Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Be Here Now

13 Tishrei, 5771

Every time I need inspiration, I go over to our ECC.  It’s a special place (and not just because Eva, her staff, and our parents are unbelievable). It’s actually rare to be able to interact with young kids in this world, and I’ve forgotten what gifts their presence brings to our lives.

So giddy and more than a little fatigued after Yom Kippur, I trooped over to visit. And what I thought, seeing them play, was that we’ve all just done a very adult thing. To be bohen levavot – searching our hearts – introspecting for over a month, diving into our own complexity, managing the demand that our lives be propelled forward with the need that we change their course – I can’t think of a more mature thing to do.

Watching these kids play, though, was a totally different experience. They are all now; they are all here; at most they are yesterday but certainly not twenty years in the past nor ten in the future.

It made me think of Sukkot (I apologize for that, but it’s a professional hazard). Rabbi Akiva teaches that sukkot are supposed to evoke annanei hakavod – clouds of glory. After the splitting of the sea, Midrash teaches that God carried us to Sinai in these clouds, which kept our clothes ever clean and new, prevented our shoes from wearing out, and other such miracles. The point being that inside the clouds of glory it was always now, always here: there was not the urge of the future, not the need to replace worn out things, no errands, groceries, etc. It was a world that moved without the consequences of movement.

And that’s what, ideally, life inside a sukkah is meant to be.

I’m not advocating that we use Sukkot to act like we’re in nursery school – there are some rather obvious downsides to that strategy; but rather that we enjoy what Dr. Bruce Powell once called simplicity on the other side of complexity. It isn’t that we’re being childish, not examining our lives, but rather realizing that the point of self-examination is to introduce a beautiful simplicity into our lives.

The urges of the year press: things to do, kids to school, programs to plan, work to finish. But for just a moment, let’s be here now. 

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