“V’asu li mikdash, v’shachanti b’tocham.“
“Make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”
Menachem Mendel of Kotzk asked: “Where does God dwell?” His Chassidim answered: “The whole world is filled with God’s glory!” Menachem Mendel corrected them saying, “God dwells anywhere we let God in.”
So, where do we let God in?
We let God into our experience of natural wonder. As Abraham Joshua Heschel says, “We can never sneer at the stars. We can never mock the dawn. The sublime grandeur evokes unhesitating, unflinching awe.” When we’re removed from nature, immersed in our tasks, or in the politics of life, or cloistered in our own self-absorption, we may well become cynical and sour, “but standing between earth and sky, we are silenced by the sight.”
We let God into our great life cycle moments, knowing the sacred as a baby emerges into the world, and knowing the power of God just as well when a beloved takes his or her last breath. We sense divine beauty under the wedding canopy and in special milestone moments of gratitude throughout life.
But where do we let God into our everyday?
The Talmud provides this beautiful image: “Before every human being, as he moves through the world, walks a bevy of angels, who herald his coming, crying out: ‘Make way for the icon of the divine! Make way for the image of God!'”
Can we rise to the challenge of seeing God in every human face we encounter?
Can we rise to the challenge of releasing Godliness from the places in our world where goodness is trapped in selfishness or greed?
I say, yes, we can!
Nachman of Bratzlov teaches that we begin with a nekudat tuvah, one drop of good we have done in the world. We start by identifying that tiny moment in which we know we’ve let God in, and build from there, action by action, smile by smile.
When we provide for a shiva home, welcome our refugee families, sing hymns of praise together in authentic joy, or stop to notice spring beginning to bloom, we let God in. When we begin a meal with motzi, enter our homes with mezuzah, commence each day with mode ani, we let God in. When we begin each conversation aware that we are talking to an image of God, we let God in.
Let’s build from here, from what we’ve already accomplished, from who we are in this moment, knowing that we have the capacity to fashion ourselves as sanctuaries, make a sanctuary of our community, and, ultimately, of the world.