Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Earth Etude for 2 Elul

Teshuvah/return: the still small voice

What does it mean to return? Elijah the prophet, angered at the intransigence of the Jewish people, returns to the desert to complain to G!d. How can I be a prophet when my people won’t listen? The desert is sagebrush, stillness, silence. Then the whirlwind descends: a stinging of sand and dust. G!d, says the angel to Elijah, will not be in the whirlwind. G!d will be after, in the still small voice. When the dust clears, the landscape is different; the light is the amber and rose of sunrise.

After the whirlwind Irene has left, the neighbors gather in our front yard. A linden tree has fallen, shallow roots hemmed in too far by sidewalk to buttress it for the storm. We are vulnerable; we are alive. We offer each other, in still small voices, matches, ice, the majesty of trees.

In Elul, I, angered at my own intransigence, return to the desert to complain to G!d. How can I become good when I won’t even listen to myself? The whirlwind of guilt descends. G!d, says the angel patiently to me, will not be in the whirlwind. G!d will be after, in the still small voice. After Irene, my sister and I walk to Malibu beach. The tide is out; the water quiet. The marsh grass, waving, is starting to brown for winter. Teshuvah, says Rabbi Victor, was created before humans, because G!d knew we would have need of return. I remember that I am human. The great blue heron wades in the water, fishing and grooming his feathers, then standing very small and still.

Lisa J. Greber is nature chaplain intern at Ma'yan Tikvah.

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