215-247-5545 box 2 susan@susanwindle.com

GrainDear Friends~

Counting the Omer is an ancient Jewish spiritual practice marking the forty-nine days between the spring festival of Passover and the summer festival of Shavuot. The count begins as always on the second night of Passover–this year on April 23. Why do I count each day of these seven weeks in this special way? Let me begin with a poem.

This Day

this doorway
the one I’ve been ignoring
calls to me
with a deep, corpuscular
knowledge of the heart.
With clear intention—
to look, to listen only
and to record—
I step

not into hall or pathway
but onto
the muddy bottom rung
of a tall ladder
that leads
I cannot say to what.
The boughs
of the arbor above
are densest green
and what I sense are
letters
woven in the shade
illuminated nests
baskets, hanging
pouches, plump
with berries and wings
cradles in the canopy
I recognize only
by their songs
and by the way my body wants
to rise
and climb in.
Susan Windle

Through-the-Gates-cover-frontThe poem is from my book, Through the Gates–A Practice for Counting the Omer, a collection of daily letters and poems that grew out of an exploration of the Omer with a community of friends in the Jewish Renewal movement. For me, the coming weeks have become a time to cleanse and re-balance, to open the heart and receive the help of the Great Mystery that holds us all. It is a time to clear the obstacles that clutter the pathways for love and recommit my will to the values I hold most dear.

I draw on the ancient and evolving practice of counting the Omer–begun in Biblical times and honed through the centuries by the Rabbis and the Mystics–to help me in this holy and challenging endeavor. In my experience, the practice of the Omer offers special gifts–spiritual tools–to help me remember who I am: nothing more, nothing less than a being wholly and intimately connected to the web of existence–or in symbolic language of the Mystics,”The Tree of Life.”

Knowing many others throughout the world are engaging in this practice at the same time–and have done so for ages–buoys my individual efforts. And moving through the days in the context of a close community, an hevruta, as the sages have taught, is the best way to go.

That’s how I began counting in 2008. Since then, each year I find new ways to move “through the gates” of the seven days of the seven weeks in holy community. This year, in collaboration with Lev Learning a new, online Jewish learning center open to all who seek the heart of Jewish wisdom, I am offering three ways to connect with the Omer (see sidebar.)

If the practice of the Omer calls you this year, please consider joining me in any of these ways. And don’t hesitate to call with your questions—215-247-5545. We will find a time for conversation.

All love and many blessings~

Susan

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Upcoming Events

  • April 13. Introduction to Counting the Omer, 7-9 PM (on-line, through Lev Learning) $25.
  • April 27-June 15. Through the Gates of the Omer: A Writing Circle.8 Wednesday evenings,7-9pm (on-line, through Lev Learning). $200
  • April 24-June 10. Counting the Omer: An Email Journey. Daily Omer messages as a companion to Through the Gates—A Practice for Counting the Omer (On-line, through Lev Learning). $18
  • May 6 and May 19. New Wissahickon Writing Circles begin. Contact me for information.

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