Earth Etude for Elul 28 – Spirals and Rings

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen


Days are like scrolls: Write on them what you want to be remembered. –Bahya ibn Pakuda


       A Torah scroll is a spiral, when stretched out it forms one continuous stretch of parchment. Its handwritten text is complex, not easy to decipher and commented on throughout its history by those who seek to understand and find wisdom.
Inside a tree, rings form one around the other, in concentric circles. They cannot be unraveled, but they, too, together form a complex text, telling the story of the life of the tree and its environs. One who understands about tree rings can learn much about the life of an individual tree by reading and studying its rings, if it has been felled by a saw.
Spirals. Concentric circles. We humans contain both. Our hearts and our souls and our bodies contain the stories of our life. Each life is hand- and soul-written, complex, difficult to understand.
Sometimes we seek to stretch out the spiral to be able to read our inner text. Sometimes we are felled by a painful event, and the rings inside us are exposed to the outer world, giving a view into who we are.
Our days are like scrolls. Our years are like tree rings. May we unroll them and open them up at this season, for our own introspection and learning, to help us learn to be better human beings.


Earth Etudes for Elul are a project of Ma’yan Tikvah – A Wellspring of Hope.

Rabbi Katy Allen is a board certified chaplain and serves as a Nature Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit. She is the founder and rabbi of Ma’yan Tikvah – A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long. She is the President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion


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