Sunday, May 1, 2016

Omer Count Time Again!

I have gotten a slow start to this year's Omer Count - the 49-day period of mindfulness practice between the second night of Passover and Shavuot, the festival of Revelation at Sinai. People have been counting the Omer a long time.  You can see from the contemporary counting chart above that the secret is the intersecting of two qualities with each other so that each day is a unique combination. 

Flying across the country with a terrible cold, evenings in airports, mixed up time zones, and needing to sleep a lot was not conducive to Omer counting.   It was all worth it for having spent the beginning of Passover with my daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons in San Diego!  

In 2014 I wrote on one of my Omer Count Visual Journal pages "Last night I was sick and fell asleep before I counted so counted this morning.  Even the awareness of having missed it last night counts...The desire to count counts."  From that point of view I did manage to count.

Jewish mystics of the 16th and 17th centuries turned what had been a Spring agricultural festival into an opportunity for deep spiritual practice, guided by the qualities of the lower seven of the ten Sefirot, or Divine emanations. These Kabbalistic Sephirot are shown above. They are often shown corresponding to points in the body, as below:

Being dyslexic, I find this confusing.  E.g. Chesed, or Lovingkindness corresponds to the right arm.  In the image above it is on the right, but is actually the person's left arm.  

In this image, Chesed does correspond with the person's right arm, but since he is facing us it is on the left.  The image below works best for me:  Chesed is on the right and correlates with the person's right arm because he is facing away from us. 

Friday night, Shabbat, began the 7th day, making one week of the Omer.  I had not been well enough to make any new visual journal pages to go with my counting, but at least realized that I needed to move my counting materials out of my office and down to my studio, near my art materials! It helped to finally feel well enough to get to my studio at all. 

Today, is still the 8th day.  It won't be day 9 until sunset tonight, so it is still Chesed within Gevurah / Lovingkindness within Discipline.  Counting the Omer makes one very aware of counting days from sunset to sunset.  It feels good to have started my visual journal for this year's Omer count this afternoon.  Six more weeks to go! 

This beautiful ancient Omer counting chart is a reminder that this is a very old journey.  I'm grateful it is being made new again, by people like Rabbi Yael Levy, who introduced me to it in 2011.  Her book, Counting the Omer, A Journey Through the Wilderness, has been one of my maps ever since.

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