Embracing Joy

woman surrounded by sunflowers

January 2022    Adar 1 5782 


Just as winter deepens and spirits dampen in the bitter cold, the new moon of the Hebrew month of Adar invites our inner child out to play. We huddle in our homes protecting ourselves from Covid, from the wind and snow, from the multitude of challenges besetting us. This is precisely the time to open our arms wide, to break free from the contractive state that blocks the flow of creative energy and recover the joy we can claim for ourselves.

laughing baby floating on air
Photo by Aleksandr Balandin on Pexels.com

I just spent two weeks with my three year-old grandson rediscovering the world through his eyes. Every stone and rock, each seashell and wave are miracles of nature to amaze and delight, to explore and celebrate. Through the unfiltered vision of Henry, I can see the fluidity between all living things, the interconnection between the material and spiritual worlds that we are invited to experience in this month of Adar.

The ancient wisdom of Kabbalah teaches us that the One created this world for joy and love, not for suffering. Yet it is through suffering that we deepen our understanding and compassion and keep our hearts open to each other and the world. 

In The Book of Joy, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu write, “No dark fate determines the future. We do. Each day and each moment, we are able to create and re-create our lives and the very quality of human life on our planet. Lasting happiness resides only in the human mind and heart.”

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to stand in the presence of both of these wise and holy men. I heard them laugh and bring a lightness to their presentations that communicated an expanded perception of reality, not weighed down by suffering, though both had been imprisoned and abused.  They found a way to release the trauma they had experienced and step into the flow of light. 

lady in beach silhouette during daytime photography
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Many of us experienced our Rebbe, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, exude that same childlike wonder and lightness more and more as he aged. There is something about the aging process that can return us to the joy of childhood if we are able to forgive ourselves and others for transgressions and embrace life wholeheartedly, recognizing we are graced with this one precious life on this planet for just a few short decades.

It is possible for us as individuals, as a nation, and global community to meet the challenges we are facing head on through our intelligence and will. This is what Jane Goodall, another wise elder, implores us to do in her recent writings. We can learn from our elder sages and our children how to find joy in the mystery and marvel of the natural world that is the foundation of all life. Adar invites us, once again, to smile and embrace the miracle of life with gratitude and delight. Can there be any better way to warm our hearts during this frigid month?