Today is Rosh Chodesh Adar, the first of the month of Adar, a time when we examine that which is hidden from us—G-d, our destinies, the needs of others, our deepest motivations, our unspoken emotions. Today, I am asking myself what I keep hidden from others and I am allowing myself to reveal the beauty I hide.
I stumbled upon this painting last night while cleaning out an old portfolio case. I’d painted it for Adar two years ago with the intention of showcasing it on Facebook. But like so many times before, I’d chickened out. My biggest fear is not failure; I’m so good at failing. It’s my own voice. It’s revealing my gifts. Too often, I hide myself.
I think when I painted her, I was desperately trying to connect with G-d in my life. G-d was hiding, this painting was my prayer to see G-d’s face, as we say in Birkat Kohanim, “Yisa Hashem Panav Eilecha” — “G-d will turn His face towards you.” Today, this painting takes on an entirely different meaning. I see the woman’s face as my own. She’s a part of me that’s ready to come out of hiding.
Her lips are closed. With just her eyes she says, “I matter. You matter.” Perhaps our deepest need is to be seen. Our greatest gift to others is showing them our work, our strength, our flaws.
She has many good reasons to hide. She’s not perfect: Her skin is uneven, she has scars on her forehead, her features disproportionate. Yet, when I look at her, all I see is someone longing to see and be seen. I look at her and I want to connect with her. I will wait for her while she stays behind the bushes until she’s ready to reveal more. Anything she gives is a gift.
I have learned the power of my voice and voices of the women around me. We all have so much to contribute. Just by showing others what we are already doing, we can lighten the lives of the people around us. We can empower ourselves to create and build more. We gain a community of support, and we bask in the appreciation of others.
I’m not a shy person, and I wonder where my need to cover up started. I think it’s the way I learned about tzniut (modesty) and anavah (humility). I learned that to be religious meant to hide. For so many of us, we need to shake off that conflation, because we have so much to offer.
I think about the ways I am stuck in my life and how I can increase my happiness. I think my answer is: showing myself. This Adar I want to do an experiment to exemplify “Mi’she nichnas Adar marbim b’simcha” — “when the month of Adar begins we increase our joy.” How much happier will I be by revealing more of my work, my insights, my life, my talents?
Again and again I have found that, when I’m brave enough to show my work and use my voice, I find wonderful opportunities revealing themselves to me, and it’s a source of tremendous joy. Maybe my first step to finding G-d’s revelation is revealing myself.