The emotional journey of shofar

Full moon of Elul

We turn off all the lights in the house and sit on the deck with friends, drinking wine, watching the moon through the clouds. A smattering of stars. The clouds are back-lit, unbelievable, hardly looking real.

There's almost no wind, the night is still. The cat prowls for prey in the tall grass. We're talking about Spanish art, about architecture, about old friends. While the moon illumines the clouds from within, I duck back out to the rock at the edge of our hillside where I've been davening shacharit.

I stand on the rock, breathing in the wild thyme that my feet unleashed when I walked across the lawn, blown-away by the beauty of the nighttime landscape. The last full moon of the year. Our roller-coaster pauses at the top of the hill; from here, we begin the rush toward Rosh Hashanah.

I talk to God, quietly, out loud. About places I went during 5767, Prague and south Texas and coastal Maine. The gems that sparkle in the setting of this year: time with family, time with friends, the holiday cycle spiraling forward. My strokes, and what I've tried to learn from them.

Help me process the year, I murmur. Help me work through it in the time that remains. Help me hold on to what I'm meant to hold on to; help me let go where I need to let go, to make room for the year that hasn't yet begun.

I say a shehecheyanu. As I walk back toward the deck where my friends are still sitting, the moon emerges, casting shadows and dappling everything with light.

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