Earth Etude for 18 Elul
A Broken Sewer Pipe
by Maxine Lyons
One might inquire– How can a broken sewer pipe help elicit responses relevant to Rosh Hashana holiday themes?
When our sewer pipe broke under our home directly affecting our front gardens and lawn, and a crew came in to excavate nine feet down to access it and repair it, fillers from the earth's bowel began to surface – tons of rubble, debris, clay, stones and brick. I felt incredulous, How can this be happening as we were adding final touches to our lawns and gardens in our front yard and simultaneously renovating our large back yard lawn all in time for my son’s wedding celebration with our local Boston family and friends in two weeks! What bad timing at a great cost and unnecessary distraction from the important issues of a wedding.
After the initial shock and disgust with the torn up yard and the putrid waste, I started to reflect on this milestone event. How can I regain my focus on this marriage as I leaned over on bended knees removing the runaway stones and clay pieces in my garden? I soon noticed that the ground could rejuvenate quickly once I cleared the debris, added new loam and nutrients and marveled at how forgiving the earth could be. The reality became less serious despite the large output of money and time. I found several young men to assist me in the digging, removing debris and replanting, and saw that they were taking some delight in helping in the landscaping–and the turns started to occur.
Slowly I felt some changes within myself, the recognition of the parallel spiritual regenerative energies happening so that by adding enriching soils, grass seeds, and colorful flowers, these beautifications corresponded to the inner cleansing and nourishment that I also needed to ensure my own new growth. I imagined the wedding festivities and the goals of marriage alongside the spiritual work I needed for my Teshuvah work for the high holidays.
Songs began resonating in my head — “return again, return to the land of your soul” and with many turns of the soil came an awareness of turning to new and more lofty thoughts, those small discoveries which are the guideposts along the way for doing the more serious work of spiritual renewal. Each turn offered a new perspective as I continued to re-landscape my garden and re-seed my spiritual thoughts for the new year. Teshuvah for me means accepting life’s many challenges as a way of “turning” toward the positive and relinquishing the negative habits and behaviors. I welcomed the turn toward a more elevated place in which I could form my prayers, giving new shape to my hopes and dreams for a more loving, caring attitude toward the earth, toward myself and others, and toward holiness and the meanings of my son's upcoming marriage.
Finally I read a Marcia Falk poem — Be who you are and may you be blessed in all that you are and felt the warm flow of resolution and repose. The earths’ turning and the turning of my internal process were in synch. I could participate in this much anticipated wedding event with smiles.
Maxine Lyons, retired community educator, is currently CMM (Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries) board member and co-facilitator of CMM's RUAH Spirituality Programs, co-leader of Discovering Balance Programs through Discovering What's Next (revitalizing the next life phase for "seasoned citizens"), international folk dancer, member of Temple Beth Zion, Brookline, joyful wife of 34 years and mother of two accomplished and wonderful thirty somethings.