The Closing Rituals of Summer

We did it, we celebrated summer, in spite of it all.  We fulfilled the ritual, as we had to; the body needs its sense of itself, to immerse in water and shifting light and in joy.  It needs to entertain its thought experiments — what if we don’t worry? – by digging toes into wet sand and by scaling mountain peaks.  It needs to create stage sets where it can play, live and come to deeply believe in the “here and now,” not as decoration but in all its vibrant seriousness. 

The summer, that defiant romp against despair, is closing with the opening of a book.  I’m not thinking about September teaching or classes, though that’s happening around me, but about Rosh Hashanah.  As a bookish kid, I was always delighted that the Jewish Holidays included God cracking open his BRook — it was the book that mattered.

In that Book of Life names are written, then sealed. The concept carries serious weight, but this year I’m giving it a different spin.  The turning that we do, teshuvah, turning over a new leaf, returning to true and better selves is like turning or stitching of material that poets indulge in.  We thread one thing against and into another. Bursts of strong emotion or image might end a line to be met with contradiction on the next.  All paradox, all voices welcome!  I can understand our contemporary turbulence as voices breaking in on each other.  Beauty is stitched with grief, and against the tragic bursts the intimate.  Dark absurdity is patched with innocence. And personal failings open onto something bigger, a collective standing together.  That stitching, that turning to the whole is the next ritual I’m falling into. 

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