Omer 36: God Renews the World

Omer 36: God Renews the World

Day 36: Chesed she’b’Yesod, Fundamental Love

TEXT

Orange sunset over beach and mountains illustration a post about how God renews the world every day

ההַמֵּאִיר לָאָֽרֶץ וְלַדָּרִים עָלֶֽיהָ בְּרַחֲמִים וּבְטוּבוֹ מְחַדֵּשׁ בְּכָל־יוֹם תָּמִיד מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית

[God] the one who lights up the land and those who dwell on it with compassion and through goodness each day always renews the work of creation.

(Shacharit morning prayer, translation mine)

COMMENT

Sunrise, sunset. Day after day. Reliable, beautiful, calming, uplifting. Subtly changing in a seasonal cycle. Within this pattern, we live our lives. Surely, the daily rhythm of light is a foundation of this world.

This prayer of praise seems simple…until you start to think about it.

What kind of light should we imagine when we read it? Sunlight? So, does the prayer say that God causes the sun to shine? And that’s how God renews our energy? So, maybe God is a kind of algorithm powering the cycles of the world (as Ecclesiastes suggests)? Or maybe God is the laws of nature themselves (as Spinoza argued in the Ethics)?

Unless God isn’t a mechanical force, but an intentional one? And, out of compassion, God never takes a day off? Could this stability be the particular goodness with which God renews creation?

Or is the light described here God’s compassion itself? Does the prayer mean that God lights up the world with compassion? Is God then a being of great feeling (as Psalm 145:8-9 suggests)? A being with so much love that it pours out on every creature as a kind of compassion? Is this the goodness with which God renews creation?

QUESTIONS

THOUGHT: Do you think that divine love is a real thing? If so, do you think it sustains the world? How?

PRACTICE: Recite this prayer as if it means to praise God’s steadiness. Do it three times! Then recite the prayer as if it means to praise God’s love. Again, three times.

FEELING: Do you feel differently as you recite each version? Does your mood or focus shift differently?

GOD: When do you imagine (or experience) God as a steady impersonal force? And when do you imagine (or experience) God as a flow of love?


New to the Omer? Here’s a short guide to the theory and practice. And here’s a resource for counting every day.

Image: Solstice sunset, Jericho Beach, by LDK.

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