How To Prescribe Order Around Your Life Meadow.
Recently, I asked my friend Alex to write a guest post. Alex is a long lost friend from a distant time. Our paths have crossed minimally over the years, but we have important memories together. She is a dear friend. When an e-mail popped up from her unexpectedly last week, I knew it was important to ask her to write about what she creates in her life. She said, "I don't think of myself as creative and don't know what I have to offer."
And yet she wrote the beautiful piece below on how she does create in her life.
It's a great reminder that religion is a very deep vein. It creates a woven fabric of culture through our lives. It sparks traditions, carries families, and makes history, but most importantly this piece proves we are all genuinely creative.
Enjoy this lovely piece from Alex.
Passover is the holiday where Jews celebrate freedom from being enslaved by Pharoah. It takes place over a full week where we don't eat anything that has risen like bread or pasta. It is because people left ancient Egypt in a hurry and didn't have time to wait for bread to rise.
It's my favorite holiday.
The holiday kicks off with Seder. Seder means "order" and encompasses a full evening of rituals. Sedar is observed with friends and family tightly squeezed around a long table. The Seder starts at sunset and ends before midnight.
We follow a book called a Haggadah. It's filled with detailed instructions such as “dip the parsley twice in salt water while reciting the following blessing” and “drink your glass of wine while leaning to the right.” Everything is in an order and has its place. Every Seder throughout history and around the world follow that same order. The order includes a designated time for washing hands, praying, singing, drinking, asking questions, eating dinner, teaching, relaxing.
I have always loved the uniqueness of the ancient rituals, the familiarity of the music and the predictable structure of the holiday. As I started my shopping list this weekend, I couldn't help wonder why a holiday, which celebrates freedom from slavery, requires such a high degree of rigid observance. Shouldn't we be declaring ourselves free people by ACTING free from lots and lots of rules? By the nature of the holiday, shouldn’t we get to do whatever we want? Why do we choose to celebrate freedom from oppression with a Seder?
When I thought more about the question of freedom and what makes us free, I remembered a proverb a High School teacher once shared with me.
In other words, sometimes by limiting the space you operate in, you are freeing yourself up to discover, enjoy and appreciate what's there around you. Perhaps an unlimited, “open field” doesn’t always give us the choices and opportunities we desire. I know that when I tell my children to “find something to do” they reply with an assortment of “there’s nothing to do” or “I’m boooored.”
Last week I told my kids to each grab a notebook and write a letter to any person, place or thing in history. In a rare parenting win, the kids buckled down for 30 minutes. Soon, they shared hilarious letters written to baseball pitcher Sandy Koufax, our dog Freddy, and a piece of sushi. It turns out that by limiting choice, it gave them a starting point, a focus, and the freedom to explore their unique ideas.
It’s also true that there is still plenty to create at the Seder. Each year what to make is a challenge. There are lots of delicious and still “Kosher for Passover” foods that force us to be creative with almond flour and matza farfel, trying new vegetables and many many uses for the potato.
This year we are welcoming new neighbors to our table who are bringing one of their famous family dishes. Last week, my kids built bright "10 plagues" centerpieces. New recipes, people, traditions, memories.
Whatever your belief or observance, I wish you a chance to create a bit of Seder - a prescribed order or fence around your life meadow. May it enable you to experience freedom from a newly aware and grateful seat around the table.
Until tomorrow friends.