When someone passes away… and we sit shiva for a parent, sibling, child or spouse… the mourners return home or to the home of the deceased and “sit” for seven days.
There are three prayer services daily… They recite Kaddish… Family and friends come to support their loved ones and the rest just sort of happens. The idea is to support and take care of those in need.
While there are specifics to be aware of, one should always let the mourner(s) lead where they want conversations to go… IF they want conversations at all. We all handle grief and mourn differently, and we have to recognize and respect that.
My Jewish Learning.com says that “Visitors are to enter quietly, take a seat near the mourner, and say nothing until the mourner addresses them first. This has less to do with ritual than with common sense: The visitor cannot know what the mourner most needs at that moment… And, of course, the mourner might just wish to sit quietly and say nothing at all.”
It is a profound experience.
For me, one of the deepest moments was just the sheer power and spirit of sitting… sitting in a room with individuals who were there for nothing but support… and maybe a piece of cake… The mourners sitting in low chairs… close to the ground, perhaps and hopefully only temporarily, low in spirit.
Many of us took some joy in seeing each other… greeting each other with a warm hug and a smile. But that joy quickly gave way to a sadness… a realization of why we were there.
In life, there is always a touch of death. It is said we “almost” die each and every night… which is why we say the Modeh Ani every morning the moment we wake… recognizing and thanking Hashem for returning our souls to us… and knowing that he trusts us to lead meaningful and fulfilled lives, and that we still have great things to do.
Life is so rushed… so hectic… and it saddens me to think that far too often, the only time we really stop and sit and allow our thoughts and emotions to exist and come out is at times like this.
Life is profoundly beautiful… and harsh… filled with love and heartbreak… joy and sadness. And life flies by if we do not grab onto it and milk every moment and second… fill each one of those with meaning and purpose and recognize each moment for the true and utter miracle it is.
Too often it takes death to see life… dark to see light… and an end to realize how important a beginning and middle is.
And so we sit. When we meditate, ideally the first thing after the Modeh Ani… or perhaps during and after morning prayers, we mostly sit… and of course and also, stand, bow and bend.
But tomorrow or the next time you can take those moments… and you really should take those moments every day… sit… and breathe… and meditate. Breathe in every drop of air, oxygen and life.
Sit and pray before you eat your food… or just take a second before you inhale that sandwich, and realize how lucky you are to have it… to eat.
Sit with your children for a meal… or while they do their homework… or yes, to even watch TV or a movie together. They will be out of the house before you know it… Big sigh there…
Be grateful before you go to sleep at night, with the Bedtime Shema. Sit at the edge of the bed and take that moment…
Often, our most profound revelations and awakenings come when are quiet… in stillness and in sitting…
One of my favorite visuals happened when I was in France years ago. We walked from our hotel in Beaune to a local restaurant each night we were there, and each night (I think it was two or three nights) we passed an elderly couple sitting on a swing chair on the porch of their rustic, little house. They did not say a word to each other, but they looked so content… so calm and at peace. I imagined that they had been married for years… had kids and grandkids… and spent each and every night like this… side by side… not needing to say a word, because it was all right there… They had EVERYTHING right there in their sitting… a silent and long, life-lasting love…
We run around so much… are always on the move… our brains are always in stress mode, chattering endlessly away. So stop… and sit… Just sit. There is amazing power in that.