My Tablecloth Soul Dance

My Tablecloth Soul Dance

Yesterday, at Devorah’s Dance Journey workshop, we did something unusual. Each of us took a clear plastic tablecloth and danced around with it–dancing, as Devora put it, “the story of our soul.”

At first, you can imagine, I felt pretty silly, dancing around Devora’s living room with a plastic tablecloth. But as I looked deeply at the tablecloth, I got it. I felt my body, and there, in my hands, I felt my soul. A physical object, yet ephemeral, flowing like water, like the wind.

The first thing I did was hold the tablecloth tightly over my eyes. I could see everything around me, but cloudy. Like through the lens of an ancient camera discovered while reorganizing my attic.

I was seeing, I imagined, the world through my soul eyes. The way the world looks when Hashem is sitting on your shoulders. On your mind, on your heart.

On the way over to that morning’s workshop, I had passed by an elderly rabbi who spent many years as a refusenik in the Soviet Gulag. Starving within his damp, freezing-cold cell he had managed, to the best of his ability, to pray, to learn Torah, to observe Shabbat and the Jewish holidays–to live as a religious Jew within the belly of the G-d-forbidding Evil Empire.

And I thought of this Refusenik Rabbi as I danced around and peeked at the world through my tablecloth. With the Soviet Union thick around him, he achieved the nearly impossible, to see his situation and the world around him through soul eyes.

And then I bunched up the tablecloth, and placed it over my eyes. And I couldn’t see anything. Like I’d left the lens cover on that ancient, forgotten camera. Soul eyes are awesome, I understood, but they aren’t enough. My eyes need to be there as well. Otherwise I’m blind.

And I was reminded of a story a friend once told me. When she was younger, she would download Torah classes and listen to them non-stop throughout her day. But at one point her husband suggested she should take it easy on the classes: “Sometimes you should listen to your own thoughts, too.”

Yearning for balance, between body and soul. Between soul eyes that cannot see and soul eyes that enable me see this world–lit up with G-d’s light–and beyond.


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