Did you ever do something that made your mom or dad sad with disappointment?
A confession, one I haven’t spoken about since I was 8 or so years old. My Dad was a generous man. He sent me on an errand with my cousin Sue to get something from the corner store, but lacking smaller change, gave me a $5 bill. This was the 1960’s, it was a fortune. Enough to buy that pretty, round faced doll. My cousin Sue encouraged me: “your Dad would want you to have it.” I hesitated, and then, wanting the beautiful doll badly, I just took out the $5 and bought it. When I returned carrying my prize, Dad’s sadness and disappointment stung. It was more effective than any smack or scolding. I have never forgotten it.
Rosh Hashanah is coming, the New Year, in 7 weeks, and we sing of God as a parent: Avinu Malkenu (Barbara Streisand at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YONAP39jVE ) And yet, 7 weeks before Rosh Hashanah, we weep on the ninth of Av for all the sad things in the world. We read of God’s sadness as a disappointed parent in the prophetic vision of Isaiah:
The visions of Isaiah son of Amoz: …
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth,
For the Lord has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up —
And they have rebelled against Me!…..
Cease to do evil;
Learn to do good.
I imagine God’s disappointment as a parent’s, when we do the wrong thing .
Flashback #2: Road Trip 1998: Disney world in November, and the middle one gets sick to her stomach. So I stay up all night with her. Well, she’d been having trouble adjusting to this new baby. She wants to be carried, to ride in the stroller like him. It’s been rough, but it softens her heart a bit that when things get really dicey, when she’s sick, her parents are still there for her. That’s what parents are for -to stay up when you’re sick, to carry you into the ER for stitches, out of the car, ’cause you’re sleeping, or just ’cause you’re lonely: I wore my kids, carrying them for years. From the Torah reading this week, a connection to the parenthood theme:
Deut. 1:31. In the desert, you saw that Adonai your God carried you along the road you traveled to this place, just as a man carries his child.
The best song about these words is http://www.mahtovu.com/mah_tovu/Turn_It.html The second song on Mah Tovu’s album Turn It.
How incredible to know that you’re held, and can hold. So as we approach the Ninth of Av, and Rosh Hashanah, parent-child connections give insights to both of these Holy days.
As we think of these images of parenthood and childhood, and weep for things lost, it seems to me urgent that we protect our children’s futures by ceasing evil and learning to do good by our planet. For the sake of holding our children, so they have a place to live in good health and to love, and to walk in fields and swim in waters and eat and drink. So Tuesday, the ninth of Av, I will sing this lament:
Eichah / Lament for the Earth: Tisha B’Av 2010
By Tamara Cohen (student at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.)
Eicha: Alas, she sits in danger.
Earth, home to multitudes,
like a beloved, deep in distress.
Blue ocean, source of life –
Endangered and imprisoned.
Bitterly she weeps in the night
Her shorelines wet with tears.
Of all her friends, none to comfort her;
All her allies have betrayed her.
flee their homes;
can find no rest.
Because our greed has heated Earth.
Whole communities destroyed
To pursue off-shore oil.
Lives and dreams have been narrowed.
Coastlines mourn for families,
lost homes and livelihoods.
Barrier islands lament, desolate.
Wetlands sigh without their song birds.
Estuaries grieve; the sea is embittered.
Earth’s children – now her enemies;
Despite destruction, we sleep at ease.
The Breath of Life grieves
our abundant transgressions.
Infants of every species,
captive to our conceit.
Hashivenu Yahh elecha v’nashuva, hadesh yameinu kekedem.
Let us return, help us repent,
You Who Breathe all Life;
Breathe us, Breathe us,
Breathe us into a new path–
Help us, Help us, ,
Help us Turn to a new way of living
Make–new, Make -new,
Our world of life intertwining –
Splendor, beauty, joy in our love for each life-form.
Protect this gift of creation! If we join together, spurred by visions of the children we were and those we carried, we can turn and re-turn this precious planet onto the right path.