Pour out your heart like water; for you are in the presence of Hashem (Lamentations 2:19).

photo by Paul Gilmore

The mikveh.  The waters. The place we are supposed to pour out our hearts and ask for renewal.

While I struggled with infertility and subsequent neonatal loss, the mikvah experience was a scary, emotional, overwhelming, and often confusing one. It was a place that at my most broken moments I often felt unsure of what to say or think or feel or do in those waters. The waters that are supposed to represent rebirth – and yet they were not the birth I had been hoping for.  The waters that I knew to be symbolic of the womb – yet served as a reminder of the stark emptiness of my womb.  How was I to invoke the tefillot of a “shaat harachamim (time of mercy)”? And yet I so yearned for the renewal of those waters.

Recently, someone told me that sometimes the most important things to daven for are the things we “want to want,” because in our moments of crisis it’s often the best we can hope for and the most we can ask from ourselves. I think in a certain way this is ultimately how I related to the mikvah and found it to be a healing experience during my journey. In the times that I didn’t know how or what to say or daven for – or even if I wanted to immerse at all – I prayed for a day that I would want to be there again. And it was thinking about the waters that helped me do this.

I would close my eyes and let the tears stream down as I hoped that somehow my tears would be translated into prayers as they fell into the mikvah. These were tears that I never knew before and could have never imagined I would know how to cry. As I watched my tears converge with the waters of the mikvah I was overcome with the magnitude of what this small pool of water represented. It held not only my tears but the tears and hopes and prayers of all of women who came into the mikvah before me and will come after. For me, this is what made the waters I immersed in so powerful and ultimately healing. Suddenly, it was the waters themselves that allowed me to feel less alone and find the strength to move on.

שְפִכיַ כַּמִיםִ לֵּבך

Sometimes– we are able to pour out our hearts like water… and sometimes I need the waters to speak for me…