The desert is a place of barren stillness, a stillness that bespeaks emptiness and loneliness. Yet once the sun loosens its oppressive hold, the desert can become a place of remarkable beauty and teeming life.

The fledgling nation of Israel traveled the length of the Sinai desert, stopping forty-two times to catch its breath. It traveled in formation, the twelve tribes grouped in four flanks around the Mishkan (tabernacle) in the center. Each group of three tribes, north, south, east and west of the Mishkan, assumed spiritual properties of that direction, forever coloring its personality. The spiritual coloring of the Mishkan also influenced the tribe of Levi, who transported it through the desert.

At a mystical level, a desert represents spiritual desolation, despondency and depression. These characteristics forebode a tale of hurt and pain. The purpose of the forty-two journeys, bearing the Mishkan, was to subdue these negative characteristics so that the desert of the national psyche could bloom positive human virtues — virtues that hide beneath the sands until the oppressiveness of negative emotions subsides.

Three Levite families, Merari, Gershon, and Kehat, carried the three elements of the Mishkan through that desert. They carried the wooden acacia boards, the curtains, and the holy artifacts that the Mishkan housed.

The three elements symbolize three spiritual postures. The wooden boards stood upright to support the curtains. Standing has a connotation of stillness and silent humility — a posture of ego abnegation. This posture, correctly directed, can give rise to the expanse of deep love and reverence for life and its Source. This expanse of love was symbolized by the billowing curtains. Love energizes the sacred activity of life — elevating the mundane to its higher plane — the act of Mitzvah (literally, Divine connection).

These are the three spiritual motions: stillness through introspection (the wooden acacia board); expansive and energetic love (the billowing curtains) that is born of inner stillness; actualization of introspective stillness and flowing love through word and deed (the sacred utensils of the Mishkan).

This threefold sequence subdues the potential desolation, despondency and depression of the spiritual desert within. The three postures of inner silence, energetic love, and consequent enlightened activity, allow the desert to bloom with the innate flora and fauna that were the spiritual hallmarks of Levi’s three sets of sons.


MASTERY: In the evening, before retiring to sleep, adopt the posture of honest introspection. Allow this process to be straight and direct, like wooden timbers. Then awaken the flow of love and compassion in the knowledge that this is your most natural posture. Allow it to billow outwards like a wind blown curtain. Then commit yourself to infuse the coming day with acts of goodness and kindness, allowing the world to be an altar for your unique contribution.

MEDITATION: Still your body by focusing on your breath. Systematically still your limbs by scanning them systematically from bottom to top. Focus on your heart and visualize a spiritual opening through which flows outpourings of your love, compassion, and empathy, spreading throughout your body, encompassing your body, and then encompassing all those who walk with you in life. Visualize and rehearse your coming day’s activity, allowing it to be infused with the qualities of sharing and understanding, so that you become a true co-Creator of an unfinished universe.