Saturday, February 15, 2014

"I have called you by name"

In the Torah portion this Shabbat (Ki Tisa), God says, "I have called out by name Bezalel (karati b'shem)..." We learn that Bezalel, singled out by God, is endowed with a divine spirit and will lead the creation of the mishkan.

It is a powerful idea to call someone out by name. In Torah study this morning, several people suggested pieces of the same idea--to be named is to affirm one's fullness of being. To be reduced to a number or to be nameless is to be almost nonexistent. In this passage of Torah, Bezalel and his assistant, Oholiab, are both named with their lineage, so their fathers and tribes are recognized as well. Thus, when we give someone a name, we link them with generations past and we also endow in them hopes and dreams of what they may be. Studies even suggest that a given name has power over a child's development as a person.

Calling each of my children by their name for the first time was spiritually profound. In both cases, I asked Micah (who saw each child first) if the baby looked like the name we planned to give. Once he said yes, the medical team asked what the name was and I said, "Hadara Irene" and then two years later, "Caleb Doron." Setting aside that we then had to explain the origin and meaning of Hadara and Caleb, it was a moment when I truly called my children by name in the most powerful of ways. Like God calling Bezalel and endowing him with divine spirit, saying their names aloud for the first time was a recognition of past and present, and especially future. I could taste the sweetness of the moment, and heard the potential in each name and thus each child. 

To call someone by name is to acknolwedge their being, to say that we see them in an intentional way. And each of us has the responsibility and ability to bring honor to our names, to live out the things with which we were endowed by those who came before, and to create a future of goodness and blessing. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

"But I'm still little"

Tonight is my last night of maternity leave. I am filled with the ambivalence of wanting to return to my work, with colleagues I respect and work I find meaningful, while wanting to stay within arms' reach of my three month old son and available to my daughter and husband. And, above all, there is a fear of change. I have had an amazing three months of being present for my family and now, change is coming. I can't stop the change so it is time to embrace it.

My daughter tonight discovered that same ambivalence about change. She has a guard rail on her bed and has been talking about removing it for some time. Today at nap we finally did it. She seemed to enjoy the freedom until bedtime when she insisted on putting it back. When we said that this was a big girl step, she cried, "But I'm still little!" My heart broke a little bit at hearing her face what we all do--a fear of not being ready for scary change. Tonight we could put the guard rail back...and she can decide when it is time to try again. Other times it won't be so simple, yet the emotions will likely be the same. How can it be time for this? I'm not ready!

Tonight I feel the same way. I'm not ready! My son is too little! I don't want change! I miss work, and right now I suspect that tomorrow I will miss my children more. The unknown seems overwhelming, yet change is the only constant in life. It keeps things interesting, it challenges us to find new qualities within ourselves. I know that in a few weeks, I will discover a new rhythm of balancing my roles as mother, wife, and rabbi. I will find the satisfaction in multitasking and will appreciate my time at home even more because I spend so much time away. My husband will discover new joys in his time with our children on the weekends when I am on the pulpit or at religious school. And, our children will continue to develop resilience as they are surrounded by so many different people who care for their well-being. But for tonight, my daughter and I both will feel a little ambivalent about the forces of change until we wake up tomorrow ready for the challenge!