For the past nine years I have wanted to learn Breslov Chasidut with someone, anyone, near my home. As there is no vibrant Breslov community here I was pretty much tough outta luck. I continued on my not so merry way, and occasionally I would meet up with someone who would be willing to learn a little with me. I must say, those times were like a small oasis to me and I was most grateful for them but they lasted only weeks, if I was lucky. By nobody's fault the learning simply fizzled out. Well, perhaps it was someone's fault. Maybe even mine. Perhaps I just wasn't ready. Perhaps I was not committed to learning with others and sharing that learning. Perhaps I simply did not want it enough then, because this past summer I have enjoyed the sweetness of learning with a group of ladies that have become such a precious time in my week and particularly of my shabbat.
It all started when I met one lady at shul (synagogue). Now allow me to preface this with just a little something about me. I tend to consider myself a bit shy, but when my radar goes up and says to me 'You must get to know this person.' , shyness be damned, I hone in and meet them. I do not ignore that inner voice because I know there is something I need to learn from them, some message they have for me. Well, lucky for me, this lady turned out to be a kindred, new to the neighborhood and even more shy. I was tickled to realize that the Divine had already prepped me for this meeting by having me read about her and her family in the local neighborhood paper in a "Welcome to Neighborhood" piece. I was so blessed and I knew I needed to make an effort to become friends. You see, my shyness was a direct combination and result of being hurt so badly by a few folks in the neighborhood and the loss of my mother two and half years ago. I certainly did not want to be hurt again and so I made sure not to be by holding back. But Hashem had other plans and deep within, I found the courage to take a chance and step forward. I am so happy I did! After a few weeks of the casual getting to know you type visiting, I noticed a book on her end table. It was a Breslov book, Crossing the Narrow Bridge and a light went off for me! Maybe, just maybe, this time would be different. We started talking about learning and she expressed interest in learning Breslov Chasidut as did my other friend who was with me and BOOM a study group emerged!
We decided it would be on shabbat and we would alternate homes. After a few weeks another friend joined us and now there is a core of four ladies. We have also enjoyed the occasional and added pleasure of having a reoccurring visitor to our group when she comes in to visit for shabbat and just this past week, another lady joined us! I felt like I was in heaven! Six ladies all sitting in the living room and learning the sweet teachings of my Rebbe, our Rebbe! Since it is a casual learning environment, all of us taking turns reading and commenting when we feel led, we have not gotten very far in the book, page 98 to be exact, but the depth to which I feel it in my soul and my heart is immense. I find myself opening up to these ladies. I have found myself being quite honest with myself and them, realizing where I have challenges, where I need to grow and where I can help. I feel my emunah(faith) growing and the sweetness of friendship blossoming! What a refreshment in my life! And what a need being fulfilled.
It amazes me the way the Universe aligns and provides for needs you may have given up hope at ever seeing fulfilled. I feel so blessed and full with my Shabbat Ladies. I feel so blessed for the precious gift of our learning and time. There has been laughter and jokes shared, struggles and 'I'm not quite there' moments, and through this time I am realizing one very important thing: Rebbe Nachman tells us that "The whole world is a very narrow bridge, the main this is not be afraid." Well, truth be told, it sure is a lot easier to not be afraid when there is someone else there on the bridge with you and even better if you know they will hold your hand and cross it with you.