A Chassidic tale relates that the Rebbe of Kotzk once summoned his chassidim and challenged them, "Where can you find God?" One disciple volunteered, "His glory resides in heaven." The Rebbe frowned with displeasure. A second disciple offered, "The entire world is filled with His glory." Once again, the Rebbe shook his head in disapproval. Anxious to understand, the chassidim implored the Rebbe, "Please, tell us where can we find Him?" The Rebbe said, "Wherever you invite Him!"
All of us at some point in our lives struggle with the need to make God a more integral part of our lives. As such it is imperative that we understand how the Rebbe's counsel can be translated into our day-to-day lives.
Contrary to what we might think, making God a real part of our ongoing, moment-to-moment existence does not require an overhaul of our lives.
Interestingly enough, and contrary to what we might think, making God a real part of our ongoing, moment-to-moment existence does not require an overhaul of our lives. It does, however, demand something that is very hard to come by in our hurried and driven society -- focus and mindfulness.
Most of us move through life, day after day, in a predictable, robot-like way, hardly giving what we are doing a second thought. To most of us, the words of the Psalmist, "I have God before me always" represents a remote and wishful goal -- an ideal accessible only to the very holy and saintly of spirit.
Such, indeed, was my thinking until the realization hit me like a thunderbolt.TAKING STOCK OF EVERYDAY LIFE
When I took stock of my normal everyday life, I realized how very mundane it was. I would wake up, get the kids ready for school, serve breakfast, carpool, clean up, vacuum, make lunch, make supper, carry on with telephone conversations, with familial interactions, help the kids with their homework, get them to bed, etc. -- all in the context of a typical day. How much spirituality could there be in a day consumed primarily by physical and material concerns?
The scariest part, I realized, was that those things which are purely physical, are limited, moribund and perishable -- they die, never to be heard from again. How could I justify a life where the majority of my most precious moments would be relegated to oblivion?
Would the better part of my life be buried at its conclusion, like an animal? Would it be summed up with "been there, done that and gone forever"?
Would the better part of my life be buried at its conclusion, summed up with "been there, done that and gone forever"?
In my heart of hearts, I knew it couldn't be. The moments of my life were too dear and meaningful --yes, even those spent baking, cooking, cleaning and diapering babies -- that I should consign them to nothingness.
The Rebbe had advised, "Invite God into your life. He will come when He is invited." I realized that what it takes to transform a "mundane moment" into a "spiritual moment" is the presence of the Almighty.
As soon as one introduces God and His Eternal Essence into the picture, His being there transforms the moment into something immortal and timeless -- into a moment that will never die, a moment that lasts forever.INVITING GOD INSIDE
How do we do this?
Quite simply! Whatever it is that we are doing, we stop for an instant to ask ourselves the question, "Is God comfortable being here now?"
As I talk to my friend on the phone, I pause momentarily to reflect: Is the nature and the content of my conversation such that it invites His presence or banishes it? Is my conversation gossipy or is it positive and uplifting?
As I clean, vacuum and care for my children (all clearly "mundane" activities) am I resentful or do I recognize that this is all necessary for the creation of a sacred environment, conducive to spiritual growth? In other words, given my present attitude, would God be comfortable being with me or not? If the response is affirmative, then I have captured the moment for eternity.
I ask: Right now, would God be comfortable being with me or not? If I can say yes, then I have captured the moment for eternity.
Commerce is clearly a "weekaday" endeavor, but by applying the Torah's ethics to our business transactions, we can invite the Almighty to join us, thereby claiming these moments for all of time.
The same holds true of personal interactions and spousal relationships, if they are sufficiently sensitive such that God would relish being there.
When we sit down to eat, do we exercise our unique prerogative of choice to ask ourselves, "Is this what God would want me to eat? Does it meet His standards? Is it kosher? Is it healthy? Will it give me the requisite energy to do that which I need to do in order to fulfill His will? Is it the right amount? Did I remember to express my gratitude by reciting a bracha? Bottom line: Would the Creator be comfortable sitting at my table?
The Psalmist's exhortation that "we have God before us always," when applied to our daily lives means focusing constantly on the opportunity to have God accompany us in everything that we do. No moment of our lives need be written off as "time killed."
For those of us who aspire to invite infinity into our finite lives, all it takes is asking the simple question: "Is God comfortable here now?"
Heaven on Earth.
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