expose our impermanence
come home to presence
Asked about the One Republic song Run, Ryan Tedder, the band’s lead singer, explained that the song is about how we must tune out the “doom and gloom” news, and the people who want to tell us how we should do things:
Don’t listen to anybody else. Have fun while you’re doing it because if you’re chasing stuff that is not fun, it is not sustainable. Do what makes you happy, tell everybody else to shut up. Turn the news off, get off socials, whatever is making you upset or depressed. All that nonsense is just going to slow you down. Life is short, live it while you’re alive. We’re not promised another day. Run.
Life is short. Live it while you’re alive. We’re not promised another day.
A perfect reminder for our times, as if I needed more.
This is the time of year when those reminders appear in every facet of my experience.
We are in the liminal space.
The seasonal transition. Technically still summer, but the bite in the air and the rustle of the trees tells me it’s fall. Days are getting shorter, faster. The sun is at a lower angle in the sky.
Back to school season. Kids are going back to school. Many people I know are going back to the office. Kids and adults alike grieve another summer fading into memory. Back to real life.
Virgo season. Virgo is a mutable earth sign; a sign that speaks to shifting ground beneath our feet — an uprooting of our stability as we navigate change. In the United States, this is the season of wildfires, hurricanes, and floods — the natural disasters that disrupt the earth. The ground literally shifts beneath us, destroying homes and lives, displacing families.
Metal season. In the Chinese element wheel, we are moving from late summer, the season of earth, to autumn, the season of metal. Autumn is the season of judgement and grief. The season of the lungs. (Much more to say here, about how this all aligns, but that’s for another time).
And it is the season of the Jewish High Holy Days, the Days of Awe.
In the Jewish calendar, this is the most important time of the year. We are currently in the 10 day period from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur. It is a time of intense reflection and introspection, when we account for how we’ve spent our time and when our fate for the year ahead hangs in the balance.
Rosh Hashana signals our attention with the sound of the shofar, a rams horn infused with the breath.
The sound of the shofar is a clarion call that begs us to wake up from our life of habits and automaticity.
As I watched 9/11 memorials yesterday, it occurred to me that the sounds of the shofar are similar to many of the sounds we hear in our rememberances.
- a crisp bell that creates silence and brings our awareness to the present moment
- the soft sobs of grief
- the cry of anguish — a cry of one who is in so much despair that they have no words.
The sound heard 20 years ago as we watched people leap to their deaths and run for their lives.
The shofar wakes us from the illusion that there is a perfect plan or a certain amount of work we can do to avoid uncertainty.
No matter how much we plan and prepare, we don’t know what’s coming.
At one of the dramatic high points of the Rosh Hashana service we ask:
who will live and who will die;
who in his due time and who before;
who by water and who by fire;
who by sword and who by beast;
who of hunger and who of thirst;
who by earthquake and who by plague;
who by strangling and who by stoning;
In my childhood and even my teen years these scenarios seemed removed from reality; hyperbole added to the liturgy to infuse the service with drama.
Over the past 2 decades, those words have gained new meaning for me. I realize how real it is. 9/11. COVID. Fires, floods, and other extreme weather. Acts of domestic terror and freak accidents.
The ground is always moving under our feet. Perhaps that is by design: to keep us moving forward, no matter what.
This is the reminder of this season. Leaves are falling. Days are getting shorter. And the siren song of the shofar wakes us to the reality that we don’t know what’s coming.
The shofar calls us to return home to ourselves, to our truth, and to what matters most to our hearts.
Life is short, live it while you’re alive. We’re not promised another day.