Earth Etude for 25 Elul
Rocks in my Life
by Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein
They say that Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the world. It is an opportunity filled with new beginnings. Everything seems fresh and new. So much more so out in G-d's glorious creation, singing psalms that express that majesty. Many Rosh Hashanah mornings have found me at Plum Island before sunrise or a Walden Pond trying to figure out in Thoreau's words, "I went to the woods to learn to live deliberately"
They say that G=d is a Rock, capital R, Adonai Tzuri, G-d is My Rock. When I was first learning Hebrew this was the only word I knew for rock or stone. The Israelis laughed when I tried to use it to describe the beautiful Jerusalem stone. Tzur is only for G-d, they told me. But sometimes people get closer to G-d sitting on rocks. Jacob uses a stone for a pillow, had a dream and woke up saying, "G-d was in this place and I knew it not."
Recently I was sitting on the rocks on the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, ME. In Maine they even have an expression for this. The original tourists, rusticators, those summer people who came to places like Ogunqiuit and Bar Harbor by steamer, stage coach or train, would sit on the rocks for hours just looking at the ocean, thinking or painting. They called it rocking. As I sat there I was thinking of all the times I have sat there. Many major life decisions have been made sitting on those very rocks. My husband and I decided to have a child sitting there on a cold February morning. One April I rocked to decide whether I could finish rabbinical school, despite some overwhelming obstacles. One July I rocked and debated whether to accept a position as an educational director after ordination. More recently I returned to Ogunquit for my birthday all by myself to walk the beach and the Marginal Way, to sit on those rocks and to figure out what my vision of the rabbinate is. I completed my application for Congregation Kneseth Israel in my hotel room that night. I was impressed with their vision process. It seemed to mirror mine.
Now I am leaving those rocks. I will become the rabbi of Congregation Kneseth Israel in Elgin, Illinois. My last trip to Ogunquit, was a bright, sunny day. The ocean was a deep blue against the sky. It was breathtaking. When I stepped out of the car, I said to myself, "how can I leave this place?" I even called my daughter then in New York and said I couldn't leave. Then I sat there. I realized that those rocks will be there.They are eternal. I can return to them. Again and again. The high holiday liturgy says that we can return. Sitting on those rocks helps me prepare. Sitting on those rocks is a real concrete (pun intended) form of teshuva, return. To the Rock. To the rocks. To sit and meditate again. They say that Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the world. Now where is that more apparent than where the rocks and the water meet. May we all return.
Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein is the rabbi of Congregation Kneseth Israel in Elgin IL. www.ckielgin.org. She blogs as the Energizer Rabbi at http://www.theenergizerrabbi.org/. While in Massachusetts she honed her love of water at Mayyim Hayyim where she served as a mikveh guide and educator. Shabbat afternoons will find her out in nature or at a beach somewhere walking.