Yesod. Foundation. Yesod she’b’chesed. Pouring a foundation for love. With a little bit of Hod, gratitude, thrown in.
How do we create a foundation for love? Surely there’s no right answer. Because people speak many different love languages. And relationships grow in all kinds of soil. (If I may carelessly mix metaphors here.)
So here is just one answer: by learning to appreciate those we love. And also those we don’t love, but at least hope to like.
Benedictine spiritual teachers say: gratitude grounds our relationship with God.
What do they mean? Sit down when you’re in a funk, make a list of things you’re grateful for, and you’ll see. Gratitude lifts us out of constricted consciousness. Connects us with something greater.
So, here’s an analogy. A loose one, but maybe a helpful one.
Appreciation grounds our human relationships. When we turn our attention to what others do right, not what they do wrong, friendship is easier.
I have worked on my appreciation skills for many years. One technique is careful speech. I try to speak in a positive way. Not: Your paper is all over the place. But: You’re interested in so many things! Not: You left the dishes for me again! But: I see how absorbed you are in your work.
Words are more tangible than thoughts or feelings. So, first I worked on my habits of speech. Then, because I had to think more carefully before I spoke, my habits of thought changed. And, because emotions are interpreted sensations, my feelings changed too.
So it’s easier, now, to be grounded in that happy place. Here, I am less easily upset. Less irritated, less angry. More appreciative, more loving.
But this approach is not for everyone. In fact, I’ve been criticized for it.
A congregant once said, “I wish were you more like righteously angry Moses and less like peacemaking Aaron.”
A colleague regularly rolls his eyes and says, “You are far more generous than I am.”
A friend often says, “You give people the benefit of the doubt too often.”
Even my daughter sometimes says, “Stop it, Mom!”
When do I get to reflect on the humour in love? On how much fun difference can be? Which day of Omer reflection will evoke that?
Can’t wait to find out!
Today is the 6th day of the Omer.
New to the Omer Count? Here’s a primer.