Tag Archives: Shabbat

Cultural

In the US, at least in the midwest portion, the standard is to inquire about what one did for the latest religious holiday just past.

My standard is to reply “I don’t observe”.

It’s a very quick end to the conversation and if I were skilled at conversing I would be able to redirect so that it didn’t feel so awkwardly halted.

It seems that many people in my area are completely unaware of the religious traditions outside of christianity. Those dates may or may not appear on a printed calendar or in a specialty shop, but for the most part those other dates important to their keepers are brushed aside or unknown by many people. There is likely the unstated opinion that those dates are less important, or not relevant since a majority prefers the well-known dates. It’s stifling sometimes.

I did a quick search on the standards, to find at what point dates became stated as US owned or observed days. It seems that most of what is determined to be Federal Holidays were established in the late 1800s and edited in the early 1900s. The dates were primarily set to determine time off and pay standards for federal workers, not meant as a US standard for all citizens.

I also took a peek at an ancestor’s writings, and find that the early days of the US held much more closely to the biblical calendar than I ever realized. Check out the Diary of Thomas Miner (or Minor). He wrote during the last third of his life. He immigrated from England, and settled in the Mystic/Stonington area of Connecticut. It’s not an easy read, old English simply isn’t. Of great interest to me: his year began in spring, around March/April, with the new growth signalling a new year. As is biblically written; as matches an agrarian cycle! In the US, mind you. Originally. In the 1600s.

We accustom ourselves to our surroundings and take on the notion that this is how it is supposed to be – what we learned was the rule, what we were taught from our cultural inheritance. To what harm, I ask?

Who determined that January 1 should be a new year, and what was the reasoning? Was this a change to something that was long-standing? What benefit – or who benefits from this change?

That seriousness aside, the true reason I’m writing is to express the joy of spring as this first month of my year rolls past.

Yesterday, on Shabbat, I traveled to a wildlife refuge.

The trip was sublime, as an eclectic mix of music accompanied my drive.

Scenes of green and brown, blue and white;

the rolling and winding roadways along the way;

a crispness to the air which felt perfectly warm in pockets of wind break.

I arrived at the refuge and began scanning the rolling hills to each side; crossing the cattle guard into the open range as I expectantly looked – maybe after the next rise?

And then as I crested the hill, noting the traffic ahead – they were there! A herd of buffalo to my right, still distant – and a few tucked into a descending tree spotted ravine, closer to me.

I slowed and looked to my left and realized that the stars of the view were present there!

The elk herd!

The male standing prone on the top of the hill, head turned toward me; his females and youngsters mostly laying on the hill around him. I pulled to the side and stopped.

I was the main concern for the male and he kept his head turned straight at me for a while… then a sound from the traffic up ahead.

He began the slow pan of the horizon, looking back to me… and then, satisfied, he lowered his head some. Still watchful, but accepting.

Camera! Where’s my phone? Ugh!

Yes, a trip without the phone – not something I would normally do. So the pictures were only what I watched. Both sides. Capturing memories.

Bladder pressing, I moved on to meet my needs and then turned back to return home.

Buffalo not in the same place, I kept heading forward and then I realized what happened.

The buffalo herd had followed the leaders in the ravine and crossed the road. Most were grazing greedily at the ground salad near the road, while a few had moved on up the hill and were halfway to the still lounging herd of elk.

Again, I stopped. The buffalo were so close now, it was a treat – a safely distanced treat – to watch them tear the greens from their anchors. Pawing and head shaking to angle for a better munch, as they side eyed me a time or two.

I looked to the few on the hill and then realized that they were nearly to the elk –

and the large female elk had risen and moved toward the male.

The two came to some agreement between them…

and then the buffalo slowly moved in. Right amongst the elk herd.

Sweet memories that.

To home I returned, settling nicely into the back yard to watch the first dragonfly of the year and the first eastern tiger swallowtail – both testing the winds and the scents.

And then, to my surprise, the first honeybee was seen sampling my fine garden of dandelions!

A Shabbat to remember for me.

An end to the month of special Shabbats – Passover, the First and Seventh days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The first day of the new year, the abib stage of the barley.

Customs.

Extremely important culture to me.

Runaway – (was: Perhaps We Should All Be Grounded)

I wanted to run away.

Still do, but the voices are receding.  Still there, whispering… but easier to ignore.

This is away, I say to self.  Tucked inside, shelter at home.  This is away…

Then the space – the distance my eyes can stretch – closes in on me.  My eyes need to ssttrrrrrrrrre……tttccchhhhhh.

I can say it differently, but not well.

I get the desire, an ache and longing for my eyes to see across distance.  The reach of view is something base and needy in me.

Not claustrophobia.  No.  That’s not it.  It’s a visual space sighting that takes the mind and soul along, freeing anxieties, calming tension and overriding thought patterns – sending the everyday adrift on a sea of calm.

And so, I’ve redirected.  Frantically perusing the real estate posts, I had obsessed on the away of the running.  I wanted a space, a place, a seat at a location that would allow my eyes their desire – an owned space, one that I could count on to go for retreat.  A place where I could gaze out over a horizon, or toward water, or along a long stretch of trees…  It was such a delicious dream.  I could nearly catch hold of it, clench my knobby fingers around it.

Dream bubble burst when hubby reminded me “I know you.  I know you.  You’ll be ‘over it’ in two weeks.”

What?  What?  Two weeks?  Huh??

No.  No way.

But I mulled.  I stepped back and realized that I was planning in my head and pressing my plans on him.  I didn’t notice.  My eyes hadn’t been able to stretch outside my needy little vision field.

So I told him the next time it came up, when he said finally that he really just wanted to focus on home, here, now, this space… that’s when the words that had been percolating spilled out.  “Yes.  We will wait, I agree with you.”  And that’s when I stopped the perusal.  Cold turkey.  I had to – it was addictive.

Now I’m still working on what to do with that time.  Past the first stage – no longer top of mind, that search.  That’s where the night skies salvaged my angst for escape.  The long view.  That’s what I needed… and hubby reminded me of that once I listened.

I found that I can get the long view with night skies.

Why not overhead day skies?  Likely because the mind cannot fathom past the blue, grey, white…?  Who knows.

I think I simply find the view straight up into the night sky more immense, implying great space and vastness and beauty beyond the traverses of my vision.

The pull of the internet is overreaching.  Search for answers, quest for options, finger clicks for food and need and want orders, looking perhaps for community or commonality or simply agreement.  It’s alluring.  And dangerous.

We’ve become a nation, a world of wants.  We want much – respect, youth, admiration, plush, adventure, fun, to LIVE.  Oh my.  We’re such easy targets when driven by the fear we’re fed.  The fear of death, of others, of disrespect, of lack, of displeasure, of appearance, of loss, of despair, of settling… The system is powerful, and dependent on us.

It’s hard to be an observer.  It’s hard to get caught up in the tide, the sweeping and overarching wave of discord, of division, of want and need and desire and … fear.  Who wouldn’t want to run away?  Right?

Grounded.

That’s how I felt looking up and to the vastness surrounding the lights and stars and moon.

Okay – confession.  Pissy in between.  Mad at the inability to discern which lights are natural and which are not.  But I digress.

Grounded.  I can do similarly when laying under the tree in the warm seasons.

How do a people ground themselves?  Unlock the chains of persuasion and simply find that internal calm.  Calm that gives assuage to the nagging, gnarling thoughts bred by the divisive words we’ve been fed.

Grounded.  Then the need to run will dissipate and we’ll figure out where we are.  Right?

I confess.  I creep around social media, reacting in my head, sometimes enraged, mostly feeling ever so more disconnected from people I have known over decades… sometimes feeling the need to avoid family.  Emotional and passionate claims from all avenues.  Staunch defenses of opinions and line in the sand drawn disclaimers for those who do not agree.

Reacting automatically, my fingers are nearly drawn to the keys.  No, stop, don’t… this is not the mountain I want to die on, ya know?  So I harbor little nigglings of resentment – or simply avoid those with statements that deny others similar rights.

What lies underneath this, the discord, is the run away obsession.  We all want to run away from reality – we want to create different realities, we have different needs, wants, feelings – but we’re all in run away mode, addictively pounding those social media keys, those remote control keys, those smartphone keys, looking for more, for inclusion, for agreement, or for a fight.

We need to be grounded.  Allow the voices to subside.  Reach deeply for calm.

Shabbat shalom all.  I hope you find your calm.

Anticipate

It’s Sabbath morning and quiet surrounds me, envelops me. The cat lies curled at my feet, steamy coffee sits nearby, soft light clears the darkness and the background sounds of the house tick and whir around me.

A week long shutdown, the usual for this time of year, for hubby and I. We’ve always remained at home – joining throngs of travelers in questionable weather conditions never made sense to us for this shutdown week – and this year is no different… except.

The guys are still sleeping, stirring a bit, beginning to ease out of their deep sleeps. And I, quietely awake with my thoughts, my anticipation. Planning. Imagining.

We will arrange to pick up sweet granddaughter tomorrow. She will come and stay with us this week, merging into our household patterns and creating new ripples. I’ve puttered and shuffled and fussed this week, to create spaces throughout the house to give her entertainment nooks, and creativity niches and playtime crannies. Some spaces are for time spent in the great grandad area of the house, and some spaces are for time spent in the grandad area of the house, and a little bit of space set aside to relish as her own.

It’s new to us still, this sharing of our lives with my dad – and the temporary addition of sweet granddaughter is another new to add to the experience. He’s not an overly involved elder, and I expect he’ll sit amused for a spell and then be ready to resume his standard schedule.

A lot of new to us happened this calendar year, nearly all of it beginning in this biblical year as well. Pandemic announce and response, fear and anxiety settling into actions and acceptance; my dad’s hospitilization in the throes of the fear and feeling the helplessness of a loved one held captive in the healthcare system as we worried from the other end of the phone signal; awareness of dad’s near-death and bringing him home to care for him – then watching over the months as his physical health stabilized; accepting that he wasn’t going back to his rented house and then packing and storing his lifetime goods; finding ourselves with a rental house and a resident elder and not having prepared for this scenario – and then deciding to finish and sell the rental, as time constraints and wisdom caution us to not overbook ourselves with responsibility; finding out during this phase that my siblings are only ever self-serving and our open door policy has, over time, created their expectation that we are only for serving their needs — an awareness that we countered by setting firm boundaries; the delight in a week spent lakeside in fall, to rest and refresh our overwrought minds and bodies; a surprise opportunity for a quick first time visit with a long-time friend, the Hebrew priest, who has been a long-distance community member for over a decade – to finally meet he and his youngest son, and receive garden advice at our home – a poignant segment of time by which to remember this year.

And now, tomorrow, to host our granddaughter for the week – she’s six now and will perhaps receive and participate in memories during this stay that will last her lifetime – the memories will certainly last my lifetime.

Ah, shabbat. The anticipation is savored and held close to my heart on this day of rest.

Coming Around

Here’s what happens when a logical type gets sideswiped by emotional drain – damage.  Angry words.  Stiff-necked positioning.  Self protection.

In order to protect from any further impact, I put up the overall force field.  I lashed out at the hospice assistant who had repeatedly cancelled days and firmly stated don’t come here if I can’t count on you — I’ll do it myself.  I backed off family who gave me the response of being overwhelmed too — stop coming in early, come in later and I’ll handle it til then.  I held off my boss who said cut your help and began taking back tasks, cutting help hours.  Overwhelm on top of overwhelm.

The preface to it all was the final straw – the addict brother who has lost nearly everything, making another imposition, expecting that he could treat our home as his own, not asking – just taking.  That drew the line in the sand and we posted no trespass signs on our properties.  Then I told him to his face.  Then he read it on the private family blog to keep closest family notified of the stages my father is going through.  I am now enemy number one on his list.  Does he remember the times I faced down guns he held?  Does he remember putting my son at risk?  Does he recall that I took his babies and sheltered them for a summer?  No, he only takes and takers forget to pay attention.

So, the drama had unfolded, and I played victim.  Overwrought, feeling the approach of a total meltdown.  You likely saw the last post.  I had reached the end of my endurance.

Then we went camping, hubby and I.  Left on Friday afternoon, and by sundown had set up the camp and moved into full relax mode.  I enjoyed my first Shabbat since my dad arrived at our home three months ago.  It was simply wonderful.  Cooling breeze, sounds of leaves rustling and birds and insects fluttering and futzing about.  The lake water off in the distance and wafting sounds of people frolicking in the waters.

I have some reserve now.  A store of patience, and some energy reserve to see us through the next steps.

We have emptied the rental house of my dad’s belongings and will now begin the last steps to prepare the house for sale.  We will have to continue our day jobs and care of my dad as well, but once that is done, one major task is lifted from the plate of overwhelm.

We’ll get there, right?

Mid-Life: Crisis or Crux

Once again I find myself addressing the void, the lack of posts, the unspoken pieces.

There has been a lot of activity in the last year or so; so much to excuse the silence.   A lot of accomplishments, a lot of hard work, a lot of necessary doings – and a lot of deep thinking.

We often hear about mid-life crises – those defining moments when a person in their advancing years puts in a hearty attempt to stop the clock, to return to their youth in defiance of the advance.  I’ve witnessed this phenom, multiple times.  I’ve also dabbled with it off and on myself, when surrounded by youthful coworkers.

I’ve decided, however, that this is a thinly woven cover-up for the reality of mid-life.

Reality?  Mid-life is a crisis, a crux – a very poignant step where you find yourself staring at hard truths.

Who am I under all of this detritus?  Now that I’ve forged a path, albeit paved with a mish-mash variety of materials that ramble hither and thither with only the thread of staid peoples flowing constantly through, I stand at this juncture looking around and find…  myself.  That’s not what I went looking for long ago – in fact, I can assure you that I was actually running furiously from self.  Surprise!   And the best part?  I like me.  Who-da-thunk?

What are my priorities?  Having accomplished minimal security, in the paid-off home and accouterments, I am now free to look around and find that family is once again at the top of the list.  Except that I find myself pulled in both directions – toward adult children and their families and toward my remaining parent in his advanced years.  I’ve been in similar circumstance, while raising the children and caring for my handicapped mother.  But I had the understated stake on youth at that point, and was able to keep multiple plates spinning with nary a drop.

Where do we go from here?  Youth is gone.  There’s no recapture of the strength and stamina – and we will simply ignore the elephant in the room, ol’ beauty and the beast who now peers back from the glass.  The priorities are going to take a toll on us, that’s just a fact we’ll have to accept – and we’re not yet in a position to leave the work world, to free up time to better fit all of the pieces.

So my synopsis is that a mid-life crisis is not as we’ve always presumed.  Truly, it’s a point in life where we find ourselves split in three directions, filling three positions, nurturing three households.  We are the crux, the point between the past and the future.

Our goal?  To persevere.  And to do it well enough that our future selves may look back with fond memories, and peer out to see no longer ourselves, but the results of our hard work, our future generations.

 

Settling In

It’s been a while since we moved to a new home, a new lawn, a new town.  I mourned the loss of the gardens I’d built, the soil that had formed from the years of tending.  Until I could once again focus my efforts on that building, I was in limbo, unsettled you might say.

Well, we’re finally settling in.  The ancillary gardens are coming along quite nicely, and the garden proper is now defined.  The working and waiting and tending and watching will begin in earnest.

Today, I enjoyed.  Here are a few of the items that were brought over from the old home.

Coneflowers, coreopsis and blueberry transplants

Golden currant and sage transplants

Rhubarb, aster and sage transplants

Solomon’s seal and ajuga transplants

 

The other plants you saw in these photos are new, or were here when we moved in and have been transplanted to where I prefer them.

These shots are new things added, to create new spaces and sights.

Potted beauties

Gramma’s hippie garden

Lovely salvia

 

Bits and pieces as we settle in.  🙂

Shabbat shalom.

Trisha R

Chag Sameach Pesach

Happy Festival of Passover.

On the fourteenth day, at dusk, we eat the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter greens, with feet shod and loins girded.  And any lamb left over from the whole roasted lamb, is not to remain until the morning, it is to be burnt entirely in the fire.

That’s what I recall from the reading.

And that’s why I don’t keep the feast, just the remembrance.  I don’t have the means to roast a whole lamb, and I don’t have a physical community with which to share the extra meat.

I have purchased unleavened crackers.  And I will rid the property of items that contain leaven tomorrow, as the First Day of Unleavened Bread, Hag HaMatzot, begins at sundown and will last for seven days.  I will also bake unleavened bread tomorrow, using a favorite recipe.

Just like any other restriction, just before the deadline, you’ll find me cramming in samples of the restricted item, slice by slice, piece by piece, bit by bit.  I’ve enjoyed buns and pound cake and toast and cookies and crackers this week.

Over-enjoyed, really.

It will be good for me to refrain for seven days.  Likely a shock to my system, considering the past month of over indulging on bread and baked stuffs.  I’m ready though.

I’m somber already, as the Holy Days always strike me as such sorrowful times.  I simply don’t consider them to be the celebrations they were meant to be, when I’m living in exile.

But I’m extremely thankful to be able to observe the Holy Days.

Todah YHWH!