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The Case for Keva

מודה אני לפניך מלח חי וקים שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה רבה אמונתך.

I am grateful to you, living and present King, Who mercifully restores my soul to me and Whose faithfulness is enormous.

As I wake up each morning, these are the words I say. This morning, as hard as I tried to let my mind wander where it wanted to journey during my morning meditation, I was repeatedly drawn to these words. Was it the words that were comforting - or confronting - me? The Klepper melody? No, the comfort came from the familiar, the routine.  

I feel comfortable and safe when I'm in a routine, when I know what my day will be like, when I can let go of fear because I am prepared for what will probably come my way. I take comfort in the "keva" of life. Keva is the rote, the usual, the expected.

This is not always a great way to live. I admit I am more confident when I know or have a sense of what to expect each day or at least create an outline. But life is also blessed with kavvanah, the white spaces between the black letters of life, the unknowns, the oddities, the offshoots that appear, the "space between." Life - MY life - tends to throw odd things - kavvanot, as it were - in my daily path. I am not someone you might call "spontaneous;" I like my life to be ordered, structured, controlled (although you probably wouldn't know this by looking at my chaotic office or bedroom). When unknowns, variables arise, I tend to feel anxious, unsafe, antsy. I sometimes feel thrown off kilter by the unknowns, the middle/gray-white areas of life, not always, but usually when I have taken on way too many responsibilities. From the beginning of my preparations for Rosh Hashanah until even now - almost a month and a half later - I have been living on "overwhelm," way too easily diverted and rocked off my path by even the smallest unexpecteds.

So I had my keva set for today, things I knew were set in stone (or so I would want). Today's keva included the lesson plans that I prepared for this morning's teaching, the plans I had made for the day. There were certain immutables I knew I could count on in my day's activities.

But I also knew this morning that the vagaries of life might rise up and meet me on my path, so I needed to plan out the keva places where I could find respite. I knew I could retreat to my office or my bedroom. I could write my thoughts. I could stop, breathe, get myself out of "harm's way," whatever that was. I realized that did not have to be controlled by what happened to me along the way. I could be a strong tree that could both bend in the wind and keep its shape, being and essence. I could be flexible without losing my self. I would approach life today knowing that life wasn't going to happen to me, that I could move myself with life while staying true to myself.

מודה אני לפניך מלח חי וקים שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה רבה אמונתך.



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