right. Life does have a purpose after all.

And we can't help but be surprised when those happy times don't last. We believe families are supposed to get along. Faces are not supposed to get wrinkles. We judge people when they don't "have it together," especially ourselves. In short, most of us think that life is supposed to work out the way we hope it will or even expect it to. We secretly want the kitchen to be finally clean. And yet, if the kitchen was always clean, there would be no meals."

(excerpt from Yearnings, Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life, Rabbi Irwin Kula)

going to do the dishes ;)


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