Are you listening... to the teaching of a winter sukkah?

13 Tevet- on the eve of the full moon...

by Rabbi Daria

I hope you have been dry and warm enough these past couple of days. Weather like this certainly reminds me of my fragility and vulnerability. Tree branches falling, the backyard accumulating lots of rain, a power outage, leading to the sump pump stopping and water accumulating in the basement and threatening to flood out the things we store therewhere we have things stored, trying to work on this message (and many other things!), filling and hauling sandbags, and rain coming... and coming... and coming... It certainly lets us all know how much we depend on things being "just so" and working right. And this coming after I mysteriously lost my voice and it finally returned after a week of not being able to connect to my heart and others through my regular avenues of speech and song.

Although the holiday of Sukkot is several months behind us, one of the powerful teachings of the sukkah is the reminder that we always dwell in a fragile structure, not just during the one week fall holiday that some of us mark, and others don't. However, when things are working out well, and the weather -and our health and relationships!- are cooperating, we often forget this and start to believe that we do actually dwell in the kind of building that the 3 little pigs eventually created: a sturdy little brick home.

And then life happens. One way or another things shift, in dramatic or subtle ways. We are reminded that all we know is actually impermanent, and that we are living in a fragile frame of a home, open to the elements- the rain, the wind, the earth. We do not control the elements, weather we have electricity and running water, or weather we are getting flooded out. We are here in this magical, wondrous, and sometimes painful life. And in our being here, we are part of something larger.

Just as the roof of the sukkah is to be open so that we can see the stars at night and remember that we are part of that "something so much larger," when we let go of trying to control what we cannot in fact control, we can also sink into that reality of wholeness and connection. It's not the river's fault that we're attached to a particular home that was built in a particular way or particular location. It's not electricity's or the earth's fault that we put our belongings in these homes and that we want to be able to have particular experiences: hot, running water, electricity for light and work, dry spaces and warmth.

We are here. We are part of a whole. The oneness can be powerful, and frightening because it forces us to let go of "me" and "my desires" and "my preferences," even for such basic needs and desires as life.

What do I have to hold onto then? The most basic prayer and teaching from the Torah, the one that asks me, "Are you listening? Do you really hear? Have you noticed that we are not separate?" the Shema.

Shma Yisrael- Listen all you who are struggling to understand your place in this world...

Y-H-V-H Eloheynu- The laws of the natural world actually are so very much more powerful than us. They provide the structure within which we live, and they are a key aspect of Eternal Being-ness.

Y-H-V-H Echad- It is Eternal Beingness that is the all encompassing container within which we find ourselves, and which unites and holds all of existence. It is more ancient than we can imagine, and will last far beyond our lifetimes, into eternity. So stop struggling and grasping, and relax into Her hold, for you are part of Her, she is part of you, and all is One.


Unconditional Friendship

6 Kislev 5777

Do you share a relationship of unconditional friendship with someone? I felt that from a good family friend, Martha Fielding, who recently passed away.  Want to know more? Fortunately, before her death a video was made of Martha in her amazing garden in Taos, NM, which was aptly named "Martha's Magic Garden." Her teachings in it are clear and powerful.

If you just have time for a short teaching from Martha at this time, below is a quote from an email exchange with another friend of hers that cuts to the essence:

"So this is change. Bitterness and regret are misplaced. What can allow us to become agents of change is to awaken. If we begin to make better choices, based on considerable reflection of what constitutes commons, and what sustainability really means, we gain a sense of delight and serenity, we feel connected to something that is beyond our selves and that offers us a way to comport our finite-infinite, miniscule-enormous human life to reflect and honor all that is, has been, and will be.

Thank you, Martha, for all that you have given to so many, and all that you continue to give.

May Martha and her memory inspire each of us to lead lives of connection to something beyond our selves, and lives of deep, unconditional friendship.  Amen.

pict of martha.jpg