Remodeling continues in the house in which I live. Amid the in and out of contractors and faithful volunteers, the house continues to transform into something new and wonderful. As I am excited about what can be, and what is happening in the house, I am also aware how temporary everything seems to me at this time. As I navigate through the house, I am aware that the utility room is different now because we are making room for something new. As I climb the stairs to the second floor bathroom, I am mindful that the bathroom downstairs – the one that has served me well over the past year is no longer the same. Walls have been torn out, the shower, sink, and toilet are no longer in its space, and for now this room is unusable. Regardless, I know that this is temporary for we are making room for something new. My spirit rejoices as I sit at the breakfast table and watch the sun rise in the eastern sky, filling my kitchen with morning light. I am able experience this because, the wall between the kitchen and the dining room has been removed, allowing the early morning light to flood the kitchen, reminding me that the skeleton of an open wall is just temporary and there will be something new; For even remodeled homes must make its journey through the dark places and valleys where there is neither beauty nor order. As for now, I know that what was, is no longer and what is to be is still unclear, but I know that my discomfort with the dust and disorder is only temporary for from the future comes something new.
As I write, our Jewish brothers and sisters are in the midst of the Festival of Sukkoth. Sukkoth, also known as the Festival of Booths or Tabernacle is that joyous time of year following the solemn Jewish holiday of Yon Kippur. Sukkoth comes at a time of year when the harvest is in, Yon Kippur prayers have been said, and hearts are filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for all that God has done for them. The word “Sukkot” means “booths,” and refers to the temporary dwellings that the Hebrew people were commanded to live in during their period of wandering in the wilderness – that time before the Hebrew people entered the Promised Land, the future that was promised to them as far back as Abraham and Sara. This joyous festival was more than celebrating the end of the solemn holiday of Yon Kippur or the in-gathering of the harvest, it was also a time to remember that the time in the wilderness, though painful, is temporary — temporary like the dust and disorder within the house in which I live. Out of the ruins, comes something new.
In many ways, both the unfinished house and the Festival of Booths – Sukkoth, reminds us that so much of life is temporary and seems to always be under construction. The story behind the Festival of Booths speaks to me in this time of transition. Just as the generation who doggedly persevered through the wilderness with Moses, so must we journey on together, confident that God is leading us to something new. One day the house will be finished, welcoming your spiritual leader and his/her family to your community. One day the temporal feeling of this interim time will break forth with a sense of hope and permanence. One day, the waters, dividing the Jordan River will wash back over the rocks of the past, closing one chapter and allowing this congregation to thrive and live life together in new a new land, in new ways. One day, we’ll look at this time as a period of tearing down old things and embracing something new. In the meantime, we must persevere for we are still traveling the wilderness, setting up a temporary dwelling place and looking forward to the new land! One day this time of impermanence will come to an end and O what a day of rejoicing that will be! In the meantime, we joyfully carry on amid the dust of the past as it slowly clears away.