Embrace light and warmth God provides
I saw a million lights shimmer along the water's edge.
The radiance of the water's spray encouraged me to move forward. Suddenly I glanced down at my feet to find an enormous sunspot on the sand.
God was the sunspot illuminating my path. As long as I walked toward Him, the future was delightful, dazzling full of endless possibilities.
Suddenly, a cloud blocked the light and the radiance vanished. I continued down the beach, hoping this was temporary. I was sure that the light would be back and so would God's guidance. Regardless of the clouds, I had to continue forward.
A few minutes later, the clouds rolled past, revealing brilliant light. But I made a big mistake; I turned around and walked in the opposite direction. The sun was behind me now. I felt the warmth of God's rays beckoning me to return. My path was now uncertain. The privilege of experiencing brilliant clarity was removed. An inescapable loneliness prevailed.
God was nowhere to be found. And life was not the same.
As I walked the wrong way, God's warmth continued to embrace me from behind, gently urging me to turn around.
"V'shavta ad" in Hebrew means "turn around toward God." God is asking us to return to him through our Days of Awe. Let us all understand that we are both limited and we are infinite within our place in life. As we struggle with our personal inadequacies and hope to perfect the imperfect I leave you with one more walk on the beach in hoping to attain the ultimate.
A Perfect Union
I couldn't get out of bed today. It was one of those days when I would rather stay curled up into a ball and let life pass me by. I made myself get up for my walk to the beach. The lethargic feeling stayed and I couldn't shake it off. Could it be low blood sugar? Could it be a feeling of being overwhelmed and not facing up to my responsibilities? I was definitely feeling out of sorts.
I made it to the beach. As I walked along the water's edge, I was startled by my shadow walking in front of me. My thoughts drifted as I focused on her. We strolled along the beach together.
I had questions for her. Is she insecure? Is she lazy? Does she waste time on details that don't matter? Does she have trouble concentrating and paying bills? Does she resist and put aside important responsibilities? Is she patient with her children? Does she nag? Is she looking at the world with enormous possibilities? Does she have the ability to change herself?
My shadow walked ahead confidently. She never felt alone because God was always with her and a part of her. My shadow was everything I wanted to be and more. The perfection I desired.
Suddenly, she disappeared. Actually, she faded and then vanished. What am I to do now? I wanted to follow her. I needed her patience, strength and stamina. She was everything I wanted to be, but could not always be. She was gone and I missed her.
As I turned around and walked back down the beach, I spotted my shadow, behind me. My potential was back. The ocean sparkled with the light of possibility. The future was again bright and limitless.
This time around, I led the way. I was the powerful one, the positive influence. I could accomplish everything. The world abounds with endless potential. I had faith that God would see me through the tough times, my moments of insecurity, and those days when staying in bed seemed to feel a whole lot better than getting up.
As I left the beach and walked toward home, my shadow dissolved into me. The gift of insight set free our enormous possibilities. My shadow and I will never be alone.
Sandy Armstrong is a member of Temple Emanu-El and Congregation Sof Ma'arav. She wrote this poetry as a reflection on the Jewish holy days, which are concluding today with services observing Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.