Love. Kindness. Two good translations of the Hebrew word chesed. If you’re counting the Omer, chesed is the word of the week.
If you haven’t counted the Omer before, here’s a quick primer. https://www.sophiastreet.com/sefirat-haomer-counting-the-omer/
There are many different kinds of love. But today I want to focus on family love. It’s quite present to me in this lockdown. My spouse and I and our young adult son are together all the time. So we’re working on our ability to love all the time. Thus I am glad to reflect on today’s quality: chesed within chesed. Or, as I’ll translate it, the kindness within love.
Some of that kindness comes easily. For example, it’s our habit to speak kind words. We say “please” and “thank you.” Even when someone simply does their household job. Why? Because kindness holds our household system together. We work as a team because we care. Because we want to make each other happy and safe. So, we pay back kindness with kind words. “Thank you” can mean “I appreciate your kindness.”
But some of that kindness isn’t so easy. Some habits are harder to master. Patience, for example. Look, we all have different temperaments. So, we think and feel differently. But we’re stuck doing things together. So, sometimes a relative’s behaviour gets on my nerves. Then I just want to shout, “Why do you always do it this way?” “Can’t you learn do this right?” “Do you have to be so difficult?” But most of the time I don’t shout at all. Because that would not be kind. Instead, it would simply cause hurt. So, out of kindness, I only scream in my mind. And there, I calm myself down, too. “Just let it go,” I tell myself.
It’s a load of inner work. But I—we—do it out of kindness. It’s hard enough, we know, for a person to carry their own thoughts and feelings. So we don’t want drop an extra load on them. Instead, we hold our own feelings. We examine them, facet by facet. Just as this omer practice teaches!
And that’s my aspiration for today. To make reflection, not reactivity, a habit.
Today is the first day of the Omer.