Updated: Sep 2, 2021
I've written about our local mikve (ritual bath) and how we sometimes have to brave the elements (rockets) in order to fulfill the mitzva of attending the mikve once a month. But Corona took us to another level of restrictions in regards to everything. We've had to reorganize, find new paths and ways of doing things. We've had to break old patterns and step out of our comfort zone to make life functional again.
The mikve requires showering, and immersing into the bath. We are required to be completely nude: no clothes, jewllery, make-up, nail polish, or any thing that might impede our connection to the almighty during this very ceremonial mitzva. The mikve attendant is required to check our bodies for loose hair, trimmed nails and anything we might have missed while preparing for the bath. It was a time of connection to the moon, the divine femine and a special time shared between women.
I completely understand the fear, and why so many people were made afraid of any close contact because of covid. So masks and gloves at the mikve became a separation, so did distancing, paper towels, no touching (self examination instead of the attendant checking) laying the donation on the table instead of giving into her hands. No one can breathe so the conversation dropped to a minimum. No laughter, no more joy , no more smiling, telling stories etc. The attendant felt scared and extra cautious so it was a hurried affair, no more taking our time and just relaxing and revelling in the moment. I had been picking her up so that we could drive together to the mikve. But she was scared to get into the car with me, so I began to meet her there. Occasionally she sat in the back of the car with her mask on far from me so there was no conversation, eye contact or anything. I am not blaming anyone for feeling this way, but for me it became a sad and joyless place.
Each time I got to the mikve I felt heavy instead of joyous. I kept thinking it might be better to just not come. Finally it got so depressing, that I felt apprehensive about calling for an appointment , so I didn't. However........
We have a small pool. We built it about 15 years ago. All of my children learned to swim here when they were little. This pool holds many memories from throughout the years. We open it every summer and close it up for the winters. But a few months ago in the middle of corona, I had inspiration to use our pool as my mikve all year long. That way I could continue to keep the mitzva of the mikve with absolute joy. Our circular pool is a salt water pool and tiled with big smooth tiles that give it the look and feel of a natural spring . It sits under a tall eucalyptus tree that we planted at about the same time that we built the pool. The dew collects on the leaves and drips every morning into the water of the pool. The tree shelters the pool from the burning sun, but the moon shines through infusing the pool with it's power. It refreshes the water so that it always feels spiritual and alive.
We share the water with visiting bees, birds, dragonflies, frogs and any other creatures in need of a drink of water. We added an abandoned slide as a waterfall so our water goes through a vortex which helps to keep the water cleaner and purer, but it also gives this amazingly peaceful sound. It attracts us to the area and many times we don't want to leave. I use the space to meditate,, write or just relax.
We put up a bamboo fence for complete privacy. So I can dip into the pool at night unnoticed . It's the perfect mikve and I don't know why it took me until to corona to use it for the mitzva. Years before, I thought it wasn't kosher enough to use for a mikve, but it's open to the heavens collecting rain and dew water all year round and it's small, chlorine-free, clean and alive. similar to the Mikvaot in Masada thousands of years ago.
It's corona that has opened up new ideas and opportunites for all of us. It's all about recognizing the new space and following through with our actions despite our fears. So this is my new mikve. I don't have to travel or feel ashamed to be a human being. I feel alive and joyous and connected to the mitzvah. I wish for all of us to find our truth during this time and to have the strength to see it shine.....
Update: For the winter months, either I brave the cold waters in my pool/mikve, or I pump the pool water into a person-sized plastic silo and heat it with a portable metal stick water heater (that is used in water heaters). After I immerse, I dump the water back into the pool, then repeat the next month.