01 October 2009
It's cold out. Really cold. Okay, it's not below zero yet, baruch hashem . . . but it's below 50. We're supposed to have overnight frost. I work with teens; I live in a small apartment with nowhere to build a sukkah. So, what am I doing for Sukkot? That's right, I'm taking 15 teens camping.
I never used to overpack. Raised in large part by a summer camp in Missouri at which overpacking was one of the gravest of all sins, I knew at a young age that I could well get by for a good three weeks without a lot of stuff. Lately when I travel, I try to plan ahead for contingencies. I feel like no matter what I do I won't really be prepared for whatever is coming, but instead of embracing that and knowing whatever I have and whatever I am it will be enough I pad myself with more baggage. Well, we all know how helpful that is.
I'm almost 35, I live in a 1 bedroom apartment and everything I own fits in it just fine. The only stuff part of my life that is overwhelming is my books. I have numerous shelves of them. In every room. Compared to the average American, I don't have much stuff. But really, should America be the scale for that?
I recently read, on the blog of one of my teachers, that a 15 year old boy rarely wears his own clothing. Why? Well because when he sees someone else who his shirt or shorts or shoes would fit, he just gives them his clothing. This child comes from a family very privileged in love, but not one with a lot of stuff. He lives in Honduras. Last night I fell asleep thinking about his actions and couldn't decide what to call it. It's not really generosity, I don't think - and he and I have never met, but I am tempted to think it's faith. There is nothing dangerous in giving away what you have when you are confident you will always have what you need.
In personal experience, love for "my kids" works like that. I can give my heart to kids 27 hours a day without getting tired. (plenty of other things totally wear me out, but not that)
This year, I'm going to welcome in the ushpizin and ask them to help me remember that other things in my life could work like that, too. It feels risky. Living in a tent when it might freeze overnight, dwelling in a sukkah with only 3 1/2 walls and schach for a roof. Or maybe, not taking the risk IS the risk. Maybe not giving my body an opportunity to live the trust and the hope I want in my heart, mind and soul IS the risk.
And when I pack for camping, I'll make sure there is enough - enough rain gear, enough warm bedding, enough layers, enough food . . . a siddur, a Tanakch and then I'll trust God and the world to provide the rest. For three days with 15 teens and some trees, and some lake, and some field, and some fire . . . God's toys, God's playground, God's schedule.
Whatever it is, it'll be enough, and maybe we'll all come home a little lighter, a little more faith-full, and a little more trusting.