Monday, September 5, 2022

Earth Etude. for Elul 10 - We're in This Together

by Rabbi Marisa Elana James

I’m lying on my back in the grass, watching the sky in late summer and the swallows and bats skittering across the sky. There are only a few clouds, stretching out thinly as the winds drag them by. 

Maybe you’ve experienced the moment that I sometimes do, back pressed to the earth, suddenly feeling that I’m getting a taste of the planet’s perspective, that the clouds aren’t moving at all, but instead I’m the one slowly rotating on my axis and spinning in space. The clouds stand still, while I roll backwards into the universe, dizziness setting in as this new orientation disorients me.

Some moments that make us feel small and insignificant are terrifying. This is the opposite. To feel not only how tiny I am, but also how tiny the Earth is in the vastness of the universe, can be glorious, soul-expanding, joyful. 

In these moments, so deeply connected to this sweet little planet, I feel most strongly how much we’re in this together. The earth and I are partners in keeping each other alive and healthy and growing. The earth and I, back to back as we face serious challenges, holding each other as we spin together into the future. 

Rabbi Marisa Elana James is Director of Social Justice Programming at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. A graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, she was previously a college English teacher, competitive ballroom dancer, insurance broker, student pilot, bookstore manager, and professional Torah reader. Marisa and her wife, contrabassoonist and translator Barbara Ann Schmutzler, live in New York City.

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