Thursday, September 26, 2019

Truly Awesome!

foreground: Hubbard Glacier
I don't know when the word "awesome" became the new way to say "sounds good" but I've made it my personal crusade to use the word only when something truly is. The dictionary translates awesome as "extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring wonder and veneration somewhat mixed with fear...". Not the word I would use when someone says "I'll be over at 6:00" or "The supermarket's having a sale on cereal". But in just one week at the end of this past August, I must have used the word more times than in the entire past year. 

Mom wanted to go on a trip and asked me to accompany her. Mom wanted something "different". Switzerland? (She'd been there.) Grand Canyon? (Too hot.) And so, next thing we knew, we were on a (kosher) cruise - to Alaska! Never in my wildest dreams... 

A long way from my beloved holy Land but truly "inspiring wonder and veneration mixed with fear". No, I wasn't frightened by the mild seasickness I experienced in the first 24 hours but awed by He who created the magnificent mountains, waters and wildlife we saw on our trip and of what He expects from us in return for His awesome gifts. With ports of call in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchican and an afternoon spent observing the Hubbard Glacier calve its icebergs into the ocean, my feelings of awe were overwhelming. 

The last full day of our cruise was Shabbos - and the first day of the month of Elul. The view of the sunset
from the windows of the make-shift shul (synagogue) on the ship was the perfect backdrop for the services that ushered in the month most auspicious for closeness to our Creator. What a spectacular way to begin my preparations for the Days of (true) Awe ahead! 

And now they are upon us. So allow me to wish you and yours a happy, healthy, truly awesome Rosh Hashanah and new year. May all your prayers be answered with G-d's abundant and apparent blessings, miracles and wonders. And perhaps a truly awesome trip thrown in for good measure. 

What does all this have to do with Remembering Jerusalem? Well, I could stretch the topic to make the connection but I'll leave that to your imagination. Meanwhile, below, my Rosh Hashanah poem with, as always, a new stanza for the new year. Warmest regards from Bill, the rest of the gang...and Mom.

Rosh Hashanah 5780
We ponder again the year in review;
what was accomplished, what's still left to do. 
Looking back, we can count all the ways we've been blessed
and assess how we've scored on G-d's many tests.

So many should’ves and could’ves but didn’t. 
Surely I would’ve if my heart had been in it. 
No more excuses! Or at least not as many. 
Gotta work hard to make hardly any…

What have I learned in the year that has passed? 
That no two people will take the same path.
Be it highway or foot bridge, a road lies ahead. 
Walk yours with G-d, King Solomon said.
(I just noticed that the "paths" in the pic are shaped like a shofar!)

Our heartfelt prayers and beloved traditions
see us through challenges and transitions. 
From day to day, from year to year 
our faith and our trust calm every fear.

The years come and go in the circle game. 
Events ever-changing; the cycle, the same. 
Like wood being shaped by the artisan's lathe, 
we marvel at eych ha'galgal mistoveyv.

How do I even begin to say
thank You for all that You’ve sent our way?
For the obvious blessings; the hidden ones, too,
gently prodding me to reach out to You.

We'll begin a new calendar, start a clean slate,
fill it with good deeds and character traits;
with memorable moments and meaningful days, 
months full of emulating G-d’s holy ways.

We'll look for the signs that come from Above, 
signs of Hashem's unconditional love.
Signs of the times, signs of the seasons,
Time to make changes for all sorts of reasons.

Yomuledet Sameyach! Congratulations, dear Earth,
on the 5,780th year since your birth. 
What shall we wish you on your special day? 
Global peace. Gentle weather. Prosperity.

Each truly awesome piece of our planet
is the work of His hands so that we can man it. 
Inspiring wonder and veneration,
gifts to humanity, to every nation.

Soon the air will turn brisk; the foliage, bright.
First, the table we'll set and the candles we'll light.
The challahs are baked; the honey dish glistens.
The shofar will blow; to its call we will listen. 

Ripe pomegranates bursting with seeds
remind G-d of our merits, not our misdeeds.
The angels are ready to plead every case 
to the Almighty King Whose judgment we'll face.

May He grant us good health and joy that is true, 
contentment and nachas and simchas "by you". 
Let this be the year that He takes our hands 
and leads us back Home to our holy Land.
May we all exercise our right to return
to our Source, to our Land, to the lessons we learn
from our Torah, the treasure that keeps us alive
as we wait for Mashiach, soon to arrive.

Now we are ready, the holiday's here.
May it be the start of a wonderful year.
As we don our finest, it is so nice to know
that for Rosh HaShanah
 we're all Good to Go!