Helen Hunt Jackson
Bending above the spicy woods which blaze,
Arch skies so blue they flash, and hold the sun
Immeasurably far; the waters run
Too slow, so freighted are the river-ways
With gold of elms and birches from the maze
Of forests. Chestnuts, clicking one by one,
Escape from satin burs; her fringes done,
The gentian spreads them out in sunny days,
And, like late revelers at dawn, the chance
Of one sweet, mad, last hour, all things assail,
And conquering, flush and spin; while, to enhance
The spell, by sunset door, wrapped in a veil
Of red and purple mists, the summer, pale,
Steals back alone for one more song and dance.
Helen Jackson’s poem serves to remind me how fortunate I feel to be a Jew! Just when nature’s cycle here in the Northern Hemisphere brings us shorter days, longer nights and the beginning of the hunkering down for what winter will inevitably bring, the Jewish calendar launches us boldly into a new year! And though Autumn is my favorite season, I simultaneously appreciate the new beginning that comes with a new Jewish year. The fall holy days come in such swift succession…Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah (like passing boxcars glimpsed at a railroad crossing)…that we experience a surfeit of spiritual high points. I’ve often wished these holy days were spaced a bit more evenly though the year that I might savor them more deeply in my anticipation of their arrival.
With respect to the secular calendar, Rosh Hashanah is “late” this year (though, in fact, it arrives right on time…on the 1st of Tishri!) This means that those of us privileged to celebrate the High Holy Days on Cape Cod may begin to see foliage beginning to turn, a harbinger of fall-in-earnest. We will balance an awareness of the season’s turning with an understanding that for us, the year is just beginning, ripe with potential for growth and change.
While I always relish the arrival of weather cool enough to justify wearing a flannel shirt, I look forward to the arrival of the Jewish year 5777 on the evening of October 2nd.
May the new year presage healthy change and development for us as individuals, for our community, our nation and our world. L’shanah tovah tikateyvu….may you be inscribed for a new year of health and contentment!