Thursday, September 22, 2011

Earth Etude for 25 Elul

The Edge Effect

In the Talmud the rabbis raise the question of what is meant by the statement found in the Mishnah “One who does a fixed prayer does not do prayer of supplication.” One explanation given is that our prayer lacks true supplication when it is not done “with the reddening of the sun.” While on one level the rabbis may be referring to the need for one to be earnest in one’s prayer in order for it to be supplicatory, there may be a deeper level to their words.

It seems that here the rabbis are also emphasizing the importance of being awake to the daily moments of transition, of remaining grounded in ourselves through the discomfort of not knowing what will come next and the fear of no longer being rooted to where we once were. Like the gradual shift as the sun reddens and night gives way to day, praying at this transitory time may be being offered as a daily practice for us to remain present, conscious, and grounded through life’s changes.

What is so special about praying at the border between dark and light? Evidence of the power of the edge between two things is visible every moment in our environment. The “edge effect” is found at the boundary between two ecological systems where we find the highest levels of synergism, biological activity and diversity.

May our prayers and introspections during this time of Elul be a gentle call to us to remain conscious through the challenge of transitions in our lives. As we spiritually prepare to for the High Holy Days, may we be lifted up by the incredible energy, synergy, and beauty of the in between places. And, during this auspicious period, may we embrace our time between boundaries, staring out over the edge of endless possibilities.

Adina Allen is a 4th year rabbinical student at Hebrew College and a current Wexner Fellow. She is an active urban homesteader, a certified yoga instructor, and an alum and current board member of Adamah: the Jewish Environmental Fellowship. Adina teaches and speaks about engaging the Jewish community in reimagining the world we want to live in by combining text study, innovative ritual practice, and sustainable living skill development.

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