The December Project – Lightness & Grace

My sister-in-law Shirley is infused with light. I felt it emanating from her the first time we met (about 19 years ago!) and over the years, it has only brightened. She subscribes to my blog, so I won’t embarrass her with gushes and praise (or she may never talk to me again! lol) but I will say that one of the things I most respect about her is a decision she made years ago: to convert to Judaism. Hers is a gentle spirituality… and I have no doubt that she is a beacon for those who are struggling and searching. If I lived closer, I would be bugging her often. 🙂

We were talking about life… and death… quite the holiday discussion! She asked me if I’d ever heard of The December Project by Sara Davidson. I hadn’t. After telling me a little about it, she offered to lend it to me. I readily agreed and promised to write about it, too.

I have been a seeker for my entire life. Davidson is one, too. She was looking to understand “the winter of life” and found what she needed in Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi (1924-2014). Their conversations, every Friday, became the basis for this book.

Rabbi Shalomi has an amazing history… and I’d like to share this small snippet from one of the obituaries of his life:

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a spiritual innovator who developed a new trend in Judaism over the last half-century, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, July 3rd, 2014, at around 8:40AM in his home. He was 89. 

And, here’s something else… The Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi Collection is the post-Holocaust collection that bears his name.

What an amazing man! What a legacy! I love legacy, as evidenced by the many times I’ve discussed it in this space.

Davidson is no slouch herself. She’s a NY Times Bestselling author… and her specialty is “Life at this age”…  interesting, eh?

So, this book…

What is “The December Project”?

“When you can feel in your cells that you’re coming to the end of your tour of duty.”

The question then becomes: “What is the spiritual work of this time, and how do we prepare for the mystery?”

Every Friday for two years, the Rabbi and Davidson meet… through thick and thin… danger and health decline… life… and ultimately, death. And “The mystery” is what they talk about, among other things.

She is a sceptic. He is a Rabbi. What’s there to disagree about? *grin*

I want to share – first – that this didn’t “just happen.” Davidson went to see a lecture by Rabbi Zalman and afterwards, approached him and said if he needed help with the archive he was preparing at the time, to let her know. She never expected him to call. He did. I mention it only to say that sometimes, we need to get the ball rolling, even on our fate. But I digress.

The book is written in a very approachable, conversational way. There are ten (wonderful) exercises that touch on the things of God, intuition, and letting go. Be prepared, there’s a life review! The exercises were created to become more at ease with mortality. This will be important, heady, joyful, and/or frightening work… depending on where you are on your self-help journey (and how you feel about mortality). Totally worth it!

I admit that I sailed through the book. I hate borrowing books because if something happens to them… ugh! I’ve told you the story about the woman who borrowed one of my books and dropped it in the bathtub, of all places. Double ugh. But I don’t have to hurry to get it back to Shirley, so I’m going to read it again, slowly. Much to be gained here, friends and readers.

Oh, and did the sceptic change her mind? Hint: Let’s just say she learned about lightness and grace…

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