Friday, September 18, 2009

A Rosh Hashanah Message

“As clay in the hands of the potter…so are we in Your hand.”

This 12th century poetic composition and healing prayer, based on Jeremiah 18:3-6 and included in the Yom Kippur liturgy, perfectly encapsulates how so many feel right now, whatever our theological inclinations. I was also thinking of this verse in the context of this week’s passing of the actor Patrick Swayze, and one of the scenes for which he was best known, where his ghostly essence stands behind his loved one at a potter’s wheel.

The relationship between an artist and her work of art is one of great intimacy, nurturing and healing, as we strive, through that relationship, to overcome natural flaws and aim toward perfection. Our divine potential is reached only when the raw material of life is somehow molded, through love, through touch. The material is malleable. We haven’t hardened yet, but we all seek that love to guide us, to mold us, so that we’ll become the people we so want to be.

At times as vulnerable as these, we’re all looking to be held. Most often, we experience that loving touch of God through the hand of another human being. We are so limited, and the future seems so uncertain. Only that love can help us to overcome our mortality and our frailties. Only that love can heal us.

We are in Your hand this week as the new year begins. “Your” hand – means everyone who extends a hand, everyone who reaches out one to the other (with or without Purell). “Your hand,” means filling bags of food for Person to Person, since the need is greater than ever. It means standing up against Iranian oppression at the UN next week. And it means praying all together here, or wherever you will happen to be.

To our college students and others who will not be here, you are in our hearts. To all those who will be with us, we’ll be the richer for it. At times as uncertain as these, all hands need to be on deck.

And that includes Your hands - God’s hands.

L’shanah tova u’metukah.

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