Counting the Omer: Imagine

The Omer is the 49-day period between the celebration of Passover and the Festival of Shavuot. Beginning with Passover’s celebration of our liberation from Egypt, it became the custom to count the 49 days of the grain harvest leading to Shavuot, marking each step in our journey to Mount Sinai to receive the gift of Torah and revelation.

Temple Beth El will mark the counting of the Omer this year through the wisdom of Rabbi Karyn Kedar’s book Omer: A Counting. Each of the seven weeks of the Omer will focus on a theme related to growing our spiritual awareness and liberating ourselves from all that keeps us from feeling a sense of spiritual wholeness.

This week’s theme is IMAGINE.

To have an expansive and abundant way of seeing the world. To see the invisible. To live with possibility and vision. To see ourselves as a miracle, a daily revelation of goodness. We are limited only by our imagination. And what if that were true? Where would your imagination lead you? What magnificence might you manifest?

Daily Prompts and Questions

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל סְפִירַת הָעֹֽמֶר

Baruch Ata Adonai Eloheinu Melech HaOlam Asher Kidshanu B’Mitzvotav V’Tzivanu Al Sefirat HaOmer.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who sanctifies us with mitzvot, and commands us concerning the counting of the Omer.

May 5 - Day 29

Outside my window, out over the Hudson, a very large bird is soaring. I have seen this bird for days now, sailing, sailing on the fierce winds that are the slipstream around this island. It is too large to be a hawk. It is not shaped like a gull. The Hudson Valley is full of eagles, higher up. I cannot believe this is one, but it seems to know exactly what it is: eagle. It doesn’t tell me its name. It wears it. Maybe… we are such birds, mistaken by ourselves and others for something else, riding the current of our dreams, hunting in the canyons of commerce for something we have seen from higher up.

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way:
A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Question to Consider:

  • Where can your imagination take you?
May 6 - Day 30

The perception of the glory is a rare occurrence in our lives. We fail to wonder, we fail to respond to the presence. This is the tragedy of every man: “to dim all wonder by indifference”. Life is routine, and routine is resistance to the wonder. “Replete is the world with a spiritual radiance, replete with sublime and marvelous secrets. But a small hand held against the eye hides it all,” said the Baal Shem. “Just as a small coin help over the face can block out the sight of a mountain, so can the vanities of living block out the sight of the infinite light.”

The wonders are daily with us, and yet “the miracle is not recognized by him who experiences it.” Its apprehension is not a matter of physical perception. “Of what avail is an open eye, if the heart is blind?” One may see many things without observing them– “his ears are open, but he does not hear.”

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel,
God in Search of Man

Question to Consider:

  • What do you need in order to recognize the miracles of your daily life?
May 7 - Day 31

There are trees on the coast stripped of bark, stark silver white, and without the bark one can see how this very wood is twisted so the dead tree seems to be like a corkscrew rooted in the earth. There are people who think that only people have emotions like pride, fear, and joy, but those who know will tell you all things are alive, perhaps not in the same way we are alive, but each in its own way, as should be, for we are not all the same. And though different from us in shape and life span, different in Time and Knowing, yet are tree alive. And rocks. And water. And all know emotion. 

Anne Cameron,
Daughters of Copper Woman

Question to Consider:

  • What happens when you imagine the emotions of other people and beings in the world?
May 8 - Day 32

And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense of sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air, 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things

William Wordsworth
“Lindes Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey”

Question to Consider:

  • How can imagination expand your experience of life?
May 9 - Day 33

My God breathes by my side
let Him not stop breathing.
When all is blocked one hears in the quiet
the hidden distress of the rocks
and the sound of much dew pouring on them
ever since Moses hit them

Rabbi Karyn Kedar

Questions to Consider:

  • How do you imagine God’s presence beside you?
  • What emotions does that evoke for you?
May 10 - Day 34

We mistake detail for being picayune or only for writing about ants and bobby pins. We think of detail as small, not the realm of the cosmic mind or these big hills of New Mexico. That isn’t true. No matter how large a thing is, how fantastic, it is also ordinary. We think of details as daily and mundane. Even miracles are mundane happenings that an awakened mind can see in a fantastic way.

Natalie Goldberg,
Writing Down the Bones

Questions to Consider:

  • What is the relationship for you between the most mundane tasks of your day, and the most extraordinary moments of your life?
  • How can your imagination help you recognize the miracles of your life?
  • How can imagination also keep you grounded in reality?
May 11 - Day 35

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

John Lennon, “Imagine”

Question to Consider:

  • What does it take for our imagination and dreams to turn into reality?
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