Counting the Omer with Lesley Levin
Day 8 — Joy
Simcha • שמחה
By Judith Golden, Chicago, Illinois
I love counting the Omer. It is such a simple practice — just count each day — and yet it can be challenging and complex — choosing to make each day count. This is an excellent reminder and practice for life. If we can make each day count for 49 days, why not every day?
One of the most powerful ways that I have found to make each day count is to choose joy. Those of you who know me from the Mussar Kallot know how joyous I can be. At the Kallah it is very easy for me to let my joy flow. It isn’t so much that I choose joy, I just can’t not be joyous in the midst of Mussar community, leading singing and worship with such amazing partners. OY! It overflows!
But back at home, with worries and stresses, overwhelm, loneliness, and upset around every corner, I need to remember to make a choice. Last September, for my 60th Birthday, I decided that I was going to choose joy for my life going forward. No more dissatisfaction and crabbiness. I have forgotten this promise to myself many times. And when I do, there are angels sent my way to remind me (thank you Avi for inviting me to write for this day of all days).
What does it mean to choose joy?
For me, what helps most is to slow down and take the time to notice joyful things, and name them to myself … a special Shabbos hug, walking out of shul to a blue sky (ANOTHER beautiful Shabbos!), cooking using the beautiful art piece measuring cups given to me by my mother, a chance to travel with my daughter and sister, even if only for a day, adding value at work, gratitude for my colleagues, being trusted by a friend who shared a concern with me, singing Shabbat blessings with my husband and my father, looking at the aqua blue walls in my bedroom that my husband painted three times until we found the color I really liked, marveling at the beauty of my daughters drawings and photographs.
Joy is often a result of choosing gratitude — Hakarat HaTov — recognizing the good, and focusing there. For me Joy and Gratitude go hand in hand.
So as we count this 8th day of the Omer, may this practice of counting the days have deep meaning for you as you make each day count … and choose JOY!!
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