הַחֹ֧דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֛ה לָכֶ֖ם רֹ֣אשׁ חֳדָשִׁ֑ים רִאשׁ֥וֹן הוּא֙ לָכֶ֔ם לְחָדְשֵׁ֖י הַשָּׁנָֽה׃
This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you.
Seasons are very different in each of the places I have lived. In South Texas, a short spring quickly stretches into a long, hot, heavy summer, followed by a pleasant fall and mild winter. (more…)
In addition to affirming the goodness of seasonal rhythms, the Bible also affirms the seasonal rhythms of human life, as in the well known section of Kohelet / Ecclesiastes:
There is a season for everything, and a time for every desired purpose under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3 לַכֹּ֖ל זְמָ֑ן וְעֵ֥ת לְכָל־חֵ֖פֶץ תַּ֥חַת הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃
I love watching the interplay of light filtered through green leaves onto water, the sparkling diamonds of light on the gurgling stream. Light can only be appreciated as it balances and plays with darkness, with shadow.Our lives, too, have periods of light and dark. We go through dark moods of sadness, the valleys of the shadow (Psalm 23), the dark night of the soul.
Something about the atmosphere in Jerusalem makes me feel like my feet aren’t quite touching the ground, even when my sandals are covered with dust. If people are not looking I find it hard to resist the desire to take off with a few dancing steps. Maybe it’s the constant scent of pine trees, or the mountain air “clear as wine.” Perhaps it is the beauty of light dancing on stones or shimmering on olive bark.
I was off from my own congregation the week after the Holidays and prayed at a lovely Reform temple in the Berkshires. Despite enjoying my break, I felt burdened by a loss of hope around the violent situation in Israel. As I prayed the Amidah, the standing prayer, my eyes lit on a footnote with a message from the beyond:
Sunrise Rainbows in Kailua
I awoke in Kailua, the Island of Oahu, Hawaii, to a chorus of tropical birds singing loudly and melodiously, and distant waves in the background. The scent of plumeria and the local varieties of jasmine and gardenia continually perfumed the air. I made my way to the upper deck of the house where we were staying and watched the sunrise over the Pacific to the east: first a glowing purple horizon, then gray clouds tinting pink, finally a giant ball of orange fire lifting into the heavens.
Picture the splitting of the Reed (or Red) Sea. Based on the movie versions, we tend to visualize Moses raising his staff, so that the waters part instantly—supernatural special effects! But the Torah (Exodus 14:21), offers a more naturalistic depiction of the miracle, one that involves wind: (more…)
There is an old parable about two seas in Israel, one fresh and one very salty.
I am captivated by the reflections of sky in a lake,* especially when sky and water seem to merge. On a spiritual level, it reminds me that in each of our souls is a reflection of the divine, the tzelem Elohim. We can perceive the reflection of what is “above” most easily when our consciousness is calm and clear, a state nurtured by regular prayer, meditation, and spiritual practice.
Enjoy these lake reflections from Wellspring on Instagram. (Plus one from a friend who is a Pastor in California.) Sometimes it’s hard to tell water from sky! I suggested pausing to contemplate each picture for a few moments of “reflection.”
Learn how Torah can be like Coral.
*I’m including lakes in this Gateway of the Sea, because in biblical Hebrew a “sea” can also mean a freshwater lake.