“Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.”
Just a few weeks ago, a month and some days, found me utterly upended, as I came upon a crossing of ruptured waters and melted membrane. I was unsuspecting really, at the threshold of 2019. The thin place between years was not a celebration, but a collision.
Four and a half years we waited in wonder, for home and hearth.
Folded by flowers and light, food and music, we discovered deeper beauty, incorruptible joy. This was not an event, it was an appointment.
The Barn was arrayed in linens and lights. And we were all adorned in flow and fabric. But it wasn’t the finery that undid. It was the truth that the array of color and cloth simply unveiled we carriers of Heaven’s ravish and reality. True beauty was broken open, there was no barren place.
From within our long awaited sacred space, the garden grew. It extended beyond what we try to hide and hope to bear. Spirit and truth cracked every facade and who we were, who we are came out of concealment. No longer could how Heaven sees and speaks of us, be contained.
The unlatching of all, unfastened me completely. I still can’t fully look back into that evening without tears. When I give way to a glance in, it is Kat, Joy and Nun who grace the cover of the scrapbook. They most certainly looked beautiful, each unique. But it was the truth that they were beautiful, that they saw themselves that way, not in mirror but Heaven’s eyes, that moved me so.
I’ve heard a multiplied many say there was a shift that began “since New Years”. I don’t know if all have yet reckoned with the happening that held us, chose and changed us. Nestled in that night was the truth that we became heirs of a unique kind of joy. Heirs of the inability to be separate again. Beneficiaries of the beauty of nothing between us.
All I know, is that I still and steadily see the each and every of us, how we were that night. How we are eternally.
I cannot, not be moved.
My thought, the one that kept knocking on my heart was, “How do we carry this on?”
And then last night answered. Shabbat of Winter Tea. It happened again. Incorruptible joy. Some fierce portion of His goodness given. An inheritance that can’t be taken away. I was awakened in the night trembling rapt and readied for the testimonies that would come fresh with the morning.
The reckless rhythms and refrains drew us, but unity chose us and we chose it back. And in the dusk and dawn between then and now, I realized something. We have become undignified.
Undignified doesn’t mean out of hand or outlandish. It means to remove everything that separates.
When King David was defined with this word, it meant he removed everything that identified him as different. He removed his robe, his crown. He dethroned all that marked him as king, and became one with his people.
This is what is happening among us. When we dethrone what is different and allow a draw instead of a divide, we begin to stand together in the kingdom of love. Unhinged from “ours” we urge “us”. Into our hands are placed the reins of His reign. And the chariot of that choosing, moves us. Together.
Either the day must come when joy prevails and all the makers of misery are no longer able to infect it, or else, for ever and ever, the makers of misery can destroy in others the happiness they reject for themselves. -C.S. Lewis
As the days swept swift, as days do, in a year fresh and fragile, I found a phenomenon tucked inside. A Hebrew leap year. And I asked Him to show me something I hadn’t before in a year with a unique motion. An undignified leap.
Hebrew months are either 29 or 30 days long, where the Gregorian months are 30 to 31 days in length. So, a Hebrew year contains 354 days, while the Gregorian has 365, creating a 11 day differential or lag. Since the Hebrew calendar is lunar based and Gregorian is solar, the lag itself is between the sun and moon. The Sages saw reconciliation as so crucial (for the sun is He, the moon, we) they instituted leap years to occur 7 times in a 19 year circuit of the Hebrew Calendar, to allow time to reconcile. What a picture!!
The Hebrew phrase for “leap year” is ‘shanah me’uberet’ which means “pregnant year.” For the added month fills every moment of the others with more.
When a leap year occurs in the Hebrew Calendar, an entire month is added (as opposed to one day in the Gregorian) in which to reconcile and recalibrate. As part of this process, the month of Adar becomes Adar II and the added month is Adar I.
The month added is considered pregnant or full for the rest of the months in the year. Most truly, there is much to discover, to be added unto us.
And that gain, is joy! For it is said that as Adar I is ushered in, joy increases. What so pierced me, was the truth this points us to. For joy to increase, it must already be present!! He takes that which is already within us and multiplies it. His greater measure.
The joy of Adar is called ‘simchah’ which carries the meaning of “joy or delight” for sure. But the deep and wide of it means “to be connected to or to be strengthened by connection.” ‘Simchah’ is about the contentment that comes from being connected to Him, completely.
There is one more magnificent I found as I’ve explored the Adar I of this season. There is a pictograph for this time, which is a tree.
The Hebrew word for tree is ‘ashel’, comprised of aleph-shin-lamed. In the context of Adar, the word translates fully to this:
Aleph – unity with the wondrous
Shin – pierced by vav, or opened for presence
Lamed – the distance between our head and heart. The connection of our heart to His.
Unity with the wondrous, pierced by His presence and opened to shorten the distance between our head and our heart so we are completely connected to Him.
In the ‘shin’ of ‘ashel’ there are three vavs’. The opening they bring is related to three core emotions that lead us to joy. Chesed. Compassion. Control.
Chesed connects us to the joy of Pappa. Compassion connects us to the joy of Jesus. And control (think navigation, not restriction) to the joy of El Shaddai. Contented joy through complete connectedness.
The fact that a leap year brings pregnancy to a year means it is important enough for there to be a pictograph within the added Adar. For what is closed in the womb opens at birth. What is open until birth, such as the umbilical cord closes at birth. Adar opens and closes. It grows and prunes. All that enhances joy gains passage. All that hinders is clasped and constrained.
In this pregnant year, twins dwell. Purim and Pesach. For Purim moves to Adar II, swimming and swelling alongside Pesach. As twins do, they champion and complete each other. They stellar each other’s stories.
Pesach tells the story of people who could not save themselves. Not one thing could they do to be their own salvation. Each and every thing that happened was by Pappa’s initiative and meant to bring their awakening.
This people were brought out of exile and their enemy completely destroyed. Only a fragment of Egypt remained and the Pharaoh lay beneath the waters that rescued.
Miracles abounded and astounded, supernatural in natures simply because He loved. The ten plagues broke every rule of nature.
The people, His people were hounded by His goodness. Heaven hunted them with it. They couldn’t escape the story of fierce love. As their story led them to mountain and majesty, love showered and sheltered them. Yet, they trembled in trepidation instead of being anchored in Awe.
Time would pass and Purim would come bringing Pesach full circle. Commitment would be confirmed, fellowship fulfilled and Answer accepted.
As Purim arrived, a threat hung over the people, just as it had for the Israelites. Haman had convinced the king to decree death of 127 countries. Even so, Mordecai, a man of many languages, overheard and deciphered a plot to kill the king. Haman’s hidden plot made way for inspired intrigue.
The people could save themselves by saying they were Persian, yet they chose to remain Jewish. And true. The would not deny who they were or who He was to them.
The Jews were in exile with no miracles. Where was God? All was cold, still, silent. They couldn’t feel Him but they knew Him. That He was still with them, awaiting their response to his invitation given generations before to the Israelites at the mountain.
Miracles began to meet them, though different then before. These came at the initiative of the people. Each one looked natural. Like strategies and plans well executed.
Mordecai taught Torah to the children. Their parents feared for them and wanted them to leave. The choice though, was given to the children. Mordecai told them they could be killed for staying with him. They chose to stay.
In this half of the story the people remained in exile and it was the King “saved” the people by reversing his agreement and alliance with Haman. Haman was destroyed but the king was restored.
Pesach tells the story of a God unleashing His kindness because He loves us. Purim is the tale of humans being kind. Because we love Him.
Pesach and Purim. Doubled paragraphs in a single story. Pesach testifies to a people being given every provision. Purim revealed a people unafraid to spend their inheritance. A God who moved and a people who would be moved.
The idea of double portion fills the Old Testament. It seems smaller in spectrum in the New Testament because the movement was to inheritance. Pesach is the double portion. Purim the inheritance.
All for simcha – the joy of connectedness. Miracles and joy. The Purim peoples lived in joy because every command carries a reward. And a command done with joy removes the limits of the reward.
Miracles can bring you to joy and joy can bring you to miracles. Joy is the beauty of Christ.
This joy is simcha, that which breaks through barriers. Every barrier.