Yesterday (January 4, 2016) again I went shopping. If I were to make a pie chart of my activities since arriving in Jerusalem, shopping would be a big slice. For the missing items that will make this apartment functional. For food. For gifts and ritual objects and books. For the experience of going to the market. For a way to pass time.
And in general, I don’t like shopping.
So yesterday I walk into the underground mega grocery store, fluorescent lights and plastic and aging produce. I’m running again through the familiar anxiety – How can I be WASTING my sabbatical, my precious sabbatical in a Made-In-China mega grocery store? Why am I not solving the Israeli Palestinian conflict? Or at least studying at the feet of a great kabbalah scholar? Or tightening my post partum belly fat in a pilates session? How can I just be shopping AGAIN, and sure to have another of those charming Israeli brushes with rude and aggressive? This is not the Sabbatical I envisioned.
So I return my mind to Sabbatical Lesson Number One – Wherever you go, there you are. Can’t escape yourself. Not even when your job stops and you go across the planet. There you are. You and your family and your head trips and your ability to stress. Even here.
But then I look up and see a perfectly illuminated cherry tomato glowing in its own kind of perfection. Here in the basement. And I remember the corollary to that Lesson. Wherever you go, there you are. AND. Wherever you are, it’s already Gan Eden*.
There is no where else to be. No ungraspable perfection you just have to strive a little more for. It’s all here now in the moment. In a cherry tomato shining in the fluorescent haze. In the piles of uncollected garbage and the stray cats and the passion that makes a person think it’s ok to step in front of you in line and make you wait because SOMETHING is so IMPORTANT to ask NOW. Under the shells we are all glowing souls aflame with Jerusalem energy, breathing our breaths, aware and unaware. Perfect and imperfect.
And when I remember. It is enough. I am enough. This is enough.
A great joy passes through me.
* As one dear colleague pointed out to me, in the face of profound suffering, it might even be cruel to ask a person to call his experience “the Garden of Eden.” This reflection is not meant to minimize anyone’s suffering, or to suggest that real pain is only ‘in your head.’ Rather it is written from a moment of relative ease, noticing the power of even my “first world tsurus” to obscure the beauty and wonder available within the ‘ordinary.’ Perhaps every place can be both Heaven and Hell at once…