Sunday night was a night like many others in my summers, I officiated at a wedding. This wedding was a llittle bit different for me. I stood underneath the Chuppah with a bride who some decade and a half ago was a confirmation student of mine. And as life/fate would have it, our paths brought us from Nashville, Tenneessee to Colorado. While I have had the chance to reconnect with last night’s bride before the wedding, it was not until last night that I had the chance to do so with other Nashvillians whom I have not seen since my departure 14 years ago. I had the chance to visit with her family – who were active at the synagogue and were individuals whom I fondly remember from my time there. I also had the chance to see some of her contemporaries from Nashville. While some of these people were the bride’s fellow confirmands, to me they were my students, my ‘kids’ (even though I now must embarassingly admin to how close to being a kid I was at that time!)
Now, the experience and this concurrent rambling of mine is not exactly the usual ‘time goes so quickly’ type or reflection. I did have those kinds of reactions and thoughts as I had the chance to visit with them … awed by listening people who I knew so well as teens and who I thought as in some way as my ‘kids’ talking to me about their actual (without quotes) kids … amazed by the realization that that when last I spoke with the parents of the bride, they were not much older than I am right now … humbled to not be able to see relatives whose deteriorating health prevented them from being present or even aware that a wedding was happening.
It was not that I felt ‘old’ in reflecting upon these encounters, but rather that I glimpsed a moment of raw clarity as to the nature of time. In a moment I felt its driving and relentless nature. I felt the power of its incessant move forward – intertwined with our fates and destinies. I was just a person at the beach – wading out for a feel of the water- who suddenly gets caught in the undertow. I was helpless in its grasp and it filled me with wonder for its power and with fear from my own powerlessness. It was reminding me that even if its power left my consciousness, it was still there moving, pushing and changing me and the world around me. I wondered: What have I been doing the past 15 years? Have I done as much or been as much as was possible? What is next for me? How will I do the most or make the most of whatever is next?
That glimpse of time, that sense of my true place in it all and the focus and urgency that followed was a hint of the days ahead. I think if this time of year is working correctly, it serves to open up our eyes to see the true nature of time and our place in it. Perhaps the Days of Awe is a period of AWE, because these days urge us to wade into the sea to encounter that power of the temporal undertow – to be sufficiently touched, moved, afraid, awed by the true nature of our lives. In turn with just a glimpse of its nature we may discover humility, perspective and even inspiration.
Get your bathing suit ready, it’s time to take a swim …