Fall Down/Get Up

In this week’s parasha, Vayechi, Our patriarchs Yosef/Joseph and Yaakov/Jacob can be models for us in our quest for equanimity during these stressful and frightening times.

Yosef --who suffered so gravely because of his brothers' betrayal-- ultimately came to a place of forgiveness. Yaakov-- who could have disowned his sons for their actions-- was able to come to some sort of resolution.

In my studies with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, the poem/text below was read to us and it moved us deeply.  We hope the humor - as well as the wisdom - of this teaching touches you, too.  It's a selection from Snake Talk, from A Traveling Jewish Theater, written by Naomi Newman. 

I highly recommend you read it aloud to yourself or have someone else read it to you.

To watch this performed on YouTube: click here

Enough of the oy vey! path. Now we are going to fix it. Now we make a new path. 

So. You take a shovel, you take a ground hacker, you take a hairpin. If all you got is a hairpin, take a hairpin and start digging. 

Dig in all directions, up and down, right and left, in and out.

Not in a straight line. Nothing natural or interesting goes in a straight line. As a matter of fact, it is the quickest way to the wrong place. 

And don't try to pretend you know where you are going. Because if you know where you are going, you have been there, and you are going to end up exactly where you came from. 

Okay. So now we are digging. All of a sudden you bump into a stone. Oooh, it's so cute. Un-un. Throw it away like a hot potato. 

You are going to bump into lots of stones, geologically fascinating; stones of blame, resentment, self-pity. Oooh, from these I could build a palace. Forget it. You build from them, what you got is a prison.So you bend down, you pick 'em up, you throw 'em away. Dig a little, pick a little, throw a little, turn; dig a little, pick a little, throw a little, turn... 

Now this is where you got to pay special attention to getting lost.  If you are not lost, you are in trouble. Lost? Good. Sit down, blow your nose, and wait. 

Sometimes you got to wait for a very long time. Until a bird or a stranger comes along with a message. And do you know what you are supposed to do while you're waiting? You are supposed to do...nothing. Nada, zilch, nothing. And if you can do that, if you can do nothing until the right thing comes along, then you have mastered the hardest part of all. 

Okay. So now you are back on the road, nice and easy, no rush, no push, and you take one little step, you take two little steps, you take three little steps, you take... watch out! WATCH OUT! You are about to fall into the puddle of empty manifestation. 

Here on the fourth step you are meant to fall down, not once, not twice, not occasionally, but on every fourth step. The ground opens up, the wind blows, a branch hits you in the head, you trip on stones, you twist your ankle, your heart breaks, you've got to fold the laundry... and they have closed the two left lanes. All of the forces gathered together to stop you. 

And some people, when it happens, they fall down and they lie there for the rest of their lives. But some people learn to fall down/get up. Now that is one move: fall down/get up.

Okay. So now you are on your own way and you notice that with every step you straighten up a little bit. And it hurts. All of the places you've been bending over that got stuck. And don't try to avoid it hurting. Because if you do, you will never straighten up. 

Okay. That's it. That is how you do it. 
You dig, 
you bend down, 
you throw away,
you go in circles,
you get lost,
you wait,
you listen, 
you do nothing,
you fall down/get up;
and inside,
you unfold.

-Naomi Newman

Let's began 2020 realizing that in life "stuff happens." We take a few steps forward, and then we're going to fall down. 

This is not failure. It's how the journey goes. The key is not to stay down on the ground.

"Fall Down/Get Up" IS the way and it's one move. That's how we stay alive to growth.

Shabbat Shalom


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