“Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” – Anais Nin
Since I began working at Mayyim Hayyim last May, I’ve been thinking about when I wanted to have my first immersion. In June, we came before my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, and I got a first-hand look at what the immersion experience can be. I still needed to have my own reason for coming and decided to celebrate the occasion of my 45th birthday. I invited my posse and my sister (who they all know and love) to join me for a ladies lunch at Mayyim Hayyim last Friday. I asked them to come with an open mind…
I welcomed the group by telling them that I was using my birthday as an opportunity to celebrate our friendship. Everyone in the group has children who are under the age of 14 and we have been friends for at least nine years when the kids started school together.
“I wanted to take the time today to tell you all why I love you. After that I’m going in the pool where I’ll reflect on turning 45 and you’ll get a tour of this place. Then we’ll have lunch.” Eloquent, right?
I passed out quotes about friendship to each one and we took turns reading them out loud. I loved the responses that everyone had to each of the quotes and the laughter and conversation that it generated between us.
“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I ended with a blessing for all of us:
“May we all have the strength to continue to parent our children and guide them safely through these teenage years.”
I went around the room and shared with each of them the memory of when we met, why she is special to me, and what we love to do together (cook, philosophize, go to the beach…). There was laughter, there were tears, and lots of hugs.
For homework while I was immersing, I asked them each to write something nice about every person there and put it in her gift bag. (I brought them each a gift of a scented candle.) They also had to write something they accomplished since they had turned 40 which we would share over lunch. I passed out beautiful paper, markers and scissors and left them to go prepare for my immersion.
I’d been looking forward to this part for a while! Every time I give a tour at Mayyim Hayyim, I point out the seven kavanot (intentions) that people use as they are preparing. I was excited to slow down and take the time to think about getting clean and ready, rather than rushing through as I do most mornings. After I prepared, I entered the room with the mikveh, shed my towel and counted the seven steps down into the warm water. I thought about what someone had told me about not wanting to go in the mikveh because they don’t like being naked. Until I got out, I forgot that I was naked. There was no one there looking at me and there were no mirrors, so I didn’t feel self-conscious.
I had prepared three things that I wanted to say, one for each “dunk”. The first, of course, was saying “Shehechiyanu,” the blessing we say when we are thankful for new and unusual experiences.
The second was a list of things that I’ve accomplished since I turned 40 and if there was something special about the number in Judaism, I included that too. (There’s nothing special about the number 45!) As I read this list out loud, it made me giggle, which was strange, because I had written the list so it’s not as though I didn’t know what it said. I finished with my hopes and dreams for being 45.
Dunk. This time, I came up spluttering- swallowed a little bit of water. Oops.
Third, I said a Prayer for Mikveh that I found online which had meaning for me.
I was done with my 3 dunks, so now what? Should I spend more time reflecting? I wasn’t ready to get out. I twirled around a few times (thought about doing seven but got dizzy) and then got out.
My friends were busy writing, talking and laughing and never actually went on the tour (they’d all been here before). We set up lunch, ate, and shared what we’d accomplished since 40.
Immersing in the mikveh and having a ladies lunch was a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday. I felt so good about the experience and know that everyone enjoyed themselves. We would have had a great time together even if I hadn’t done a program with them, but I loved the intentionality behind what we did. I created a sacred space that allowed us to share ourselves with each other in a different way.
Come celebrate your special occasion with us- mark your transition in the mikveh!
Jody Comins is the Development and Events Coordinator at Mayyim Hayyim. She is 45 years old and looks forward to doing the Dirty Girl 5K mud run in Boston this summer as her next challenge.