Transitions Peaceful and Powerful

Once again I found that the chapters I had set out to write about provided an inspiring lens through which to view current events, and, in particular, the beginning of the primary season in the US. Reading chapter 5 “Keeping Score: Making Judgments Without Becoming Judgmental,” chapter 6 “Mosquechurchagogue: Finding Unity Not Forcing Uniformity” and chapter 7 “The Bishop of Auschwitz: When the Whole Really Is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts” of You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right as voters in Iowa are set to go to the caucuses, the first of a set of rituals which will culminate in the peaceful transfer of executive power, made it abundantly clear that we have the tools necessary create a better future, if only we can grasp them.

As part of a conversation about how best to move toward that future, I want to draw your attention to another transition ritual, the Havdalah ceremony described by Hirschfield in chapter 7. The Havdalah signifies the end of the Shabbat and the start of the week ahead, and, in Hirschfield’s words, “marks a new beginning, an opportunity to reenter the world and reengage in the work of making our world a better place.” (p. 161) He goes on to explain the symbolism of the objects used in the ceremony and from these ideas I’ve built several questions for you to consider:

  • The flame of the braided, multi-wicked Havdalah candle represents “our ability to create and build” (p. 163) – how are you seizing the chance to create and build during the transitions in your life?
  • The smelling of sweet spices calls on us to “[breathe] in deeply and [search] out the opportunities for such sweetness even in the most unexpected places” (pp. 163-164) – where might beauty and joy lie, if only you were open to sensing their presence?
  • The wine being blessed “does not grow on vines; it requires human partnership to unleash the full potential of all that we find in the world around us” (p. 164) – who or what is waiting for you to reach out in partnership and what potential might this fulfill?

As in my last post on this book, Mercy,forgiveness and resolutions for the new year, I’d advise you not to be concerned about whether your acts will have earth-shattering effects, simply be mindful that small steps, if taken by each of us every day, will add up to real change.

I’d like to close with one more quote:

“We will figure out that the challenge is never how to get us all into a single room, but how to build a structure with enough rooms for everyone, rooms in which to live out our lives safely and pursue the happiness to which we all aspire, with the awareness that standing in each of them comes with both challenges and gifts.” p. 154

Make of your room a welcoming place and take the risk to explore the rooms of others – let’s inaugurate a new era of understanding and mutual respect where we share both our challenges and our gifts.

Photo from Avital Pinnick
Creative Commons License
The Diversity Dividend by Katherine W Hirsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Transitions Peaceful and Powerful