I’m always interested in learning how others prepare for the High Holidays, also called the Days of Awe. I, myself, strive every day to learn more, do better and feel better. I have learned that I enter into this work from the inside out. While text supports and creates an integral piece of the foundation, my intentional learning and meaningful connection comes from a deeper place which informs and forms my foundation. I have found that to mindfully engage, I enter into my preparation through a creative process.
There are many ways that I engage creatively. This is a process oriented activity for you to try that I think is accessible and simple, with room for depth. I invite you to explore a new way to enter into the mirror of the soul in preparation for the Days of Awe.
This activity will engage you in finding new ways to make discoveries and extend understanding beyond verbal and written modalities into the language of texture, rhythm, color, movement and sound.
- Paper (parchment is perfect, recycled paper of any kind works)
- Writing implement (you can do the work like a sofer (scribe) with quill and ‘liquid darkness’ ink, or a favorite pen/pencil)
- Clay (self-hardening is best)
- Paint (optional, if you’d like to extend color into the clay)
- Let’s begin with observing your hands. Explore and observe the tapestry of life in the lines, marks and patterns. The hands that hold, care for, hurt, carry, work, caress—the hands that engage daily. Rarely do we take a moment to express gratitude for all the abilities our hands provide. Take a moment to reflect on this gift: the act of giving and receiving.
- Pinch off a small handful of clay. Move the clay back and forth between your hands, squishing, folding, kneading, feeling the form changing with every exchange.
- Form the clay into balls the size of large marbles. As you roll and form each ball think about a value. For example, if you are thinking about savlanut (patience) think about what patience means. After you identify the meaning, reflect on experiences from your year where you have been successfully patient, as well as times when you’ve been less so. Set the ball aside. Begin with molding a new ball and connecting it to a new value. Continue repeating the process, each time identifying a new value, reflecting on its meaning, and connecting with a personal experience. Take some clay and form a four-inch flat disc to sit the balls on, connecting them to form a ring sitting on the edge of the disc. Place balls around the edge of the disk three layers high, forming a cup. As a metaphor for a well, think of this as your cup of values.
- After you’ve created your cup of values set it aside.
- Next ask yourself, “What is it we strive to fill our cups/well with?”
- You already identified some of your successes and challenges while creating the balls. Now, tear off strips of paper and write down your strivings related to your values. They should be things you are committed to working toward in the year ahead. Roll each reflection into a scroll and begin filling your cup with them.
- Continue to revisit this activity throughout the year. It will be useful as a prompt for journaling, meditation, fleeting reflection, dinner conversation, general pondering, and daily inspiration. In a classroom setting this activity is a wonderful way for an opening or closing class ritual. Placing the cup in an established area of your home or classroom can also be part of your ritual.
If you enjoyed this activity, be sure to check out more activities to prepare for the Days of Awe:
The above activities are selections from my upcoming book Life Through a Creative Lens being published by Creative Arts Enrichment in 2017.
© 2016 Jacqueline Serebrani-Kesner