Everyone I see should be smiling. A few of them are. Most of them aren’t, and I feel sorry for them, caught up in the distractions of earthly existence and overlooking the miracles that surround them.
Such is the human condition: the eyes betray the soul, and the heart grows deaf to its own inner voice, which vanishes into the rumble of routine that drums out the exhilaration of each new moment.
It should be easier here at the eye of the universe, and indeed it is. But easier is a relative term, and a hundred pounds might as well be a hundred tons when our muscles have atrophied from disuse. Just the same, in the absence of spiritual discipline, spirituality itself remains a cliché, a meaningless abstraction or, at best, a mere footnote in the narrative of life, an asterisk relegated to indices of the Sabbath, the Festivals, and the House of Worship.
Such an insidious lie. Such an insipid deception.
The Jewish liturgy begins each day with a series of 15 blessings acknowledging the gifts of fundamental existence and identity. How fortunate we are to have eyes that can behold the beauty of our world, limbs that can carry us to the corners of the earth, minds capable of discerning light from dark and good from evil; how reassured we are to commit ourselves to a higher purpose, to recognize that path we are meant to follow, and to trust the guiding Hand that gently steers us toward the fulfillment of our destiny; how much reason we have to rejoice that we are able to master our own passions, to summon the strength to meet failure with determination, and to discover new inspiration everyday amidst the monotony of life in the material world.
Yet still we forget. Even here in this place where heaven and earth kiss, even here at the focal point of human history, human nobility, and human aspiration. Too much light can blind even more effectively than too much darkness.
In the Old City of Jerusalem, the center of Creation, and in the ancient village of Tzefat, home of the greatest kabbalists of the last 500 years, the tension between the past and the present gives way to a supernal harmony that radiates from every rock and tree, that grows stronger as you turn every corner and pass through every archway. The voices of ages gone by whisper always in your ear, if you remember to listen for them.