I am enjoying a rare type of Saturday morning today. Most Saturdays I am up out of bed early on my way to what I term “The Trifecta”. The Trifecta is my Saturday morning moving routine which starts with a run, usually longer than weekdays, then an hour or hour and a half spin class, then off to yoga. This all happens between six and eleven AM. Then I luxuriate in the shower by exfoliating with scrubs and used that Burt’s Bees Wax facial cleanser. This whole routine is a meditation detoxification relaxation.
Today is a day off. Tomorrow I will be running in the Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon. I’ve learned that I perform better when I rest for two days before an event. Yesterday morning, I went on a four-mile walk (I consider this rest) and today I will be strolling around with my youngest son who came home yesterday for the weekend from his boarding school. I plan to take him to PJ’s Pancake House in Princeton. He will have a hamburger. I can have all kinds of carbs since it is the day before race day. I am not big into carb loading but I will have a few extra foods that I normally have on an infrequent basis, like buckwheat pancakes and sausage. If I go overboard on the food, I will feel sick to my stomach and tomorrow will be an ugly event instead of a pleasant run through the streets of Philly finishing at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Last night I went to my first Yom Kippur service. My friend Bonnie invited took me to the synagogue (Beth Shalom Synagogue) in which she grew up , married , bar mitzvah’d her sons, and said good-bye to her son upon his early death. She introduced me to friends she had know since childhood and people who were here parents’ friends and neighbors. The building is gorgeous; it is a historical piece as it was designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. We sat in the seat that her family had purchased years ago (There was a tag with their names on them) We looked at the ladies’ outfits, pretty and ugly, as she scolded herself for gossiping on the holiday. We looked at the men’s suits and the dignified shoes. I listened to the cantor chanting and singing in Hebrew and was in awe as the congregation joined in the singing at the appropriate time. (I also thought “No wonder Jewish people are so intelligent. This Hebrew is like Mandarin. The characters are even different. They all went to Hebrew school before age thirteen and learned this. Amazing.) Of course Bonnie missed a few years of Hebrew school so she is Hebrew illiterate. But she is so cute she can get away with it. If you saw here next to her contemporaries at her synagogue, she is the kind of woman that looks a way mean women hate because she looks great in the face and body and always wears the right outfit.
The special parts of last evening were twofold. First, Bonnie made sure I came up with her to touch the Torah with the holy book she had given me when we arrive at the synagogue and told me to kiss it. For those of us who have never seen this ritual, let me just inform you that the actual Torah at synagogue is several large scrolls which are about four feet tall on wood posts with finial which are encased in canvas and topped with decorative peices of silver that look like different crowns. Several men and a few women carried these around the synagogue as many came forward to touch them. The carriers were obviously honored to have been chosen to do this. As large as they were, they had to have worked out before, and God had to give them the strength for this process that took about twenty minutes.
The second special part of the evening was at the point when Bonnie and I left the service to tour the synagogue. We get on so well because we both have ADD and can take only so much of the religious mumbo jumbo. I’m being respectful though when I say that- I am happy that folks were praying for me and the rest of the world. Bonnie introduced me to the Rabbi Emeritus-Rabbi Landis. His spirit was palpably loving and kind. As I observed him in his regal white rob trimmed in gold, this white haired man welcomed me, told me it was nice to meet me and then said “God Bless You”.
Today I rest my body and my soul is at rest as I have received the blessings. I’ve learned to recognize blessings however they come to me. I walked in a christian life previously. Now my blessing come wrapped very differently. Yesterday I received the blessing from Jewish people. I have received over the past year blessings from Buddhists, Chinese, and Rastafarian. I believe that my soul rest easy now because I understand that blessing come not just from one people, one religion, one place or one way.
Rest and relax on this holiday. God and/or the universe gives to us all. Realize after the rest and relaxation that if you have been given blessing, especially material blessing that you are blessed to bless. I believe that the Jewish people, although they have been through many struggles ,will continue to be blessed in a special way because they bless others. I am a physician and realize that so many of my fellow physicians come from the Jewish tradition. Next time you go to your doctor, Jewish or not, realize that that person has been blessed and they are doing their very best to be a blessed healer.
Today I relax in knowing that God has got my back. The blessing are being thrown at me in many shapes and forms. My eyes and heart are open so now, I do not get bogged down in what the package looks like. I accepted the present and open the gift.
Breathe, Relax. Open the gifts given to you. Ignore the appearance of the packaging.