28 Tamuz, 5775
This week I’ve been taking my son to a band camp in Danville, a 45-minute drive from home. Since the drive is so long, I’m staying out there rather than driving back and forth, davening and working in my car while the camp happens.
Danville is bit hotter than Oakland, and there are fewer trees as well, so there aren’t many places to park my car in the shade and stay cool. Today, while driving around a neighborhood looking for shade, I found a tiny tree that could at least partially shade my car. I parked there and rolled the windows down.
This is was fine for the first couple hours, but then it started getting really hot, so I rolled up the windows, turned on the car, put on the air conditioner and continued to work. After a few minutes, I was surprised by how ineffective the air conditioner was.
Then, I was startled by a noise coming from the backseat. I twisted around to see what was going on and realized- I had neglected to roll up the back windows! No wonder it wasn’t getting any cooler. All the cold air was blowing into the car and right back out the window.
Spiritual life can be like that too sometimes.
You might be trying to “cool down” your anger or impulsiveness, or maybe you need to “heat up” your enthusiasm for your daily practice and your passion for moving into connection with the present, or for living and serving with your whole being. And yet, even with the best intentions, transformation might elusive.
In that case, it is possible that you’ve left the window open. All your best intentions are “blowing right out the window!”
How do you “roll up the window” and make the most out of the power of your intention without wasting it?
This week’s reading begins- “Ish ki yidor neder laShem- if a person takes a vow to the Divine- o hishava sh’vua lesor isar al nafsho- or swears an oath to prohibit something upon oneself… k’khol yotzei mipiv ya’aseh- according to everything that comes out of one’s mouth, one shall do…”
Why would someone want to take an oath or make a vow?
Because verbally saying your intention- and even repeating it often- is a powerful way to “shut the window.” Just because you have an intention one moment, that doesn’t mean that your brain will constantly be connected to that intention, especially if the intention goes against your habits. For that, you need to create a new pattern in your nervous system so that the intention doesn’t “fly out the window” as life unfolds in real time.
So, if want to transform, put the transformation in your mouth! And then, repeat it often. That way, when the flow of life tends to confuse and distract, you will be solid as a rock. If your intention is clear to yourself, nothing can shake you.
Stay tuned- soon I will be offering a new course of study to put the power of intention and commitment to work for you.
Until then, Good Shabbos and bless you.
May the Divine that is your deepest self come to more and more obvious expression in all your life!