We’ve been back now almost two weeks. It feels like we are just starting to gather the edges of our parachute together after landing.
|seder in our yurt|
Gabriola welcomes us with a wide embrace. The rains subside after the first few days and the sun begins to shine brightly on the day our friends from Toronto arrive to be with us for Passover. Though we haven’t really had the time to settle in, I feel the comfort in the familiarity of our forest home. As I wander, I notice which trees have survived the relatively mild winter, and which have fallen. I begin to plan a clean up and preparation for planting. Living outside means that our home is never clean, and that it is always clean. It’s Nature. It is what it is!
I’m realizing how easily my spiritual expression emerges in my daily life. So much of who I am is expressed in my relationship with my natural surroundings. I think I’ve always been this way, and, in my attempt to not think so much, I make more opportunity to experience. I think my relationship with India and Indians has further inspired that.
We lost our seder plate this year. Typically the seder plate holds the same items, no matter on whose table it sits. There is an egg symbolizing new birth, eternity, beginnings and endings. There’s karpas (a green vegetable) to remind us that Spring is here and it is a time of new growth. There’s maror (bitter herbs) to represent the suffering that our people experienced while being enslaved in Egypt. Charoset (a mixture of dried fruits, nuts, red wine and honey) symbolizes the mortar that the Jews had to make in order to build the pyramids. And, matzah, the bread of affliction and simplicity.
This year to replace our lost seder plate, we invited tour guests to begin our seder with a scavenger hunt in search of personal meaning to the traditional components of the plate that sits on the table all evening.
By early afternoon on Monday, everyone coming had arrived on the island. We gathered together to burn the chometz (last bits of bread) and begin the eight days of Passover, a holiday dedicated to freedom. We presented everyone with a list of words for consideration for finding items to add relevance to our seder plate. Simplicity, Opening, Sacrifice/Letting Go, Building/Creativity, Bitterness, Celebrating, were all concepts that we created derived from the original meanings.
For the next two hours all of us carried on with our day. We cooked and went for walks. We set the table for seder. We talked together and sat, and all through the day, with the list of words in our thoughts, we collected items that we each considered to be representations of the words on the list. Each item got added to the seder plate.
|Paul, Micah, Seyna, Maeve, Lindsay, me, |
Jacquie, Gabriella, Elyse and Baruch
The seder plate that evening was a reflection of our own personal understanding of the meaning of Passover. We had fresh flowers and entwined branches from trees. Twigs with new buds and seeds dug up by animals from last year’s planting. There was a clay statue of a dancing woman and an avocado pit. Sparkles and dust, and shells from the ocean, each representing meaning. It was traditional in a way, and personal and alive. Using the Haggadah to follow the order of the seder, we were all involved. Each person participated fully.
Isn’t that what it’s all about? Recently I had a conversation with someone about organized religion. “How can I be thankful for freedom when there are so many enslaved people in the world?” he questioned.
Our world is not perfect. There are bad things that happen everywhere, and people who do bad things.
In my life, I can only strive to be a good person. I want to live with love for myself, for my family, for my community and for my world. I want to give compassionately, intentionally and openly. I want to continue to learn, teach and explore. I want to work towards fairness, peace, and happiness for everyone, all over our Mother Earth. I don’t have to be Jewish to do that. I don’t have to be Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim. And, I could be them all! I just need adhere to the basic criteria of being a good person. Religion, then, becomes a way of practising those skills.
I am grateful for these next few days of Passover. As I restrict my diet for the next 8 days, I am mindful that there are people in the world who are not free. I remain grateful for the opportunities to give of my time, energy, wisdom and love, to connect with others to encourage change toward fairness and respect and eliminate suffering everywhere. I appreciate the many friends and acquaintances I have throughout the world and the amazing technology that allows us to connect and maintain those relationships. I feel strong and eager and intend to keep healthy so I can continue to learn and teach and give. I am energized and inspired by my family, who each, in their own way feeds me with love and the security of support and confidence. And, as I sat down at the seder table that night, I gave thanks for the bounty of my life. Chag Sameach to all!