Seeing With Spirit
The story is told of a Chassid who was walking outside at night. Looking up at the starry sky, he fainted. When revived he said that he had seen the stars bowing to G-d in a physical manifestation of the verse from "and the stars of the sky prostrate themselves before you".
With no judgement to this particular Chassid, I have always felt a sense of skepticism about the ability of average people to see in this way. In my mind, the starry eyed among us were also the people who were detached from reality, usually irresponsible and generally prone to inconveniencing others, like me, who cleaned up the mess.
I've been contemplating the possibility of seeing more than the naked eye perceives while remaining grounded and living responsibly. I've come to believe that there are moments that lift us to a space beyond what our eyes can see and hands can touch. They allow us to not only live responsibly but to bring some of that depth into all of our interactions.
This week is called Shabbat Chazon, the Shabbat of vision. A tradition of the Shabbat that precedes Tisha B'av is that we each see a vision of the 3rd future Holy Temple. I have never seen this vision and from what I've heard, neither have most of you. The Talmud reassures us saying that the Mazal (spirit) sees and this vision is therefore not necessarily accessible to the conscious mind.
On a quick jaunt to the Monterey area last week, I hiked the trail at Point Lobos. I've done the Cypress Grove and South Shore Trails before but it was my first time at Whalers Cove. At a lookout point on the trail, there's a beautiful and close up view of the many birds in the region. The herons immediately stood out to me, as I've been fascinated by them ever since reading "The World That We Knew" by Alice Hoffman. I watched them perched on the rocks, flying through the cove and spending time in the water. Suddenly, a huge flock of herons flew overhead. Like an air show, they moved with perfect synchronicity. My eyes saw their beauty and grace as they soared through the air but my spirit saw so much more. It's impossible to describe it in words, I was overcome by emotion and froze as I witnessed this sight. I did not film it and so this memory will live in my spirit, where I originally experienced it.
I am grateful for the gift of the herons and the miracle that occurs when our eyes and spirit see at the same time. I carry it with me into Shabbat with a prayer that not only should my spirit see the Holy Temple, but my eyes as well. As the verse in Isaiah says of the time of Moshiach "And all flesh together shall see the mouth of G-d speaking". And who knows, maybe someday I'll be fortunate to witness the stars bowing to their Creator.