On the Outside Looking In

I’ve been having a weekly coffee date these days, every Wednesday. I bring my mask and a cup. My dates, two 2nd graders, bring the content.

The idea was born from a daily prayer experience they are slated to have with their school. While I appreciate the efforts of stellar educators, I also want my daughter, and her friends, to learn to talk to G/d without the constraints of a prayer book. So just as we meander around the neighborhood, with no apparent destination, we also meander in our thoughts. Topics we have landed on have included how it’s like we play on the same team with G/d – sometimes we’re mad at our teammates but we’re always on the same squad – and how when we argue, how can we do it with G/d in the room? These girls are my rabbis.

Today’s topic was the impending holiday of Sukkot. My wise child, whose head wasn’t clouded with presidential debates and sadness for our democracy, started in the land of the literal. We build a sukkah because we used to need a place to stay! Duh, Mom.

But when we collectively dug a bit deeper, I came away with the notion that Sukkot is the Covid holiday we have been waiting for.

Over the past months, I have been thirsty to run away. I have craved the chance to shut the front door of my home behind me, along with the stress of at-home work, the peer pressures to make the most of this time, the tension of questioning what lies beyond my property line. I have dreamed of where I might go in a different world, have craved seeing the clouds below me as a I flew off to a wedding that never was or a holiday with those I love. And here comes Sukkot, asking us to GO.

But the uniqueness of the holiday is that our exit from home doesn’t take us very far. We leave the sourdough starters and headlines and virtual learning indoors, and we try to gain a little perspective.

I miss the Sukkot guests I won’t be inviting this year, but I am extra grateful I have people in my life worth missing. My daughter shared that it’s nice to be outside and remember all the hikes and outdoor adventures we’ve had these past months, ones we would never have embarked upon without this pandemic. I feel thankful that while I some days may feel trapped at home, I am so lucky to hug my children without thinking, give my husband a kiss without a mask on, have no distance in the holy space we call home. The sukkah offers gratitude, perspective, and just the little distance we need to help us hit the reset button and go back inside once again.

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