Through the Gates is a series of evocative daily messages that guide the reader through the practice of counting the Omer. Weaving a spiritual memoir as well as offering guidance for the intricate discipline of the Omer, poet Susan Windle writes to a group of companions who share the same contemporary Jewish mystic for a teacher. She writes as a way of engaging in the spiritual discipline that marks the forty-nine days of the Omer, the seven weeks between the spring festival of Pesach (Passover) and the early summer festival of Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks which is the Hebrew foundation for the Christian celebration of Pentecost. In the course of counting the days, Susan tells the story of her “convergence” with Judaism. Methodist by heritage, with a long connection to Unitarian Universalism, Susan became a Jewish by choice in 2008. A bridge builder in many ways, Susan has been described as a multifaith community within herself. For seekers of all faiths, Through the Gates reveals a true treasure of the Jewish mystical path. Through the exploration of this ancient spiritual practice, with loving attention to the struggles and surprises of daily life, the poet invites the reader into intimate engagement with the mystery of life itself. Susan’s story, as it unfolds through the days of the Omer, is celebratory, sweetly challenging, and deeply satisfying.
From her Introduction, in "How to Use this Book," Susan Windle writes "These writings offer company and encouragement as you move through the practice of counting the Omer. The daily reflections and poems I’ve included are an invitation to attend to the quieter voices and subtler energies of your life, voices easy to miss in the rush-rush, flash-flash of contemporary daily life. The book is meant to be read day by day, each passage on its numbered day. For those new to the practice of counting the Omer, I include instructions on how to count the traditional way—beginning the second night of Passover, standing, after sundown, on the eve of each changing day."
The author goes on to explain,"Each day’s entry will include a letter to my Kol Zimra companions, within which is a poem of mine I have selected to help carry the energy of the day, as well as a message to you. Allow in your day some time for personal reflection. This may include journal or letter writing, art making, chanting or other music, yoga, sitting meditation, conversations with friends, a combination of any of these, or something else that works for you. The important thing here is to do something with the Omer, not just think, but do. ... counting the Omer by the Tree of Life is more than a mental exercise or a topic of discussion. The sephirot are portals, actual gateways to a deepening and expanding awareness of an extraordinary beauty: the heaven that hovers within and all around our so-called ordinary lives. The gates open to us when we open to them."