Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Vistas Past and Yet to Come - September 1, 2012 (from the Temple Beth-El Las Cruces newsletter)

Cantor Barbara Finn and Yours Truly!

Rhonda and I took the opportunity to travel (by car) in August both north and west of Las Cruces.  Like the Midwest, and unlike New England, it takes a long time to get from one place to another!   However, the vistas that nature offers along I-25 and I-10 offer a great benefit for both driver and passenger.  The diverse shapes of the mountains and the variety of desert vegetation are fascinating.   On our drive back to Las Cruces from Phoenix, I noted that, given the clouds on that particular day, the Organ Mountains were visible from about 40 miles to the west.   
Rhonda and Larry Karol and
the Temple Beth-El contingent at
Camp Oranim
       Each of our trips offered communal “vistas” of their own.   In Albuquerque, Rhonda and I attended the Shabbat Evening service at Congregation Albert, in which I participated musically along with my fellow Kansas City native, Cantor Barbara Finn.  We visited Congregation Albert’s Camp Oranim for Havdalah that weekend, which was attended by three Temple Beth-El students.  
        I led Havdalah that night with Congregation Albert’s Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld, my classmate at HUC-JIR (and one of the chuppah holders when Rhonda and I were married) and summer rabbinic intern Sydney Henning.  
Rabbis Karol and Rosenfeld
       On our August trip to Phoenix, we watched our son Adam and his friend Kris Rogers record some of Adam’s original songs at the studio of Scott Leader, who produced my CD of original Jewish music, “A New Beginning” in 2005.    It was an honor to see Adam put his music education to work as he brought his songs to life with his own special touch and spirit.  
       The approach of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur every year presents us with the challenge of putting the preceding year into perspective, evaluating how, in the last 12 months, we were able to grow in character, to practice our values, to learn more about ourselves, and to be loving and compassionate individuals in the context of our family and community.   During the High Holy Days, we may view our lives as an ever-expanding landscape with new vistas that we may never have imagined would be set before us.  We may think of the last year in terms of our relationships, considering friendships that have developed and deepened, ties to family that we have tried to sustain and nurture, or new connections we have made within an organization, neighborhood, or interest group.   We might review 5772 in terms of the choices that we have made, where some decisions reflected our best wisdom, while others may have taken us away from where we wanted to be.  
At Brick Road Studio, Scottsdale:
Scott Leader,
 Kris Rogers and Adam Karol 
     In my piece written for Ten Minutes of Torah for the Union for Reform Judaism, “God and Humanity: Getting Closer” (featured on August 16), I focused on the theme of building community through forgiveness and reconciliation, noting the following truth about living with others: “In community life, there are so many times when we or those around us may not make the right choice, so that estrangement and conflict will become inevitable, unless we remember that asking and granting forgiveness can heal the hurt, repair the breach, and restore wholeness, respect and unity.”
Picacho Peak near Tucson, Arizona
     Every new year provides us with a chance to heal the hurt and repair the breach, AND to look at life’s amazing vistas with fresh eyes, as if each step of the journey was new, even if we had “passed that way before.”   The benefit of the passing of the years is that we have more accumulated experience on which to draw, so that we may realized how to strengthen our own moral GPS, realizing that we can move beyond past hurts and offer forgiveness, losing nothing in the process but emotional baggage that would only slow us down in the long run.   This process includes having compassion for ourselves, recognizing our own humanity and giving ourselves a chance to do better in the coming months and years.
     So may be begin the year of 5773 with a new outlook on vistas familiar and unexplored, an approach that will lead us towards hope and joy.   Shanah Tovah!!

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