I live in a word called tov.
Tov is Hebrew for good.
We throw around the word “good” quite often.
Good work, bud. Good day, sir. Good golly, Miss Molly – okay, I’m guessing that most of you don’t say that.
Tov is a different kind of good.
Tov isn’t something spoken; it’s felt.
Tov is goodness so deep, so euphoric, that it makes the stomach jittery, takes breath away, head gets a bit dizzy and sometimes tears roll down cheeks without the ability to stop them.
In the beginning, I read that the Creator described His creation –the sun and the stars, the mountains and the sea, all the creatures from small to large- as tov.
We live in tov and we are tov.
At the core, we live in goodness and we are goodness.
Yes, this is a creation that I can believe in.
Yes, my Father is tov…
Tov like the center of a cinnamon roll – the softest, sweetest bite hugged in a swirl of spice, a gooey glob of melted icing dripping down the side.
Tov like the French fry at the bottom of the pile – the one with the crisp tips and the middle saturated in grease. Does the Bible not say, “Taste and see that the Lord is good”? Go ahead; taste it.
Tov like the first warm day after a long winter – the kind of day when you slip on the sundress and sandals, letting golden rays warm your skin, the kind of warmth that makes you forget about to-do lists and work and stress.
Tov like a hug from a grandparent, an old teacher, a friend you haven’t seen in years – an embrace that you don’t quite want to get out of, because it’s been so long, or you don’t want to say goodbye.
Tov like watching your parents dance to their wedding song. Maybe they’ve forgotten the steps, or their bodies are a little less nimble than before, but as you watch, you see the love that first sparked their life-long journey together, the love that was shy and sweet and probably a little nervous, too, the love that created you.
Tov like reaching into a box of old photos and finding gems that were created long ago — ones of learning to tie shoes and bedtime stories and combing the tangles out of your hair before the first day of school. It’s the deep well of thankfulness that comes from the gift of family, by blood and by Spirit.
Tov like the gentle nudging of the Spirit, who tenderly guided me to the store this Mother’s Day to pick up a carton of strawberries and a chocolate croissant, then led me to the park where I sat in patch of fresh-cut grass. Every juicy berry, every flake of puff pastry, I enjoyed with my mom. People around me may not have been able to see her, but I sure could. I felt that tov like none other.
Tov like reaching the top of a long, steep hike with a view so expansive, so glorious, that all you can do it stop and sit and stare, thinking, ‘There is so much more in life than me.’
Moments of tov sneak up on us daily, if we open our eyes to them, if we are willing to take the risk to let tov unfold around us.
I’ve seen tov sitting next to me on the city bus – a man with eyes closed, singing Mariah Carey as if he were at the Grammys.
I’ve seen it at the farmers’ market, children dancing and clapping their hands as the man with the out-of-tune banjo plucked a tune.
I’ve seen it on muddy soccer fields and in a pool of rainwater.
I’ve seen it tucked in envelopes, in grasped hands at a gravesite, around the family table when dinner is served.
Tov exists whether I choose to believe it or not.
It can be a daily battle to pry open my human eyelids to see tov on days when it gets so heavy and dark and hard.
But I know that tov is there, like it always has been and always will be.
So I pray that, like the French fry, I can live a life that is saturated in tov. I want to trust in the goodness of my Father so much, that on any given day, whether I’m on the mountaintop or in the valley, my spirit will be soaked in His light, filling my heart with gratitude that I am even here at all.
Tov I inhale.
Tov I open every pore in my body to absorb.
Tov, Father, let me be tov in your kingdom.
For with tov at my center, nothing can shake me. Nothing.