Bowling; the 10,000 breads
Otherwise, had a very nice time going out on Sunday night. In other areas, my life has been a bit chaotic and stressful recently. In trying to explain this, I thought of a story. (What's the yarn spinner without a yarn?)
When I taught religious school, I used to lead services with lots of music for kids. This was one of my favorite things to do, and at the beginning of every school year, I had to teach kids some prayer basics. This did not involve how to learn prayers; kids absorb those and learn about prayers all the time. This involved learning to be ready to pray or how to find a personal prayer space.
Imagine you're in a room with 15 -100 wiggly kids. Age range 5-10.
OK, everybody. I want you to move away from the people next to you. No touching. (Dario, stop touching Rachel. Janey, that's enough) OK, now, close your eyes. No peeking. Imagine your favorite place. It's a playground, or the beach or your backyard. Everybody have a place? (dozens of little faces screw up in concentration, eyes shut.) Your friends and family are near you, but not touching you. No touching! Focus on how special that place is. How inviting it is. How comfortable you feel there. Think about the good experiences you have there. Is there where you learned to go down a slide? Go swimming? Play with your dog? How do you feel in this place? Happy? Peaceful? Quiet? Loud? Ready to think about important stuff? (shh. no talking to anyone else about this.) This is your place. You're alone here, to talk to G-d.
OK, everybody, open your eyes. When we pray together, that's exactly the place you want to get to. The still, special place, where you feel good and where no one is bothering anyone else. Everyone ready to go back to your special place? Now we're ready to start praying.
Why do I mention this? As an adult, I bypass this little exercise and head right into my appropriate "prayer place" when I go to synagogue or recite a blessing. Most prayerful people of all faiths, as adults, know how to do this. On a daily basis, though, we often need to step away from the stress, the tension and the anxiety dreams. (I've had some whopper anxiety dreams. Whew!) Today, for the first time in a while, I tried to stop and think of my special place. What is it, these days? You know, I don't know what it is.
The last one I can remember, several years ago, was sitting and spinning on the front porch of my old house in Durham, NC, with Lucy, my first dog. Lately, I've been baking a lot of bread. I find this calming, and since the No-Knead Bread Recipe changed my bread making life, I've been making all of our bread at home, not just the challah.
I am still tense. None of the anxious stuff in life just floats away easily. The special place? Well, if you took the feeling of bread baking, and then multiplied it by, say, 10,000 loaves, that might be it right now. 10,000 breads. Hmmmm. Fidget. Bread place. Trying to calm down. It's not working yet, but I can smell the bread baking in the oven, in my mind...
So, how do you take a step away when things are stressful? Any hints?