Waiting

Waiting is the hardest part!

I have never dealt with a hurricane so personally before, but waiting is excruciating. We are safe , thank God, in Connecticut because our children and others prevailed on us to postpone our journey to Sanibel until the storm passes, and the island is safe.

In checking with members of my new congregation most of them are safely elsewhere. Many have tales of what Charley did in 2004. Moods range from resigned and anxious to hopeful and upbeat.

I learn a lot from them!

TV reports are increasingly ominous. Fort Myers’ streets are deserted. The trees are swaying, and the waves are high. In Naples wind and rain are increasing rapidly. Similar reports come from Sanibel. It seems like a prelude to a frightening drama called:

STORM SURGE

A week ago that term was not even part of my vocabulary. Now I wait for it to unfold, and waiting is the hardest part.

Ecclesiastes teaches: לכל זמן ועת  L’chol zman et! “To everything there is a time. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

We were all psyched, almost packed and ready to move to the house in Sanibel that will be our home until May. I am eager to settle in, meet members of my new congregation, prepare for and welcome the New Year with them.

But now is the time to wait and to pray.

And waiting is the hardest part.

The Zookeeper’s Wife

I have a new favorite movie.

I don’t go to movies much, but Vickie urged me to see the Zookeeper’s Wife that she saw on a plane to San Francisco. On the way home I watched it too.

IT IS SO POWERFUL!

It is about Antonina and Jan Zabinski who ran the zoo in Warsaw when the Nazi’s invaded Poland.

It is a beautifully told story about how this heroic couple saved 3000 Jews from the jaws of Nazi savagery.

The movie is “based on a true story.” I will research the details to sort reality from fiction, but I know there is enough truth in the story the movie depicts that the State of Israel has recognized the Zabinskis as “Righteous Among the Gentiles,” the highest honor the nation can bestow on non Jews for heroic feats of saving Jews during World War II.

The Holocaust testifies to the depths of bestiality to which human beings can descend. But stories like this testify to the heights of heroism to which we can aspire and attain.

The words of Psalm 8 come rushing to my mind.

“What is humanity that You are mindful of them … For You have made them little lower than the angels and have crowned them with honor and glory.” (Psalms 8:6)

Each of us has the potential to attain such a crown, but sometimes it takes courage that nearly defies the imagination to wear it.

In this month of Elul that leads up the sacred season of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur our tradition urges each of us to seek the angel that resides in our soul. This month, more than any other, calls us to reach for and grasp hold of our best selves.

I don’t go to movies much, but I will watch this one again hoping it will help me to reach higher than I have to enhance the “Divine Image” (Genesis 1:26-28) in which each of us was created.

 

 

Converging Generations with Her Brush

 

 

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My mother-in-law is a genius! At 96 she lives independently and still does artwork for which she is justly renowned!

Yesterday, Vickie and I took her out to lunch. As we dropped her off I walked through her garage turned gallery where some of her wonderful works hang. I noted two lovely water colors of Vickie and her sister Claudia.

As her son-in-law for 43 years, I thought there should be one of me. So I asked her when she might do it?

Vickie gave me a dagger look, but Stephanie smiled and said, “How about now? Wait here.”

Five minutes later she returned with a towel, a brush, a few tubes of paint, a small dish of water and a small canvas.

“Sit here,” she instructed.

So I sat.

As she began dabbling with the paint, her face transformed. Years, even decades dropped away as she alternately tilted her head this way and that, looked up and down, and smiled. Her beautiful eyes sparkled.

Ten minutes later she handed me the photo at the top of this essay.

I was floored!

For years people have told me that I look like my mother who looked like her father (pictured next to me, above),  but I never saw it.

Now I do. Clearly!

With her unique eye and exquisite talent, Stefanie converged the generations. Through her genius I see my Poppy, my mother and me all at once.

Yesterday was the eleventh anniversary of my mother’s death. I miss her terribly. There is a tribute to her (just search for Florence Fuchs) on this blog.

My grandfather died when I was ten, and if you read my essay, “Poppy” (also on this blog), you will know how my mother and I both felt about him.

Now, miraculously, Stefanie has brought us all together again!

It is a priceless gift for which I shall always be grateful!