The month or so leading up to Rosh Hashanah left me fraying at the edges—something I wrote about here.
I’m feeling much better now. Things are feeling manageable. It helps that we’re in the house, getting settled in bit-by-bit, and that most of the major effort involved in the purchase and move is behind me now.
One of the first signs I had that my mental and emotional state was really on the mend? Six days after moving in, I listened to NPR during my entire morning commute.
For weeks prior, I hadn’t been able to listen to the news, pretty much at all. I mean, I’d try. But ISIS and Ebola and wait—what the hell was Scotland doing? It was all I could do to keep up with my job and the kids and the house and the move. The rest of the world and its troubles was too much; I’d listen to music instead.
As I write this now, I’ve been listening to NPR and reading news online for almost a full two weeks, with breaks for the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In a way, these internally focused holidays have acted as helpful speed bumps on my journey back into the world. Slow down, they say. Approach your life with care and consideration.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are behind me now, too. Next up is Sukkot, one of my favorite holidays. Sukkot is the one where we build a sukkah—a simple frame structure, open to sun and rain, covered in twigs and branches that leave spaces for stars to twinkle through at night. For the eight days of the holiday, the idea is to be in the sukkah as much as possible—eating in it for sure, but also sleeping in it, having friends over to share time in it, etc.
In the sukkah, we have a semblance of structure and protection—and yet we are completely vulnerable. Much like life. And that’s part of the point. We know we are vulnerable, and yet we go out into the world and build and eat and do anyway.
Another reason I love the holiday of Sukkot? During Sukkot, we are commanded to be joyful. That’s right. Commanded to be joyful. In our fragile, open-to-the-elements structures, we are to be joyful—appreciating the time and the people and the gifts that we have here in the present moment, while we have them.
I am planning to be out of town for much of the Sukkot holiday this year, celebrating my grandmother’s 90th birthday (happy birthday, G-Mom!) and then helping to lead a listening & learning trip for a group of seminarians to communities on the Texas-Mexico border. While I’ll miss some days of sukkah time, I feel like the Border trip is appropriate for both the holiday and this moment in my life.
In my understanding, the reflective, inwardly focused holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur aren’t complete without the outwardly focused, action- and world-oriented holiday of Sukkot.
Good timing, then. Moving back into active engagement with the world around me is exactly where I’m at right now.