I like the idea of segulas, not the kind where you do some arcane thing and, like a prize, you’re given what you’ve prayed for. I don’t view my relationship with the divine like a transaction. I love the idea of preparing for a blessing before it has come as an act of faith that my prayers will be answered. I would read about women buying what they would need for a baby only prayed for not conceived and I would be inspired.
Yesterday, thinking about moving and frustrated at work, I decided I needed to be a bit more active in my prayers and add some action to them. I decided that instead of just davening for the move next year to go smoothly, I should begin doing my part to make it so, taking on one small project each week to prepare the way.
It’s amazing how much clutter can be accumulated even in just 4-5 years in Alaska. There are boxes everywhere to be gone through, old toys to be donated, clothes to be given away. Each box a segula, each box preparing for a move that for now is just a prayer. Painting a wall to prepare a house for sale that isn’t yet on the market. Packing for a destination I don’t yet have a ticket for.
Similarly, I’ve recently shifted most of the learning I do from “what do I need to know to pass the Beit Din?” to “What do I need to know to properly observe the mitzvos for when I’m obligated in them?” Whether it’s on the Beit Din’s tests or checklists or not, what will be important when I emerge from the mikvah? Each class is a segula for the day when I will need these skills.
In the meantime I continue to daven and work on my faith. Often, I think the practical, physical parts of observance are to help us through while we’re wrestling with our inner reality. I wonder if the point of doing the segula in some cases is to practice outwardly that perfect faith that our prayers are in the process of being answered before we can fully inwardly feel that level of faith. I also wonder if, for me, that isn’t the biggest part of my personal conversion journey, to learn to let go and trust Hashem, even when it comes to what can seem like an impossible journey? It would certainly be a tidy explanation for all our wanderings and obstacles.
For now, though, my faith sometimes wavers. One moment, I am certain we will find our way through this, that we’ll be led smoothly through our move and conversion. The next? I wonder if this is all some big mistake and if we’re putting our children through unnecessary suffering by stubbornly sticking with it in the face of such obstacles. I try to breathe through those times, reminding myself that those feelings are temporary. In some ways, in those moments, it becomes a good thing that our family wandered. I can look back at when we took a break and weren’t observant and how different our lives were. I can easily see how much better our lives are with observance. Without our wandering and struggles, I wouldn’t have that gift to help strengthen me.
So, until my prayers are answered, I keep sorting boxes and clearing clutter to make way for them.