Earth Etude for Elul 16 – Return to Our Pond

by Rabbi Dorit Edut

Frozen for months, life had chilled out for too long last winter. We began to wonder if a new Ice Age was coming more swiftly than predicted. Disaster was whispering in the wind from which we tried to hide all skin lest the frost take a bite. We stayed indoors and cancelled many a get-together because of the fierceness of this weather. On the pond in front of my daughter’s home, the white heron appeared once in March, as if sent by Noah, but all was solid ice.

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In early April evenings, the story of our Exodus from slavery to freedom was told and we began to feel again in our fingers, toes, and inner recesses the need to move forward, to act with the courage of our ancestors and confront our world.  This time the heron found a patch of water amidst the melting ice and he, too,  looked relieved.

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Spring rains brought flooding waters in some places but a rainbow of colorful flowers appeared then in June and July gardens– and we knew that our reprieve had been granted once again.  Geese and ducks glided by in the shaded waters of the pond, with newborns in tow.  We invited friends over to join in feasts of ripe cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, beans, corn, peaches, berries, all sprinkled with fragrant herbs from our abundant gardens.  The summer pleasures encourage healing and strengthening of bodies,  minds, and spirits until they have almost reached a stage of perfection.

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Yet then it is that we also start to turn towards fall, the time of our New Year, the ingathering of harvested crops and friends and new projects – for winter is sure to come again and no one knows how long it will last this time or who we will have become when the heron returns next spring.  We look now and see our reflections in the pond’s waters and  quietly pray with a full heart, saying thanks  for all this and asking or  hoping for more.

In the floating leaves which appear on the water’s surface, we are aware that another year has passed, and we have left much to be done to repair our world. Can we stave off winter? Perhaps not, but we may prevail over its excesses by the warmth of deeds of lovingkindness, reaching out to those who stand on  the shores of other ponds, big and small, where our  white heron Ehas also flown.

Rabbi Dorit Edut, after over 40 years as a Jewish educator in Metro Detroit, was ordained in 2006  at the Academy for Jewish Religion, a pluralistic Jewish seminary, in Riverdale, NY. After serving as a congregational rabbi and teaching, four years ago, Rabbi Edut brought together a diverse group of clergy and civic leaders in Detroit to find ways to help revitalize the city of Detroit with a focus on its youth, resulting in the Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network (DION) where religious and faith groups share their projects and gain support from this network. DION has  held as series of interfaith services and social/educational programs to spiritually uplift Detroit and has created programs for career exploration, conflict resolution, and arts and cultural awareness for youth  and families in Detroit.

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