We're in the height of summer. The days may be growing shorter, but it's not perceptible yet. I brought home the first stunning red tomato from Caretaker Farm this week and ate it one day for lunch, diced into pieces and sprinkled with fresh-ground pepper and a few flakes of sea salt. The wisteria which grows up the side of our house beside my office window is in full leaf, and its tendrils are beginning to obscure the window in front of my desk. The evening air smells like newly-mown grass (which, at our house, also means rampant mint and wild thyme.)
Last winter it seemed that summer might never arrive. (This is not entirely uncommon for me, though having a newborn definitely exacerbated that sense in ways I hadn't anticipated.) Now it's almost unthinkable that summer will ever end -- though the goldenrod in our backyard meadow is tipped with bright yellow, and the full moon of Av is waning, which means the rollercoaster ride through the Jewish high holidays is right around the corner.
I've been working on pulling together a cd of high holiday music: some of the nusach and tunes we sing every year, plus a few new melodies we'll be incorporating into this year's services. It was fun to go digging through iTunes for recordings of some of the melodies in question, and to record others myself. Rabbi Goldwasser and I are planning to send the cd out to everyone on the Congregation Beth Israel mailing list, in hopes that it will help people get "in the mood" for the Days of Awe. This year my high holiday pulpit is right here at home; I'll have the pleasure of working alongside my rabbi at CBI. On a practical level it's a relief to know that we won't be traveling anywhere with Drew for the chagim -- and on a spiritual level there's something especially sweet about serving my own home community for the holidays!
The other projects on my plate also have me focusing on the future. I've been working on an essay that's due at the end of August (about which more anon, assuming that it's accepted for publication). And I've been working on my senior teshuvah. The big project required of every ALEPH musmach -- ordinee -- is writing a teshuvah, or legal responsum, to a contemporary question of Jewish law or practice; that's due in early fall, too. And this past Sunday morning, ALEPH's 2011 smicha (ordination) class met over conference call for our first conversation about preparing for smicha.
Each smicha class plans the ceremony anew. There are elements which must be included, but there's also room for creativity. The running joke is that it's like planning a wedding -- for ten people instead of just two! It's amazing and exciting to see that milestone approaching. Of course, we're not there yet. Each of us has coursework to finish; all of the rabbinic students are working on our teshuvot; most of us have at least a few classes left. (I'll be taking one class this fall -- and then, after I'm ordained, I'll still need to finish the hashpa'ah / spiritual direction program, which will end in January of 2012.)
One way or another, there's a lot on the horizon. My challenge is to keep all of those balls up in the air without losing track of what's wonderful about this moment right now: the long days and moonlit nights, the call of the veery thrushes in our woods, suppers of salads and fresh corn. So much to savor.