Thursday, July 28, 2011

Choices Made

Yom chamishi, 26 Tamuz 5771.

“The end result of your life here on earth will always be the sum total of the choices you made while you were here.” ~ Dr. Shad Helmstetter
Since I didn't leave my chair, this is someone else's photo.

Last night, I sat with the Dearly Beloved on our patio, and watched the fog give us a peek-a-boo show of the stars, as angels sang.  I know -- you think I'm being poetic here -- but angels really were singing.  The young ladies in the landlord's house upstairs use their home for choir practice on Wednesday nights; and the girls are getting really good together!  We don't know how many voices are in this choir...  but they truly sound angelic, especially as their blended voices float down to us from above, keeping perfect time with the drifting clouds.  The wind was strong enough that I needed a blanket.  It was cool and perfect.

This morning, I am gazing in awe as the clouds above the Mediterranean Sea pile themselves up like distant mountains.  The coffee is good; the air is cool and slightly breezy.  Light plays on the fields beyond our small town.

Later today, it will get hot, of course.  The air will become still; and these lovely Jerusalem stone walls will absorb more and more heat, until the afternoon is unbearably sweltering somewhat challenging.

I grew up in small towns.  People knew each other well, borrowed easily from one another, watched each other's kids in the streets.

I always wanted to return to that life, to raise my kids with that simple lack of city sophistication.

This was not to be, as to be an observant Jew in America usually requires trappings found only in big cities.  I say "usually" because I have known rare individuals who had the learning and strength to bring their children up in the Torah in small towns in America.  But they all had "Rabbi" in front of their names.  I know we could not have done that.  We needed Jewish day schools and kosher butchers and lots of people who were "on the same page."  For the most part, that and small town life don't happen outside Israel.

Stunt Man
Even though this was my dream for the 16 formative years of my sons' lives, we couldn't make it happen.  And I have to trust that Hashem wanted my boys to get the life lessons they acquired in the mean streets of the city.  They grew tough fighting gangs who wanted to take their bikes, their money, their candy, and at one point, even a life.  (Thank G-d they were stopped by other good and decent city dwellers!)  My boys have a jadedness level of sophistication that wrestles with the insular Torah image I had set in my mind when we started this journey into religion.

Yeshiva Bochur
 But I trust in Hashem's wisdom; so I look for the good in what has transpired against my will.  My sons are strong and fierce warriors, which makes them good soldiers.  The Torah they learned teaches them justice tempered with sweetness.  They are exactly the sort that Israel needs defending her from destruction.  I long for the day when all of that worldliness is reserved only for the football field and computer games.  But in the meantime, I can see purpose to our lives spent in an American city.
Soldier Boy
Later today, I might hop a bus to the holiest City in the world to purchase a few items for Shabbat.  I might walk over to the makolet, our little "corner grocery" a few blocks away.  I'll joke with Shulamit about air conditioning as she smiles behind the cash register, telling us she's counting the hours until Shabbat.  Someone on the local "chat list" will ask for a cup of sugar, a baseball mitt for a small boy (his was left in a tremp, and we won't get it back for a few days), directions to Har Homa.  I'll race along with several other citizens of Cyberspace to try to be the first to help.  I'll listen to the kids playing in the streets; and when I pass them, a few of them will greet me first.  A couple of them will give me a message for "Coach."
Sports Guy
I'll go to work and kvetch about the heat.  I'll lament that I never get make time to clean my apartment.  I'll wish the bank balance had a little more muscle.  The news will bother me just as much as it bothers you.

And tonight, I'll sit on my patio in the open air, watching the clouds with my husband.

May we share good news, and happy times.  Come and visit.  There's room on the patio for more chairs.

This post produced and bottled by Eastman©, inspired by Treppenwitz.
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