The day after Tisha B’Av, I walked into a local arts n’ crafts store. With the hot temperatures and blazing sun, it was unfathomable to me that skeletons and pumpkins met me at the entrance of the store. Aren’t we technically still in the middle of summer? Displayed ghosts, witches and cauldrons more than suggested that October was here, and costume season had begun. Shaking my head, I thought, “Thank God for the Jewish calendar.”
The Jewish calendar isn’t owned by Hallmark. Meaning, each commemoration feels appropriately embraced by days of preparation, focused learning, celebration and often, eating. For example, Tisha B’Av is preceded by three weeks of mourning and follows with seven weeks of consolation. We spend the entire month of Elul contemplating the impending High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Before the advent of the new month, on the Shabbat prior, we bless its arrival and pray for health and life. The calendar insists: Stop rushing towards the holiday three months ahead. Stop rushing altogether. Slow down and thank God for the time we have…right now.
I recently celebrated my 38th birthday. Usually, birthdays invoke within me a panicked realization of what I still want to do, what I have yet to accomplish, which goals are left undone. But this year feels different. I woke up on my birthday, took a deep a breath and smiled. Smiling not just because my husband put a steaming hot cup of coffee next to the bed. Smiling because my heart burst with gratitude for this sacred time. This day. This moment. The abilities to wake up, breathe, give thanks, and lead a purposeful life.
Zeh Hayom Asah Adonai. This is the day God has made, let us celebrate and rejoice in it. In other words, the Psalmist is asking us to stop rushing through life. Whether or not the stores insist we celebrate holidays three months prior…our tradition urges us to take a deep breath…and slow down.
To feel the gift of this very moment.