I have always liked to think of Nadav and Avihu as the first religious innovators, trying to build on tradition while creating meaningful ritual. Unfortunately, they were a little ahead of their time and so they suffered the consequences. Once you read my midrash you'll understand why I say this.
However, I also believe this narrative can relate to the principles of mindfulness. You will see my comments on this in the epilogue.
After re-reading my midrash I wondered how it might relate to principles of mindfulness. In pondering this question I came up with a few responses:
1) Re-reading the original narrative and my midrash, reminded me of the importance of the moment. Being mindful of my current reactions helped me to catch a glimpse of where I was in the moment when I read the text. This "being in the moment" is certainly an essential tenet of mindfulness.
2) In reading the text I realized that there were parts of my midrash (which I originally wrote a few years back) with which I no longer agreed. My urge was to change the midrash in order to make it read as I would like it to read in 2011. However, this was based in a belief that the current midrash was not "perfect". It was not exactly what I wanted it to be at this moment. However, nothing is perfect, nothing is the best or worst. things simply are what they are. If we try to change ourselves in order to make ourselves "better" it not only implies that we are not good as we are, it does not allow us to
appreciate who we are (or what we have created) simply as it is - warts, beauty marks, and all! And so, I did not change anything.
3) Building on my two previous points, I realized that in this moment I did not necessarily want to react to the Torah text in the way that I did when I wrote this midrash. There was a big part of me that wanted to write a new commentary simply because I wanted to focus on different issues in the story of Nadav and Avihu. However, this again points to the reality that in each moment our reaction differs based on who and where we are in that moment. But rather than judge my previous commentary as "bad" because it didn't fit where I was in this moment, I was able to accept it as indicative of where I "was" when I wrote it. Again, this is neither bad nor good ... it simply is what it is.
4) Finally, in re-reading the midrash I realized that Nadav and Avihu (and the readers of the midrash) can learn another important lesson from what occurred. For perhaps what Nadav and Avihu did that caused them to be burned up was not simply innovating before their time. Rather, it was simply not being "in their time." In other words, Nadav and Avihu were so enthralled by the past (what they had witnessed when the fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice) that they immediately began to think about how they could recreate it in the future.