02 September 2010

"Let My Heavenly Lostness Overwhelm Me"

23 Elul 5770

No longer so easily visible at night, the moon recedes into darkness, its veiled oblivion as the year draws to a close.  I went looking for it before bed, out walking with Nathan, but didn't find it.  A brief panic overcame me--what if there were no light?  The fear spread, the proposition too much to consider.  Darkness has its place for me but I need light spaces, light rooms, light walk-ways.

But it's the shade and the darkness that allows for reflection, is it not?  Shadows and diminished illumination evoke nature's and our own subtle realities that, certainly this time of year, require our attention.

A street lamp shone overhead as we walked the neighborhood, my dog and I, and we paused to consider a shadow cast on the pavement, the symmetrical design of a brownstone's front gate, spread across our path like a rug, slightly askew.  I wanted to bend down to straighten it out.

We bend to straighten shadows, cast by our own design, we sculptors of our year of living imperfection.

It's fitting that the New Year begins on a New Moon, also barely discernible and certainly no torch in the light for those who dread darkness.  Fitting that we call these the Days of Awe, because the darkness ought to overwhelm, humble, and re-establish an order to our lives.  And a beautiful orchestration, certainly, that when the moon is full, lighting the sky, we live outdoors in huts, on Sukkot, under a fragile roof which casts shadows, courtesy of that "Lesser Light" of the night sky.

In his 1936 collection, A Further Range, Robert Frost describes a walk at night beneath a canopy of open clouds, just after a stormy rain.
Lost in Heaven

The clouds, the source of rain, one stormy night
Offered an opening to the source of dew;
Which I accepted with impatient sight,
Looking for my old skymarks in the blue.

But stars were scarce in that part of the sky,
And no two were of the same constellation~
No one was bright enough to identify;
So 'twas with not ungrateful consternation,

Seeing myself well lost once more, I sighed,
"Where, where in Heaven am I?  But don't tell me!"
I warned the clouds, "by opening on me wide.
Let's let my heavenly lostness overwhelm me."
We sculptors of our year of living imperfection.  Let's let our heavenly lostness overwhelm us.  And in that humility, move to new light.

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