Earth Etude for Elul 4 – Saying Farewell with Each Breath, Starting Anew

by Rabbi Judy Kummer~


Towards end of the day, towards summer’s end,

body and soul prepare for farewells.


Through piney woods I run,

gauntleted by trees whose dark limbs

reach up to breathe in fresh blue sky.

Dim path; the light can’t reach down here.

Ahead, the river winks at me.


I thread my way out the wooded tunnel’s end

and can feel the sky lift — and

my mind lifts too.

Before me lies

still water

meandering between wooded banks.

Turning, I race the river. Feet pound

on hard sand paths,

Pulse quickens in my ears,

breath pushes blood through my veins.

Crickets chirp their pulses in the long grass.

Feeling especially fleet of foot,

I dart between notes of birdsong.

My worries lag behind, can’t run as fast.


And then,

pleasure-filled, I pause at river’s bend

to glimpse reflected glory.


At golden hour


stillness in the air

almost a hush,

a waiting for day to end night to come.


Time feels burnished,

and the light — oh, the light is still golden,



Gild the clouds, light,

gild them colors of half the rainbow.

Mirror the light, river,

mirror the

awe-tinged clouds.


What a vision of beauty —

glory reflected in thinly silvered water.

I am filled up, full.


Brimming over

I turn back towards the start,

saying farewell with each breath,


ready to start anew.

Rabbi Judith Kummer is the Executive Director of the Jewish Chaplaincy Council of Massachusetts.  A Boston native, she earned a BA from Barnard College in Environmental Studies and Urban Planning and was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. Rabbi Kummer is an avid organic gardener, potter, hiker and social activist.

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