Awakening to Simple Joys


My heart jumps as I hear a loud screech coming from the general direction where last I saw my 6-year-old.  It’s enough like a human cry that my mother instincts send me into motion before the more rational parts of my brain kick in.


By the time I get to the living room to see my son, red in the face, blowing into an animal horn, I have already remembered that I brought home the shofar and probably left it out on the table.


Now I’m somewhere between relief, annoyance, and pride, enduring the discomfort of the raw ancient call as I near my child practicing his shofar blasts way too early in the morning.  I stop myself from stopping him.  He needs the practice.  And I probably need to be more awake.

The month of Elul began this year on September 1st.  Elul, the moon-cycle preceding Rosh Hashanah, during which it is customary to hear the shofar blast every single day (except Shabbat).  By the time we get to the New Year, we have theoretically been in the process of awakening for quite a while, hitting snooze, as it were, on that shofar alarm clock, till finally on Rosh Hashanah we take in a full 100 blasts and find ourselves unable to slip back into our spiritual sleep.

What do you need to awaken to?  You know best.

For me, I feel already brutally awake to the dangers of our moment – the climate disaster unfolding in slow motion, the decay of Democracies world-wide, the revitalization of anti-Semitism.  Those alarms have been blasting for a few years running.  I don’t want to start ignoring them, but nor can I sustain a continual state of emergency.  The awakening I need right now is not about realizing our world is at risk.  That shofar blast I have already heard loud and clear.

This summer I experienced a different kind of awakening.  My husband had a health scare, and I had thankfully had already booked several weeks of rest at home. Our summer became a time to awaken to the simple blessings of home and family, wholesome food, reading books, and gardening.  So many mornings, lazy and slow, cuddling with my kids, I wished I could engrave the experience into my soul, knowing more than ever the preciousness of life, love, and health.

As the year begins to accelerate with school and the holiday season, I pray that I can stay awake to the small blessings that sustain me moment to moment.  Even as I hear the blasts calling me to transform the world and myself with every fiber of my being, I hope that I can also remember to stay awake and make time for the joy and delights which are what make that effort worthwhile.