This Hebrew month is a time for exploring the themes of the high holiday season and preparing ourselves for their impact on us. We begin to recite the poetry of the holy days. We hear the shofar at dawn each day. We soften the ground so the work of the season can penetrate us.
We are facing the equinox – when day and night are even and the scale tips towards the darkness of the planetary night, winter. We are older. The light is fading and the plants are withdrawing into dormancy.
It’s been a hard year. We’ve adapted and we have felt depleted. We’ve protested, we’ve learned, we’ve voted. And the justice we seek is still arriving, still shy of the horizon. The T-shirt that says it all for my age group claims: “I can’t believe I’m still protesting this stuff!” Our young families are trying to help their children thrive in an incredibly challenging environment. Most of the social supports (schools, in-house helpers, family) are constrained or unavailable. God bless them! And all of us in between are trying to thrive, to connect, to make a meaningful life amidst layer after layer of challenge. It’s been a hard year.
In our tradition, one answer to the question “How are you doing?” is: “Baruch HaShem Yom Yom;” roughly “The blessing comes day by day.” And this is true! Each day, I look for partnership in doing good works. Each day, I work in my garden and tend my hens. Each day, I look for the sparks of joy that arise from a task completed or a new appreciation or a renewed connection with a friend. This is always how it us – whatever our age and stage. Whatever kind of year it’s been. If we are healthy or ill: Baruch HaShem Yom Yom.
Even the hard moments. Baruch HaShem that we care enough about creation to be stunned by climate change and ready to work for healing. Baruch HaShem that we have a human heart that beats with empathy for the injustices we know so much about and have so limited a capacity to relieve. Baruch HaShem that we are not alone.
I look forward to being with you during the Yamim HaNorah-eem, as we say, The Days of Awe, The Days of Being Awestruck. Shana tova to you and yours. A good year. May we find comfort, joy and meaning in the sparks of each day.