I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but . . . my first year of school was really hard, psychologically and spiritually. And despite my intentions, my summer matched the academic year. So when I returned from England on Friday, I was looking forward to leaving 5773 behind with the start of Rosh Hashanah this evening.
I love going to the mikveh. I love the feeling of calm and of possibility and of transition. I love cleaning and scrubbing every part of my body. I love combing my wet hair to rid it of tangles. I love wrapping myself in a sheet as I enter the immersion room. I love counting the steps down into the pool. I love the warmth of the water. I love breathing deeply and saying blessings and setting intentions. I love floating underwater, suspended in time and space, touching nothing. I love doing that three times. I love re-emerging. I love drying off and getting dressed again and feeling, for at least one moment, perfectly anew.
Every time I go to the mikveh I think that I shouldn’t wait another year to go again. And then I wonder if it’s the infrequency of my visits that give them power. And I still can’t help but wish I could feel that way more often.
As last year, I used the mikveh’s immersion ceremony for Rosh Hashanah. This year I was especially struck by a few parts of the text. After the first immersion and Hebrew blessing, I read,
Though the future is uncertain, I release this past year and all its difficulties and joys. I open my heart to receive the blessings of the new year. (emphasis mine)
And then after the second blessing,
May I return to my true self and be strengthened as I continue my journey of tikkun halev — repairing the heart, tikkun hanefesh — repairing the soul, and tikkun olam — repairing the world. (emphasis mine)
I am definitely feeling a desire for the seemingly contradictory events (to me, at least) of heart opening and heart healing. I often wonder whether opening my heart makes it vulnerable to pain. But maybe the heart can only heal when it is able to open, even if that is a risk.
When I popped out of the water after my third immersion, I felt, for just a split second, dfferent. Somehow. It was hard to believe and yet oddly comforting.
May we all have shanah tovah umetukah (a good and sweet year)! I am hopeful for 5774.