Monday, September 6, 2010
Wednesday night, I’ll take my place once again as a sojourner, a non-Jew standing in shul beside my partner Jonathan on the eve of Rosh HaShanah, the first night of the year 5771, the anniversary of Creation: the sanctified center around which the year revolves; the sanctified womb from which all that we make of our lives emerges; the still point to which we return to hear again the heartbeat of the cosmos in the sound of a ramshorn blown ceremonially into the silence.
I’m blessed to come to this tradition without the baggage that almost inevitably accompanies the negative associations of our early spiritual lives. From my place at the edge of the congregation, this is what blows me away, if you’ll pardon the pun, in hearing the excruciating bronze-age cry of the shofar: that time itself is holy. That we are accountable for what we make of it. That amidst its ever-rolling stream, change is a gift. That if we can only stretch so far, we can learn to see even our own mortality as an aspect of that gift. That, miraculously, we get more time, a second chance, when we need one. That the Mystery is infinitely larger than our souls, but that our souls, together with the souls of those we love and of those we mourn, are and will always remain a worthy part of that Mystery.
That every cry in the Middle East for peace, security, dignity and justice–from Muslim, Christian, and Jew alike--is the sound of the shofar.
That the cry of Matthew Shepard dying alone, tied to a fence in Wyoming, was the sound of the shofar.
That the cry of men in the shared ecstasy of their lovemaking is the sound of the shofar.
That the cry of an oil-soaked pelican in a marsh destroyed by the criminal greed, negligence, and stupidity of oil companies is the sound of the shofar.
That the shout of my late schizophrenic neighbour, “Kill the Fags!” when he was off his meds, and his apology when he was in remission, were the sound of the shofar.
That the laughter of children over a garden wall is the sound of the shofar.
And let us say, Amen.