We gazed at the moon, and heralded the end of Shabbat, the day of rest. We blessed the wine, the candlelight, the scents of the earth, put our arms around each other’s waists and welcomed a new week with a song I used to sing in a whisper to my children when they were young: "shavua tov, shavua tov -- a good week, a week of peace, may gladness reign and joy increase."
It was a beautiful bar mitzvah ceremony and party, on the night of the fullest, brightest moon of the year, and, coincidentally, on the summer solstice, so it was also the longest day of the year, and the one with the most light.
For me, it harkened back to the darkest, shortest day and night of the year, just six months ago, when I was sitting on the precipice of change.
I’m still not sure what has been the hardest transition for me, in this season of many transitions. Moving back into full-time work, with office and managerial responsibilities? Turning 50? Lying in wait for my oldest child to graduate from high school and begin his college career?
These big three seem to have all collided … and colluded to make me feel very unsteady over these past six months.
But there are other issues, more subtle, at work here as well.
I am losing my grip on that which has fed me for many years – the religious community I have called home. Between some difficult community-based issues, and my own questioning of why I would pray when I am a non-believer and prayer is not a channel for me, I have been feeling angry, disconnected -- unhappy and untethered. I have been taking a break.
I am also watching my body change before my eyes. Yes, weight lost and weight gained, the usual up and down pattern for me. But my 50-year-old body is really different not only from the body I remember of my youth, but even the stalwart of a few years ago. These are not mommy/baby changes, but rather mid-life woman changes. Rounder, no matter how much I work out. Shifting shapes. It’s not all bad – just surprising.
And finally, there is the giant path ahead. The realization that my identity as a mother is changing. My kids are growing up – I no longer need to find ways to entertain them, nor do I need to have one ear pricked up like a puppy whenever they are around. If we do our jobs correctly as parents, we become obsolete. But I guess I didn’t realize that it happened while the children were still at home.
All of these many changes have been interplaying in a giant, complex web of emotion and physicality. But I think it is smoothing out at last.
Much like my youngest child, who, because he is the youngest in his class, seems to chafe at transitional years and needs some time to right himself again, I am feeling like I’ve been chafing for months. But the light and the heat are soothing me and reminding me of what’s actually working.
When we wrapped our arms around each other and swayed at havdalah, basking in the light of the full moon, we were in a liminal place. The place between sunset and moonlight, between light and darkness, between rest and the work week, between old and new again.
There’s limninality in all of our lives. Spaces between what was and what is to come. Jews around the world hang a small, decorative object, a mezuzah, with a prayer scroll inside, on their doorframes, and place their fingertips on it and kiss it whenever they enter or leave a room. The moment in the doorway is liminal – taking a step from one room to another.
That is much like our own lives. We move from room to room, from inside to outside and back inside again. Perhaps it’s good practice, as we take these steps, to stop and take a second to mark a figurative mezuzah, as we move from one place to another, so that we are aware of where we are going and where we have been.
Photo by bilbord99 via Flickr