Thursday, March 26, 2009

Question of the week by Rabbi Moss:

Question of the Week:
I nearly died this week. I was stuck in an elevator for six hours, with absolutely no contact to the outside world. For the last two hours I was lying exhausted not eh floor gaping for air. Finally, I heard some noise and an arm reached in through the doors and helped pull me out. Thank G-d I am fine now, but I am trying to find some meaning in my experience. What was this supposed to teach me?

What a horrendous experience. I am sure many thoughts flew through your head during those six hours. But at least it was only six hours. I know people who have been stuck in an elevator for years.

Our inner life is made up of two periods. We spend some of our life on level ground, and we spend some time in an elevator. There are times when we are on solid ground, comfortable in who we are and sure of our direction, clear in our goals and secure in our identity. We are at a comfortable spiritual level, and see no reason to move.

But after a while coasting on one level we are ready to move up to a higher place. These are the times when, either by our own choice or by force of circumstance, we enter the elevator. We leave the solid ground of where we were and start moving from one level to another.

The only way to move up is to enter a temporarily insecure place, a moving and unstable state, where there is an element of risk, and sometimes in order to go up you must first go down. To truly graduate from one level to another, your present state has to be shaken up, your current security has to be taken away and you must reinvent yourself. When life takes an unexpected turn and you find yourself in unfamiliar territory, when your complacency is shattered and you are faced with new challenges that your previous self is not equipped to face, you're forced to dig deeper within the wellsprings of your soul and find a new you.

Not everyone knows how to do this. Sometimes we get stuck in the elevator. We can't bring ourselves to break with the past, don't feel confident enough to embrace the future, and so remain in a limbo state, neither here nor there, between one level and another, never taking the plunge and moving on. We may be stuck in a past relationship, refusing to accept that it's over, so we never really become open to a new relationship; or we may be too entangled with our parents to be able to mature into an independent adult; or trapped in past hurts that don't allow us to trust again; or wishing we were young and not accepting that we are now old; or full of regrets of what could have, should have and would have been if only we did this or that.

Until you realise that there is no could have, should have or would have, you will never get to the next level. You are today exactly where you are supposed to be, and all you have experienced in the past is the prelude to your next move. If that next move is a step upwards to the next level, then everything that led to it is redeemed.

You were trapped in an elevator. You got out. This means you are ready to break through the ghosts of your past and move to a new spiritual level. There is a hand reaching out to help you. Grab it and start the next chapter of your life.

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