Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pondering and the Art of Making Pesach

Yesterday I went into N.'s room because all was quiet. Usually in the morning, N. is singing and playing with his dog. Yesterday he was sitting on his bed, head in hands, staring at the rug.

"What are you doing?" I asked.


I looked at the quiet of his body and the space. I ruffled his hair through my fingers. "Pondering is good," I said. And I left him to his thoughts.

I have been very busy lately. I have been up late each night working on the rough draft of a hypothesis paper about the neurology of visual perceptual differences in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). I have been obsessing--yes--obsessing--about Pesach. (Five days to prepare! Can I get it done?!). We have had some social obligations that couldn't be skipped. I have had a cold.
I have been longing to be free of all other obligations so that I could just finish the cleaning for Pesach.

Yes, you heard right. I have been longing for uninterrupted Pesach cleaning. And I am NOT meshuganeh*! Well, maybe a little.

I worry about all the work that Pesach entails every year starting after Channukah. This year, N.'s Bar Mitzvah made me late in my worrying. I worry until I actually start cleaning. Usually, I get everything cleaned during spring break. This year, I got some done during UNM spring break and some done last week. Last Thursday, the carpet cleaners came, and I got the pantries organized. (You should have seen this one before). But I still have kitchen work to do. So my worrying was compacted early and spread out late.

So, you probably wonder why I long to do the work uninterrupted? It is because I stop worrying about getting it done the more I settle into the work.

I put on Jewish soul music--you don't want to know! Maybe you do? My favorite is a CD by Klingon Klezmer called Honey, would you be meshuga tonite?

Anyway, I put on my Jewish soul music and I begin wherever I planned to begin. I gather my supplies. Everybody leaves me alone! They clear out like magic and I am alone with Klingon Klezmer and my thoughts. It is wonderful! There is something in my balabeyta** soul that is satisfied by bringing order out of chaos. It is my little share of the creative power of the Eternal.

And as I clean, I get to ponder. I ponder little questions: "What was I thinking when I decided to move this from one house to another?" "How did that get in here?"
And I ponder big questions: "Isn't it funny that work so hard to rid ourselves of chametz***, which is ubiquitous as the dust of the earth?" "What am I learning this year as I do the job that can't possibly be finished completely?" And my thoughts flow through my head like a gentle, spring rain.

And the day goes by and I feel very satisfied at the end of it. I can see what I have physically accomplished. But what has happened in my soul, although invisible, is even greater.

By the time I have gotten most of the heavy cleaning done and

I have started to get the Pesadik food on the shelf, I have pondered my way from slavery to a sense of freedom within the everyday routine of my life. I have pondered about what has enslaved me this year and how I will break those chains of petty obsessions and comfortable ruts.

As the moon of Nisan waxes from a sliver to the full moon of z'man cheruteynu, the season of our freedom, I have pondered anew the wonder of the freedom we are given and the joy of serving the Eternal, Source of Life and Freedom, who delights in the joy of our creativity and renewal unto life. The One who wants that we should learn to become ourselves.

There is an art to making Pesach. And I feel a little sorry for my husband because he does not have the physical touchstone of the meditative act of removing the chametz to set him pondering.

Do you ponder?


* Meshuganeh, meshuga (Yiddish) --Crazy, nuts, in the colloquial sense

**Balabeyta (Hebrew and Yiddish)--in charge of the house

***Chametz (Hebrew)--levened goods, levening


Anonymous said...

I love this. Thank you for posting.

Frankie said...

I am learning an awful lot from reading your blog. Thank you for including definitions at the end, I appreciate that!

I've been doing my annual spring cleaning. I blogged about it but blogger ate my post. Maybe later.

I love your photos -- very inspiring.

Mom said...

Pondering IS good. It's one of my favorite pasttimes. :)

Judy Aron said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I wish you and your family a happy healthy Pesach. I enjoyed reading your post very much and can definitely relate!
We had a lovely first night seder but I got so busy early in the day that I forgot to make a matzoh kugel so I am making one tonight.
In any case I hope you get come over to my blog and read my thoughts on the holiday as well.
Passover is definitely one of my favorites.
Chag Sameach!

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Hi, everyone!

Thanks, Sandy! Now that Pesach is underway and I am done removing chametz, I will check out your blog, too.

Frankie--Just had the chance to read about your really good day! I am looking forward to your re-do of the spring cleaning post. Every notice that your especially good posts get eaten by blogger?

Hi, Mom. Mine, too. When I slow down enough to do it.

Judy, I read your blog every few days.
You had a beautiful Seder plate.
I know the routine, I am like a chicken with her head cut off on the morning of Seder night!

Isn’t it nice to be done cleaning out the chametz? I am finally catching up on reading blogs today, as I sit in the recliner enjoying my nice, clean Pesadikh house!