06 April: Praxis Journal, Day Six

turkey-shawarma-with-tomato-relish-and-tahini-sauce-940x600
It was turkey shawarma day in the cafeteria, always a favorite of mine. It made today even better!

Today was simply a glorious day.

It being Advisement Day certainly helped that fact, and I’m already looking forward to next week’s Advisement Day for some more productivity and relaxation.

However, today was also highly satisfying because I managed to follow pretty much all of my practices. I know: finally, right?

I still misspoke and let the Divine Name pass my lips or feature prominently in my thoughts today, but the slip-ups occurred much less frequently than the past days. Pork was definitely not eaten today (I still want to kick myself over those hot dogs), and meat and dairy were certainly kept separate for at least three hours. I even got up and stayed up at midnight last night/this morning and prayed with more than a modicum of attention and sincerity. I also managed to say thanks after each meal, actually pause and silence myself for prayer, and relax with a good book for a spell. The best part is that, after this journal entry, I am done for the night. All that’s waiting me is pre-sleep rituals, some prayer, and perhaps a little reading. For someone so stereotypically elderly in sleeping patterns as me, this is about as blissful as a day can get.

So what did I learn today?

  1. New practices take a while to catch on with humans, at least for this one. The reason my other religious and non-religious rituals are so easy for me to remember and near effortless for me to carry out are that I have done them for years or, at the very least, months. I couldn’t observe these practices regularly or easily when I decided to start them, and I still do not/cannot perform them perfectly each day. I imagine – in fact, I know from reading – that Jacobs faced the same challenges in following all of his rules. Granted, he had way more to follow than me, but he also was not a college student involved in a myriad of organizations. Yes, I chose these commitments, but I’m still going to give myself a little more slack than I did yesterday.
  2. Like Jacobs, I find a lot of enjoyment in ritual, most likely because I have or live on the margins of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). It’s not only this, however. These practices, especially the midnight prayer and thanksgiving after meals, take me out of myself for a time, and these times, no matter how brief, are extraordinarily refreshing. My vision refocuses, maybe because my more spiritual personality comes to the fore like Jacobs’ “Jacob” or maybe because they simply refocus on what is truly real and important. I recognize how blessed I am to have food, lots of food, and lots of healthy food around me, and I also realize how many people and processes go into all this food, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. I rise in the night and am thankful that I can rise at all, and I feel that even the night, so often seen as malignant and opposed to the Divine, carries a sacred, hushed quality very conducive to pondering, as noted several times in the Psalms (4, 77, and 119, for example). Here’s Jacobs speaking of a similar feeling: “Ive noticed that I sometimes walk around with a lighter step, almost an ice-skating-like glide, because the ground feels hallowed. All of the ground, even the ground outside the pizzeria near my apartment building” (153). Again, mysticism starts with noticing the Divine in and behind the ordinary things of life and praising this extraordinary presence of the Divine.
  3. Not having the ability to act on any urges to go on Facebook or Snapchat and while away the minutes or hours is a relief, in a sense. I’ve never had a serious problem with scrolling endlessly through Facebook or sending snaps ad nauseam, but I have a better focus when I don’t interrupt my work or more traditional relaxation with them. I wonder if Jacobs ever picked up Snapchat, or if he still self-Googles. I would bet “yes” on at least the latter.
  4. One reasons Jacobs might have freely written G-d so much in his book is that he was not uttering another Divine Name, the Name, the Name the Divine revealed to Moses in the burning bush and that Jesus repeated centuries later. Maybe that’s the case, maybe not.
  5. Spring can come in full force any day now. Rain today was a huge improvement over snow, however, so I give thanks to Heaven for that.

Tomorrow is my last full day of observing my practices. I have trouble believing this week has gone so fast and is already drawing to a close. I pray that I may observe these rules even better tomorrow and that, as I always pray, I may grow closer to the Divine. May the latter occur for you, as well, reader. Thank you, and have a blessed night! ~

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