There is something blooming right now where I live that fills the air with indescribable fragrance. I noticed it last night on a long walk through the city. As I kept walking, the fragrance changed and shifted, making my head spin as I tried to identify it. Somewhere in that mix, there was the fragrance of peonies, which suddenly seemed to be blooming in every garden. There, too, was the smell of fresh vegetation empowered by the weeks of rain. But there was more than that to this heady brew of a late spring finally springing into force.
To me, it felt like an unexpected gift. I wondered if others noticed, and if they did, did they, too, find it as intriguing? But I seemed to be the only one periodically interrupting her walk to stick her nose into flowers in front of people’s houses or standing, dazed, in the middle of the sidewalk for minutes on end, trying to figure out the source of this subtle yet intoxicating fragrance. So I concluded that I was the only one.
And suddenly I had the thought that this was the Shekhina playing with me – the mystery of God’s presence here on Earth, God’s feminine counterpart. She was right here, teasing me, playing hide and seek with me, making me run after her, search for her, try to catch her. I could almost hear the playful laughter, and I laughed too. For who can catch God? We can only stand in wonder and be amazed at His and Her miracles.
On Day 28 we are contemplating the relationship of Malkhut (Shekhina) to Netzakh – the mystery of God’s manifestation in this plane of existence within the context of our soul purpose. What do we make of this?
To me it suggests that as we go about fulfilling our purpose, we must acknowledge the mystery that accompanies its outcome. No matter how clear our vision, no matter our plans, hopes and expectations, not matter our careful execution, we cannot predict that outcome, and we don’t know what that outcome might lead to. Who will it touch? Which new processes will it set in motion? Who will it affect and inspire?
All that is completely out of our hands. We must learn to play in the mystery of the Shekhina as we release the outcome and trust that we have done our best to manifest our soul’s mission. Sometimes we complete our mission only to find that it had much less impact than we had hoped (at least, in our estimate). Sometimes the reward we may have hoped for didn’t arrive. Sometimes the outcome may not at all be what we had intended. But the truth is that the full dimensions of the outcome and its impact will never be known to us.
Moses – possibly the man with clearest expression of soul purpose in the Torah – surely must have felt disappointed when the people responded to him with a lack of understanding or even rebelled against him. And at the end of his life he surely felt a disappointment at not being able to enter the Promised Land. He had to learn to release the outcome and trust in the mystery of the process. It was his job to fulfill his mission. The rest was up to God.
In fact, trust in this mystery frames the entire process, from the moment in which our soul’s purpose is conceived in the unknown and transmitted to us to the moment of its final expression and manifestation in this world. The only thing we know for sure is that we are serving as a channel for the implementation of this purpose. The intended unintended consequences may be many and much more far-reaching than we’ll ever know.
Surely, the fragrance that was accompanying me on my walk had not been created just for me. The plants that produced it had other missions and purposes, each its own. And yet, one of the consequences of their living out their purpose was that the fragrance allowed me to become aware of Shekhina’s magical presence. It became a message, a love letter to me from the One, written in a language that I, a long-term lover of plant-based fragrances, could understand and appreciate. As I transmit this story through the medium of text, I contribute to creating another set of consequences. Who knows how this message will impact on my readers? Who knows what forms it might take in its next iteration, as others process it and make it their own? How will it continue to act upon the world beyond my knowledge and awareness?
None of us can calculate the full impact of that which we create as we fulfill our soul’s purpose. We must acknowledge the mystery of co-creation. And we must accept that its outcome will continue to be carried through the world like that fragrance that was brought to me on the playful waves of the Shekhina.