One of the Shabbat concepts that I think about a lot is the idea of getting a new soul (or "vayinafash," getting re-souled). This special extra Shabbat soul, "neshama yesairah," an additional soul, is often interpreted as an expanded or widened heart. (Thanks, Rashi!). I love that. And it makes me think of Chogyam Trungpa's explanation of the spiritual warrior's heart:
When you awaken your heart, you find to your surprise that your heart is empty. You find that you are looking into outer space. What are you, who are you, where is your heart? If you really look, you won't find anything tangible or solid. ... If you search for the awakened heart, if you put your hand through your ribcage and feel for it, there is nothing there but tenderness. You feel sore and soft, and if you open your eyes to the rest of the world, you feel tremendous sadness. This sadness doesn't come from being mistreated. You don't feel sad because someone has insulted you or because you feel impoverished. Rather, this experience of sadness is unconditioned. It occurs because your heart is completely open, exposed. It is the pure raw heart. Even if a mosquito lands on it, you feel so touched. ... It is this tender heart of a warrior that has the power to heal the world.
It's a sort of graphic description of the power and importance of softening your heart, of the fact that opening our hearts is sometimes painful but, through that pain and messiness, is the only way to be touched by the world and, in that exchange, heal.
In this time (and all time?) of conflict throughout the world, with wars raging, with this mess of politics and money and so many people dying, I keep coming back to my heart, just checking in and feeling that raw tenderness. Shabbat seems like a perfect time to hold it all.
This Shabbat I'm feeling the weight of the past week, the past lifetime, and holding that along with the lightness and bliss and happiness of Shabbat. The process of Shabbat-ing is a helpful tool to keep from setting aside sadness and some hard realities, maybe transforming that "unconditioned sadness" into compassion and peace and joy instead. Maybe.
While I love the concept of getting re-souled for Shabbat, it doesn't make that much sense to me that the new Shabbat soul completely disappears after Havdallah, when we separate Shabbat from the rest of the week and go back to our every day. What remnants of that new soul, what residual joy and peace and lovingkindness gets mixed up with our regular soul and is incorporated more and more each week?
My hope is that, like Trungpa's idea of an empty heart, each time I am re-souled through Shabbat, there is more tenderness and less tangibility, a waking up of my soul, an opening of my heart, and a chance to practice making everything holy, at least one day a week. And may all of this expanded-heart practice carry us into more and more and more and more peace.
Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most. Learn more