A Letter For Rosh Hashanah

October 1, 2016

Rosh Hashanah feels like it crept up on me this year, swirling in with the messiness of September and endless days of rain. It starts tomorrow night. Usually by this time, I will have stacked up a pile of holiday books, dug out our shofars, and have big bowls filled with apples as seasonal decor. But none of those things have happened yet, and they may not.
This time of year always involves intense juggling of schedules while attempting to craft together a rhythm that works for everyone. That intensity increased when we made the decision several years ago to become a family that lives in both the homeschool (Camille) world and the traditional school world (Noah). And for some reason this year feels even more overwhelming. I have been puzzled by that feeling because although both kids have fairly busy schedules, we have actually cut back on their after-school activities and I have been diligent about trying to take of myself with daily yoga/meditation and regular yoga classes. I think that feeling of unease is related to a larger sense of uncertainty hovering in my conscious and unconscious mind. 

We are entering our final year in the DC area and that always brings with it a slew of mixed feelings and preparatory anxiety. We have lived here longer than anywhere else in our history as a military family, so the roots are a bit deeper and twistier, and digging them up will be painful. We are also facing a move back to Japan with much older children and a crazy muppet of a dog. There are more emotional, physical, and logistical details than in our previous international moves. But I in addition to those moving-related worries, I am feeling a deeper sense of concern about the current state of our world...wars that never seem to end; racism that seeps, stings, and slays; the upcoming election; illnesses that attack with a vengeance; natural disasters that change lives overnight; and disconnection, apathy, and insularity. 

Needless to say, I haven't been sleeping well or living with a light heart lately. And that's exactly why Brain Picking's feature about E.B. White's letter came at just the right moment this week. E.B. White is one of my favorite writers and this letter of his is something I want carry with me right now. Perhaps something everyone should be carrying with them right now. I am tucking it into my pocket as we prepare to enter into this contemplative period of the Jewish High Holy Days. Wind the clock, sprout seeds of goodness, and maintain hope for a sweet new year. L'shanah Tovah! 

Dear Mr. Nadeau:
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
E. B. White

Williamsburg, Virginia, September 2016

Emily M. said...

Love the EB White letter, Lucia. I find his words comforting both in their wisdom, and because of their place in history. 1973 was a (small) while ago---hoping that the world is no more of a mess now than it ever has been, though it doesn't feel that way at the moment.

When I think about the possibility of moving overseas again, now with much older children, it makes me incredibly anxious. It would be hard in such different ways. But you know what? I would do it in a heartbeat, should the chance arise (unlikely).
I look forward to following along on the adventures this next chapter will bring, and hope that at least some of your worry will ease before too long.

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