Monday, October 26, 2009

Leaves, Rain, Curtains and Prayers

We just got back from Syracuse yesterday -- on a pre-dawn flight. The kids and I went to bed at 1am and got up again at 4:30am -- or 1:30 am west coast time -- though Jon doesn't agree with me that that means we only had a half hour of sleep.

It rained much of the few days we were there for my nephew David's Bar Mitzvah, but I got to see the leaves changing! No jumping in them or raking up big crunchy piles, but lots of beautiful color. Beautiful gold, some orange, a little red creeping out. The reds weren't in full force yet -- we managed to arrive before the peak, which was fine. I was happy. I didn't even mind the rain and clouds. It's the feel of home. It wasn't sunny all the time when I lived there, after all. And I saw the trees changing their colors from the car window as we went back and forth to the temple.

I also appreciated our temple, Temple Concord, which is one of the oldest congregations in America, founded in 1839 and in this location for almost 100 years. Most other temples I've been in are new and modern, and never feel quite the same to me. Temple Concord is old and stately, with cream-colored pillars against light blue walls, and super high adorned ceilings. It also has, I remembered, many nooks and crannies, and rooms down all kinds of hallways, and layers of heavy curtains on the stage in the social hall, where I remembered hanging out in its dark folds with other teenagers during youth group meeting breaks.

The women's room off the big social hall I remembered was another favorite, with a lounge area and couch, and about 20 degrees hotter than the larger room. It was still a sauna. Toward the end of the party I went in there and found two 14-year-olds stretched out on the floor like they really were taking a sauna.

David did a great job at his Bar Mitzvah, and I felt the deep emotion of a centuries-old tradition. There is something about those traditions that is so deep and sometimes so unexpected for one who doesn't even belong to temple these days. When Aaron was 8 days old we held a bris, the Jewish circumcision ceremony, for him. It hit me way more powerfully than I'd expected. I felt in that quick, practiced moment of cutting, and the rabbi's prayers, and the friends and family gathered, the generations that had preceded us, the great history and belief that had guided us to that moment. It was visceral. My very body responded with blood and milk.

Every thing and its seasons.

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