Seasons of the Moon Don't you sometimes feel like your life is written in stone - that you can't change? Sometimes, we want to go back to a more innocent time - a time when we were pure and our hearts unsullied. But we feel we can't break the mold we're stuck in. We've created a treadmill from past bad decisions, and now we seem doomed to run like a rat around and around...visiting and revisiting all the mistakes we've ever made.

Hopelessness is the feeling that things are forever frozen in stone. When the world came into being, it first existed as primordial matter without form: "darkness on the face of the deep; and the divine Presence hovering on the face of the water" (Bereishit 1:3). The world was then a world of water, the ultimate symbol of matter without form. Water flows where it may, taking any shape at all, waiting for the vessel that holds it to give it shape, to give it true purpose.

There are times when we lose contact with our true purpose; times when the form that we have made for ourselves is not what the Creator intended. We have become sealed and unresponsive to spiritual reality.

In hebrew this is called "tuma," impurity. The word tuma comes from the same root as satum, sealed. Impurity means to be disconnected from the Source. The landscape of that sealed existence is a world of Hopelessness. Tuma always results from an unfulfilled opportunity for the creation of a new existence. for example, lashon hara, gossip and talebearing, creates tuma because it destroys the possibility of connection between people. In biblical times, the shattered possibility of creating that new connection caused tzara'at - a physical manifestation of tuma on the skin.

If only we could return to a world where things were not sealed in stone, where we could refashion ourselves in the form that the Creator intended for us!

God gave us a way to return to that primordial state - the waters of the mikveh (ritual immersion pool). When we return to those waters, we return to a primordial world. A world of water. An amniotic world where existence has no shape. A world of formless matter yet to be defined. When we regress to that earlier stage of Creation, we are re-formed, as new. The word mikveh comes from the same root as the word tikva, hope. The essence of hope is that we are not bounded and trapped by our present reality. hope says that we can connect to that which is outside and beyond ourselves. To the Source. every mikveh is like a little sea. The gematria of yam, sea, is 50. fifty represents the transcendent (see "A Straight line," p. xxx, and "The empty landscape," p. xx). The gateway to that which is beyond.

This is the essence of purity. Of tahara. life is not written in stone. hope tells us that we can return to the world of water to become purified. This is the essence of hope: that things can be remade, that we can change ourselves, that we can break the treadmill. The mikveh tells us that we can go back to the world of water, to that world of pure matter. The mikveh tells us that we can regress to a world before form, that we can remake ourselves and become pure.

i remember you
before you were born,
distant drumming
in a waterworld,
hearts beating in hope
you and mummy and me,
and all our hopes
that return one day
to the sea
in purity

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