One afternoon four years ago, my mom was sitting and playing with my daughters. My youngest daughter put a sticker on my mom’s shirt, directly over her heart.
“Ruby, why did you put a sticker there?” My mom asked.
“Grandma, because, G-d needs shade.” Ruby replied, tapping it.
Tomorrow, we will look up as the moon shades us from the sun. Amidst the political chaos and aftermath of savage terror attacks, we will turn and look up, pausing in wonderment and awe as daylight dims and the air cools.
We are in desperate need of shade: G-d’s shade from our man-made darkness.
The eclipse falls on the heels of this past week’s Torah portion, Parshat Re’eh. Re’eh is translated as, “see.” Moses addresses the children of Israel: “See, I place before you today a blessing and a curse.” (Deuteronomy 11:26)
It’s as though we remain before Moses, standing amidst the blessings and curses we’ve caused through our actions and our inactions. We will look to this eclipse as the children of Israel did and ask: Do we, as the human race, choose to see the consequences of our actions? Do we choose to see ourselves as we are and take responsibility for what lies before us?
Despite our polarizing beliefs, our hearts filled with confusion, anger and despair, we will pause and look up with humble, trembling eyes towards the heavens as G-d shades us.
We always have a choice, to see or to look away.
Do we choose to see the lesson the universe is offering to us? Darkness is temporary; the light is always there. The sun does not go anywhere; it is our perspective that the world has gone dark, but it is momentary and purposeful. The blessings and the curses are inevitable; they are the result of our existence. And, how we respond to these blessings and curses is the reason and purpose for our individual and collective existence.
The Jewish High Holy Days, the Days of Awe, of Teshuvah (repentance) are just weeks away. Teshuvah means, “to return.” We return to ourselves, turning inward and towards each other. We are given an opportunity to identify our sins, repent for them and ask for forgiveness.
The High Holy Days are an annual spiritual eclipse. G-d shades our humanness (which rivals the debilitating brightness of the sun) just enough so we may see ourselves as we are, accept the curses we’ve caused in ourselves and inflicted on others and ask for forgiveness.
We are in need of the shade of compassion from each other.
“The opposite of certainty is faith.” ~ Richard Rohr
We live in uncertain times. This is why we need faith, faith that there’s light even when it appears completely dark in this world. We create the light by shading each other in forgiveness and camaraderie. We are being given yet another chance to see that we have a choice to come together and heal the fractures in ourselves and in our communities.
Tomorrow, when I look up, I will be turning inward: How can I provide shade for others? How can I thwart the darkness with the light of compassionate action?
We are all waging the same battle within our hearts: the fear of what will be in this uncertainty, fraught with dire loneliness, and a bleeding desire to belong to something, to believe in something. So let’s do just that; let’s have faith in each other and in something greater than ourselves, something we can’t see from this vantage point on earth, but we have faith exists: that light that shines eternally, shading us and illuminating us in every moment of every day, even in the darkest times.
“The light of the moon shall be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold as the light of the seven days [of creation], on the day that G‑d will bind the fracture of His people, and the stroke of their wound He shall heal.” ~ Isaiah 30:26