by Carrie Bornstein
Growing up in New York, March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. Somehow here in Boston only 200 miles northeast, it’s as if I’m in a completely different climate. As much as I tried to deny it in all the years I’ve lived in the area, I’ve come to terms with the fact that the lambs don’t actually come to shoo away the lions until late April.
Although my preferred temperature is a precise 72 degrees, this time of year is actually my favorite. Patiently (perhaps), we’ve stuck it out through another long winter. Past the stage of daily wondering whether it’s okay to pack away the ice melt already. That first day venturing out of the house wearing flats without socks. And the best sign of all: tiny buds, light green sprouts, surprise purple petals that can only be found by looking carefully… proof that spring is actually here.
Once in a while visitors arrive at Mayyim Hayyim with “ready” written all over their face. These are the people who scheduled their appointment eleven months in advance, or who packed a car full of friends to drive in from the Berkshires. They might be getting married, celebrating five years since beating cancer, or finally – finally – becoming Jewish. We always tell them the same thing: take your time. Slow down. Let the preparation process guide you. Go through each step of our Seven Kavanot for Mikveh Preparation and these intentions will help you transition from walking in the door to emerging from the water.
Although I was ready for spring in February, nature forces me to slow down.
“Relax and enjoy. The water will feel even sweeter after this,” the kavanot say.
Walking through our garden each day becomes my own daily preparation, allowing me to notice all the changes that go on in early spring. Tiny shoots force their way through the dirt and will become enormous hostas before I know it. The bare ground with its winter debris, not yet weeded and readied for the season – proof that we’re in a liminal zone, on the threshold of something wonderful to come.
The garden allows me to separate between bumper-to-bumper traffic and the guest book entries as I walk in the door… between troubles of the outside world to a smiling volunteer Mikveh Guide… between winter and spring and all that’s to come, day by day.
Each day surely feels sweeter after this.
Carrie Bornstein is Mayyim Hayyim’s Executive Director. Come springtime, you can find her in sandals, driving with the windows down, and drinking iced tea – lightly sweetened.