Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Tzimtzum Moment

According to Jewish mystical tradition, when God stepped back after making the world. The Holy One, blessed be He, clapped his hands in laughter and said, "Tov! It is good. Very good!" Then God stepped back.

This blessed withdrawal is called tzimtzum. It is just the thing we should expect of a Sabbath-keeping God.

This stepping-back is the mark of good parenting, divine and human. God does not hover nor manipulate, choosing instead to make room for children to do their own work. The Spirit can come and help. But for a creation to flourish, the Maker must give it some room.

The elegant Mr. Hamme
Today I understand this, in a much smaller way. This is the date of the 22nd annual Jazz Communion at First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit. I am not there. The jazz service was my baby, my creation, but I have stepped back in sabbatical. The original plan was to return today, but family plans pushed everything back by two weeks. So we asked Al Hamme to step in as the musical director, with my old pal Tim Schumacher as the guest guitarist.

A quick afternoon Skype call to Al confirms what I already know: all went well. Tony Marino dug into the deep notes, Tom Whaley got up in time to get the rhythm dancing, Al swung his tail off, and Tim did just fine. Al reminded me that everybody is replaceable. True enough.

It is freeing to back away from something you started. Let it rise and fall on its own merits. If it is to live and flourish, let is do so in freedom. Truth be told, I was sleeping in on Sunday, just about the time the jazz service started two time zones away. And everything went just fine. Heaven's providence is greater than human control.

Tov! It is good. Very good.

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