Rosh Hashanah is upon us – tomorrow night. And I confess I’ve seen three movies in two days! This is the first time in at least 12 years that I haven’t had a major role to play in at least two services, if not all of them, over the next two weeks, and I find myself mostly exulting. I will actually get to pray – with friends, in different communities I love. I’ll be involved on Yom Kippur (at Congregation Ner Shalom), but in a small way, co-leading (my favorite) one section, chanting torah, and helping with the children’s service. But mostly, I’ll get to pray. And I’m pretty happy about it.
I started doing an Elul blog, and found, in the middle of a conversation with someone about something completely different, I realized I didn’t particularly like it when other people posted something every day, so what was I thinking??? So I stopped, not wanting to burden people. I realized later that it would have been a smart thing for me to keep it up, to keep myself focused. But there’s always next year.
But I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationships and about the people with whom I still need to talk with. But I do that work every night at bedtime, so mostly I think there are only a couple of people left to work things out with.
But I realize I COULD definitely be more attentive to my loved ones. I have to loosen my dependence on my electronics, take some fallow time not to be hooked up to them. I find that in those times when I leave my phone at home or in the car when I’m out, a small part of my brain misses it, and the rest is actually pretty relieved. But I have to be able to do that without actually leaving it somewhere, because emergencies DO happen. Yes again, I pledge to control my mouth more than I do–I am surely an example of why our liturgy spends so much time expecting us to need forgiveness for the words out of them. I might want to watch one or two fewer cat videos, but part of me thinks, no, this is not the worst way to spend time.
My life feels incredibly blessed at the moment: I work with wonderful people, my daughter is so much healthier and happier than she was this time last year, as is my husband, who is thriving with his (new) garden. I love officiating weddings and people are coming to me about them. I am moving forward to find ways to do more teaching/learning with adults. I have managed to handle job application rejections with grace and move on. I love the wealth of resources and wonderful teachers for me to learn from here.
And at the same time, I am conscious of how horrible things are in the world. The King fire threatens the health of my friends in Tahoe. Antisemitism is rearing its head, blaming Jews for all the troubles in the Middle East. At the same time, the current Israeli government has no interest in the two state solution, none, not a bit. And the ultra Orthodox see me as much of the other as a woman as the French see me as Jew. The deaths from sectarian violence in the Middle East and Africa continue to plague us. And racism and sexism in the US lead to death and violence on a daily basis. And African Americans are accused of playing the race card! We have to be willing to have real conversations.
Droughts, hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, floods–the earth does not seem happy with us. We are doing so little about climate change that we are ensuring a disastrous life for our children and their children, rather than leaving them a significantly worse environment than our parents left us. The story of Honi the Circle Maker who planted a carob tree knowing it would never bear fruit in his lifetime because his grandfather had planted one for him is not a story we embrace. (I was thrilled to hear last week that Islam has an almost identical story.) Now we all just have to live it. I am thankful we could install solar on our new home’s roof, and that our Prius is doing well. Sam has planted an orchard of fruit trees. But it’s a drop in the bucket of our carbon footprint as Americans.
I pray that this year brings peace to the world, or even to pockets of it; that there is enough food and water for everyone to eat; that the Ebola epidemic ends before killing 1.4 million people, according to a recent prediction; that we grow more able to see the other as a member of our human family; that we learn to conquer our harshness with love and with the ability to step back and watch ourselves; that we help each other to love ourselves as well as others. I pray that each of us gains spiritual insights that help us live lives dedicated to – truth, beauty, justice, kindness.
May this all come to pass.