Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Rabbi’s December Project

Joyce Sasse's Spiritual Gleanings

Christmas / Hanukkah lights got us through the longest nights of the year. But the darkness of depression, pain and anger can still hang heavy.

If we hardly notice lengthened days, thoughts from Rabbi Zalman’s book “The December Project” may be helpful. Through his life the Rabbi found ways to support others when they faced the rough spots. Now, when age and cancer have caught up with him, he writes from the inside-looking-out.

“I’ve still got some mileage left,” he says, “but the end is getting closer. I can hear the footsteps!” His prayer, “Please, when I get old don’t cast me away … You’ve seen me through many trouble spots. Come back to me, invigorate me. From the low depression lift me up. Increase my sense of worth …”

He clings to reality when dealing with pain. “I am in this body, but it’s not what constitutes me.” He advises us to acknowledge the pain … the fear … the anger … the sadness. Stay with it for a while, and it will pass. You may even have to rant or cry or punch something to release the steam … Then move on to treasure life.

About the loneliness, try to develop contemplative tools such as prayer, meditation and reflection. That’s when we can invite God to spend time with us – the quiet, cozy time of just being together. “You (God) have helped me to turn loneliness into precious solitude. What a wonderful privilege this is.”

How important to learn forgiveness by repairing the harm you’ve done to others … by forgiving people who’ve harmed you … and by forgiving yourself. “If you experience intense regret, that’s what the fires of hell are!” It’s tough, but learn from the oyster who uses the irritant under its shell to produce a pearl.

This is how we grow. We can’t stay within the old skin. “We come from God … and we are returning to God.”

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