Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Still Center Of A Restless Mind

Can't sleep. I tried giving in to dreams, then reading, then a drink of water, and now finally, reluctantly, A Whispering Soul. There is too much quiet. Not the comforting quiet of lights closed in a warm house at night, but the unsettling quiet of a restless, searching mind.

I had a wonderful weekend with 'laizer, savior of souls, in from the Holy Land; shabbat and muffins and gourmet meals with the Muffin Dude and his family in Boston; an impromptu meeting with Kenju, who it turns out lives next door to the Muffin Dude; dinner with a Rav who exudes emes; hitbodedut by a Connecticut river, complete with dancing and mosquito bites; Torah to make your heart ache for more Torah and for Israel; and Chassidic stories of such delicacy and beauty, that they demanded moments of deep reflection and savoring.

And yet, four days later, there is this unsettling quiet. Nothing is amiss. No downward spiral of regret and despair, only an aching stillness. I suppose I am tired. Tired of waiting - for my zivug, for real life to begin. I am wistful for Eretz Yisrael, the vibrant purple flesh of a freshly cut pitaya in the shuk, the winding alleyways of mystery in Nachlaot, faces of friends I have not seen in years now, negotiations in sherut/taxi cabs, the cold stone of the kotel as I press my cheek against it, running through tall grass in the Galil, the one extending rock in Bat Ayin you can see forever from.

Where is the voice telling me my wife is out there, the one telling me that my children are waiting patiently to be born, the one telling me that there is a place for me, that my role, my contribution, my story is yet to emerge, and that when it does it will be true and clear and brilliantly defeaning in its rightness? Where is the voice, my voice, telling me Jerusalem is still there for me?

It is that kind of quiet.

The quiet between knowing where you are not - both literally and figuratively - and accepting it. It is the quiet of being single and being far away from your makom; the quiet of unreached potential and thwarted artistry; the quiet of Torah yet unfound; the quiet of a cry originating deep within the soul, recognizable only by its brokenness.

A beautiful teaching from a Rav met in Boston: The only thing a Jew has to keep him from being alone in this world is shabbos. HaShem sometimes plays hard to get, hides Himself from view. But shabbos? Every seven days guaranteed.

In reading this entry back, it feels permeated by sadness, but that is not reflective of my present frame of mind, at least not in the Smashing Pumpkins sense. It is the good kind of wistfulness, the kind that creates movement and flow. And there is great joy and peace in being able to name the aching stillness: it is loneliness and longing - for her (my zivug) and for her (Jerusalem) and for her (Torah) and for realizations yet to come.

And with peace, sleep...