by Lisa Berman, Mikveh & Education Director
Expectations. Raised, lowered, managed. We can’t help it — we think about what an experience will be like and then we measure it. Was it as good as we’d hoped? What would we do differently next time? What do we wish had happened?
Mikveh is no different. I know from personal experience, and I know from reading our guests’ satisfaction survey responses.
As lovely as my immersion might have been, I’d inevitably forget something, and that’s what I would remember immediately afterwards. I forgot to file my nails. I forgot something important I meant to focus on. I didn’t leave enough time to take a leisurely bath.
Ritual is intended to get us out of our everyday, ever-chattering brains. Yet even when we are in the midst of a ritual, it’s hard to give ourselves permission to let go of imperfections as we enact it. We notice the smudge on the silver kiddush cup, the crumbs flying from the challah to the carpet, the recalcitrant havdalah candle wicks.
Our guests here at Mayyim Hayyim report wonderfully positive experiences in our mikvaot. And yet they, too, yearn for something just a little more perfect now and then. Perhaps one of these “I wish…” observations will make your next mikveh visit even better.
“I wish I had allowed time in the days prior for deeper preparation.”
“I wish I’d taken more time to take it all in. I wish I’d stayed in the water longer.”
“I wish I’d brought music in with me.”
“I wish I’d taken more time.”
“I wish there’d been pen and paper for my friends who wanted to write blessings and feelings in the moment.”
“I wish I’d brought a friend with me.”
“I wish I’d had more time during the immersion for prayer and reflection and not felt rushed by the clergy waiting outside.”
“I wish I had created a blessing that my husband and I could have given my daughter before or after she immersed.”
“I wish I’d realized that I could ask to immerse alone.”
“I wish it could’ve gone on forever.”
And yes, you can take as long as you like (almost always), bring friends, immerse alone, or bring music in with you. Have it go on forever? Well, let’s talk.
Lisa Berman is the Mikveh and Education Director at Mayyim Hayyim, ensuring that all immersions are facilitated with dignity, respect, and modesty, and supervising the Paula Brody & Family Education Center.