This summer we have two primary initiatives coming together at nearly the same time:Welcome and Refresh. Each is important on its own, and both can benefit by understanding and embracing the ancient Jewish concept of zimzum.
Welcome. It is so wonderful to finally welcome our new associate rector, Stephen Smith, this week. In addition to meeting with me and just trying to get settled, Stephen has participated in an extensive staff planning meeting and had the opportunity to visit with parishioners who came to yesterday’s Walk in Wednesday. He has met and will continue to meet parishioners throughout the following weeks and months even as we will be getting to know him.
Refresh. In addition to finding opportunities to get to know Stephen, we are, as you know, working on our Space Refresh Initiative this summer. Our goal is to make our spaces more welcoming, sustain a variety of uses more flexibly and create gathering areas that are conducive to learning and deepening connections among people. Through this initiative, we commit to making our spaces better reflect who we are and what we experience by being a part of this community.
So what is zimzum? It’s the way Jewish spiritual teachers in the 1500s spoke about the beginning of creation when God made room for creation by taking in a breath and ‘contracting’ so that that space was made for creation to become manifest. It speaks of the creative and powerful space between, that flow of love and energy that is at the heart of creation and at the center of every relationship.
As we get to know Stephen, as with any new person or indeed any relationship at all, we must first make space for the other—spiritually, emotionally and physically. We make room for one another to be distinct from us, to have their own view of the world and to share from their own life story. Without intentional, caring space created between people, relationships cannot blossom. So too our commitment to refresh our physical spaces is about making tangible spaces for people—parishioners and guests alike—to connect deeply with God and with one another, in the transforming power of love.
With whom in your life have you experienced the life-giving energy of zimzum? In what ways might our own parish community deepen our connections to each other, yet also cultivate space for each other’s unique identities?