September fills our ears with a lot of mixed messages.
The month gives us an elbow to the ribs, jarring us from summer daydreams. We set our alarms clocks early, school buses and congested commutes awaiting. We grow hopeful and hungry, visions of professional and personal glory dancing in our heads. We form committees. We wear khakis. We get going getting going.
At the same time, these days invite us to put down our laptops and walk the trails, nourished by bright, blue skies, light, dancing winds, and crisp, orchard fruit. Nature gives a great, glorious sigh in September. We find thick, steamy summer now cool and collected, a frat party turned poetry reading, a mosh pit now two-stepping, the perfect cadence to our summer adventures.
In the High Holiday liturgy, we read these words:
The great shofar will be sounded and a still, small voice will be heard.
How is this possible? How can we hear both the great shofar and the still, small voice?
The shofar, after all, doesn't collaborate. It's not an ensemble instrument. The shofar demands single-pointed attention. It jolts our nerves and rattles our bones. We quickly wipe the grime from our eyes and, dazed and confused, mumble, "Okay, okay, we're up."
The still, small voice, on the other hand, waits with infinite patience. We have to coax it from the wild, by sitting still and quiet. We can't force inspiration. We can't demand wisdom. We can't bully the Creator into giving us that treasured sense of peace of mind and fullness of heart. No, the still, small voice whispers when we relax, surrendering our agendas with a smile.
September delivers us the great shofar and the still, small voice. The Creator asks us to hear both. I believe in our capacity to make this work, as inconceivable as that sounds. I believe in our ability to bang out email after email and then stroll outside to sit barefoot in the shade. I know we human beings can spend a sweet Sunday afternoon in the sun and follow it with an early bedtime and an even earlier rise.
September will feel like a mess; it always does. Let's make it a glorious mess, a loopy Rube Goldberg invention transporting us from last-dash August heat to October frost. Every note of this September symphony matters. May we find our capacity to listen.
!לשנה טובה ומתוקה - L'Shana Tova U'Metuka!
Have a sweet and joyful year to come!