L’Shanah Tovah! Literally “for a good year,” it is a traditional greeting Jews make during Rosh Hashanah, which ended earlier this week. It is the beginning of the new year on the Jewish calendar. It says we are now living in the year 5780.
“But wait,” you say, “this is 2019.” Yes, it’s 2019. On the Gregorian calendar, a calendar that was made official by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. The Gregorian replaced the older Julian calendar, dating to around 64 CE, because the Julian Calendar never accounted for what we now call a “leap” year.
By the way, the Chinese calendar says we are living in the year 4717, the Year of the Boar as of Feb. 5. And the Muslim Calendar says we are living in the year 1441 as of Aug. 30.
There are probably more calendars with varying years in which we now live, but, 2019 is recognized as the more universally accepted calendar. Time is pretty relative if you ask me. (I know, you didn’t ask me.)
Last Monday was the Harvest Bowl Committee meeting at the Imperial Valley Food Bank. Throughout the year I cook dinner for them at those meetings. It’s my small way of thanking them for all the work they do to put on such an amazing event, an event that celebrates the fact that you all have said, “No more hunger here!” No more hungry seniors and children, our most vulnerable folks. No more hungry families who have met with financial difficulties, or whose parents work, but can’t quite make it through the month on what they are paid.
Anyway, Monday was Rosh Hashanah, and I cooked up a meal similar to what many in our Jewish community would be sharing. The highlight for the committee was the Kugel.
Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of a new year. It leads into 10 days of repentance that culminates with the celebration of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. I think we all could use a little repentance and atonement right now. As one of my friends said, “It’s been a long year this week!”
Many are experiencing a time of confusion, or anger, feelings of dislocation, or depression, or helplessness. Or maybe feelings of entrenchment, of conviction, of persecution. And accompanying these feelings we might question whether we will ever feel better. A recent New York Times article questioned why many of us just aren’t very happy.
When I read that I thought, “I’m happy.” Not Pollyanna-like happy. More like a deep sense of joy. Every morning I wake up I say, “Thanks!” for one more day, one more day to try to make our community a better place. One more chance to say, “Hi” to the elderly woman who sits outside of Vons, waiting for, well, I’m not sure what she’s waiting for. One more day to be present with a friend who struggles with life itself, or to celebrate an accomplishment, a goal achieved, a life’s milestone.
This doesn’t mean I don’t have doubts, or concerns, or questions. It doesn’t mean everything goes my way. What is does mean is I have come to know and believe that, no matter how bad things might get, God is always in the middle of it bringing something life-giving to it. Always.
When you think about it God, who is timeless, was present before any of our calendars. 5780 may seem like a long time, but it pales in comparison to the 14 billion years the universe has been around, a universe God created and called good. Called us good. And still does. We are made of the stuff of creation. We are stardust.
A long year this week? Really?