Vayeitzei – A Star Gazing Journey

Vayeitzei – A Star Gazing Journey
(And he left, and he went, and he dreamed)

A Guided Imagery Meditation for the 2013 B’nei Mitzvah Retreat
Conducted in the woods, under the stars, at Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu

Close your eyes…

Breathe in and out … slowly …

Breathe in and out … deeply …

And again …

Feel your body become heavy and fall into the ground.  Start with your head…feel all the muscles in your neck relax … feel your eyebrows, eyes, cheeks, mouth.  Feel your shoulders… arms… chest.

Breath in slowly … and let it out.  You feel your legs get heavy and relax… breath.  You are feeling very calm.

Imagine that you are Jacob.  You have left home and all that you know after a disagreement with your brother Esau.  You have left your home and your parents Isaac and Rebecca.  You are laying your head down to rest, to find some peace, after leaving a home filled with, well, something other than peace.

Breathe in and out … slowly …

Breathe in and out … deeply …

And again …

Put yourself in Jacob’s place.  Trying to lie down and rest on his journey and trying to make sense of things.  What do you think it felt like to leave home and set out on a new journey?  How do you think it feels to leave a home which is all you knew, to leave your parents?  Would you know what to take with you?  Would you be afraid?  Excited?  You think about what you would hope to find in a new home?

You have walked tirelessly for days and have come to this spot.  You are in the wilderness on the edge of the desert and you only have the light of the moon and stars to guide you.  What does the wilderness sound like at night?  What does it feel like?

You are thinking about your Journey – about where you have come from and where you are going.  You are eventually going to stay in a place with people who you do not know?  What will that place be like?  What will it look like?  What will it smell like?

On your journey and in your new home you will meet new people?  What does it feel like to meet new people?  What will they be like?  What will they look like?  What will they smell like?  Will you like them?  Will they treat you fairly?

You mind is spinning, but you have stopped to rest on the earth, here, at night, right now, to find peace.

You open your eyes and look at the sky ….  (you may all open your eyes now and look at the sky only.)  You wonder about the future.

You begin to think past the people you will meet tomorrow, or this year or next.  You begin to think about your home of the future – of the family you may have someday.  What will it be like to have a family of your own – children of your own?  You wonder – what will I pass on to my children, like my parents passed on to me?  What likes, what dislikes, what traditions, what values will they have – given to them by me?  You wonder what it even feels like to have children?  And then you close your eyes again and dream …. As Jacob dreamt that night.

And this was part of Jacob’s dream …

And behold, God was standing over Jacob.  And Jacob listened, and he heard, “I am Adonai, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac your father.  The land upon which you are lying, to you I will give it and to your offspring, to your children, and their children after them.  And your offspring shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall gain strength going westward and eastward and northward and southward; and through you shall be blessed all the families of the earth.  Through your descendants they shall be blessed.  And behold, I am with you, and I will guard you wherever you go, and I will restore you to this land and I will not leave your side.”

Keep your eyes closed…

When Jacob awakened from his sleep he was shaking, and he said, “Indeed, God is in this place, and I did not know [it].”  Jacob said, “How awesome is this place! This place is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

“And when Jacob arose early in the morning, he took the stone that he had placed at his head, and he set it up as a monument, and he named the place Beth El – the House of God.”

Keep your eyes closed … and imagine …

What do Jacob’s offspring, the Jewish people look like?  Who are they? To where have they traveled?  What Jewish memories and traditions were important for them to hold on to?

Keep your eyes closed … and now think …

Five thousand years in time quickly passes until here you are lying on this ground.

What Jewish values and traditions are important for YOU to hold on to?  Soon you will become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.  Like Jacob, you are on your own journey as a Jewish adult.  How do you feel about this?

Imagine the day you become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.  What do you look like?  How do you feel?  Proud?  Nervous?  Happy?  You are now parading around the sanctuary with the Torah.  Feel the weight of the Torah you are lifting.  Feel the weight and the strength of the values and traditions that have been passed down through it.  How heavy is it now?  What does it feel like now?  How do you feel when you are reading from it?

You now are giving a speech about your Torah portion and what it means for you to become Bar or Bat Mitzvah.  What promises are you making?  What values and traditions are you discussing?  Are they framing what you want your Jewish life to look like?

When you are ready, come back to the present.  To this time, and to this place – and open your eyes.

Discussion Questions:

  • What did it feel like to try and see yourself as Jacob?
  • What did it feel like to try and think of yourself at another stage of your life?
  • What part of the experience actually made you think hard about something or feel something strongly?  Why?
  • Were any of your feelings about Jacob’s Journey similar to those you felt about your own Journey?
  • How did you feel when you were asked to feel the weight of the Torah on the day of your Bat/Bat Mitzvah service? 
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