Immersed in the Month of Elul
By Susan Freiband
One of the characteristics of positive aging is a feeling of being comfortable, feeling at ease in the body, as well as at home, in the living space we create with intention and design. How we feel at home is a question that can be raised especially during the Jewish month of Elul. This time of preparation for the High Holy Days involves going through a process of reflection, self examination and study. Two customs dating from ancient days, blowing the shofar every morning during Elul, and reading Psalm 27 during services remain ways of marking these days.
During elder years we harvest insight and wisdom gained by handling the challenges of everyday life, the ups and downs, joys and sorrows that arise as years pass by. This experience provides a framework for feeling safe, at ease, comfortable in the body, in our own space and place, as well as in our relationships with others.
Psalm 27 asks, pleads, hopes for being able to dwell in God’s house all the days of life. The English translation of this part of the psalm offered by Rabbi Jeff Roth (of the Awakened Heart Project) sheds light on another way of interpreting the Psalm. “One thing I ask from Being Unfolding and this is my plea. That I may dwell at home in Compassion all the days of my life. To see through God’s eyes, pleased in meeting each moment and remembering that holy place”.
Being an elder involves dealing with issues of aging, one’s mortality, life repair, inner growth and learning, raising questions, and paying attention to body, heart, mind and soul. Balance, equanimity and deeper levels of understanding come into play. What is reflected in Psalm 27, compassion and kindness, is an essential component of spiritual eldering work. We are grateful for having the month of Elul to immerse ourselves in this work.