Dear TEE community,
What a joy it was to be together for the high holidays! We were so lucky to have outdoor space and (mostly) beautiful weather. As always, our observances were made more meaningful by the large number of participants. In addition to seeing each other in person, the highlight of our holiday season was dedicating and using our new ark, which literally glowed with light and color throughout our services.
We had hoped that the holidays would mark the beginning of a regular in person schedule but, as the saying goes, humans plan and God laughs. Once more we are in a moment of in-between, balancing the need for connection with the desire to remain healthy.
This season of Sukkot is particularly apt for thinking about the vagaries and vulnerabilities of life. The festival involves two seemingly contradictory aspects. The first is that of a harvest celebration, gathering to eat and drink beneath the full moon, grateful for the bounty of the earth. The second is an emphasis on the unpredictable and transitory nature of our human existence. While the sukkah is beautiful, it is impermanent and open to the elements, providing little or no shelter from inclement weather. For our ancient ancestors, it was a season of both rejoicing and uncertainty, thankful for the present crop but wondering whether the rains would come as needed so that the next harvest would be successful.
We face different, but still compelling, uncertainties. Like many people, I struggle to accept the ambiguity of being betwixt and between. Some time ago, I found a poem that has encouraged my work on that acceptance and I copied these lines to put up over my desk:
to concentrate on…
those humble steps,
those one-after-the-other steps,
which are the only ones I can really take.
Help me to love a slow progression,
to have no prejudice
that up is better than down or visa versa.
Help me to enjoy the in-between.*
At this time of year, our ancestors were able to both acknowledge the unpredictability of life and celebrate in the midst of that uncertainty. I hope that we all may be able to do the same.
Mo’adim l’simcha – wishing you a season of joy,
Rabbi Drorah Setel
*from Gunilla Norris, “Climbing Stairs,” Being Home: A Book of Meditations, New York: Bell Tower, 1991