Wednesday, September 8, 2010
This morning, as I headed out the door on my way to morning minyan, the not-quite-risen sun had painted the eastern sky with gorgeous swaths of pink against the deep blue dawn sky. As I usually do, I briefly contemplated running back into the house for my camera before proceeding on my way.
This is the time of year in which sunrise takes place at roughly 7:15 a.m., which means it’s prime time for my catching those glorious painted skies. (Maybe I just should keep the camera in the car.) The mornings are cooler - in the low 60’s instead of the upper 70’s - and the first flashes of color are beginning to appear in the local foliage.
As I drive to the synagogue, I pass the neighborhood tennis court where a gaggle of elementary school children and their mothers have gathered to await the school bus. There’s something sweet about this neighborly gathering, the mothers (and the occasional dad) conversing while their kids find other distractions. None of those children, it occurs to me, was walking the planet when She Who Must Be Obeyed and I moved here twelve years ago... and the days when we would send our own daughters off to elementary school are long since gone.
It’s the last day of the year 5770. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown, and just as with the civil calendar’s New Year, it’s a time when it is natural to think about the passage of time. Years are like miles: given that Time is simply another dimension, there’s not a whole lot of difference between traveling along a road in the physical world and traveling along the Time-Axis that takes us from cradle to grave. And the odometer - the Jewish one, anyway - is about to turn over, registering the completion of yet another trip around the Sun, another spin of the Wheel of Life.
As the noted rabbinic scholar John Fogerty once observed, “Big wheel keep on turnin’.” No doubt he was using a riverboat’s paddlewheel as a metaphor for that selfsame Wheel of Life, the wheel that lifts up its blades on one side and dashes them under water on the other... just as we (quoth our seasonal liturgy) are raised up or brought low.
We all ride that cosmic carousel, hanging on for dear life as it spins away the seasons. We use milestones like New Years to keep track of how far we’ve come. How far we have yet to go, none of us knows... and I prefer it that way.
Ave atque vale, 5770 - and welcome 5771. To all of my Esteemed Readers, Jewish or not, may the coming year be sweet and full of all the good things life has to offer. And may we all be here together to offer the same greeting next year.