Sukkot in a Time Of Pandemic: A Poem

October 5, 2020Lee McPhillips Radlo

This year is different – yet really, each year is different from the year before. Our circles of family and friends expand with births and new connections; they contract with deaths and relocations.

This year, even if you do not have a sukkahsukkahסֻכָּה"Booth" or "hut;" temporary structure associated with the agricultural festival of Sukkot; plural: sukkot. to visit, you can still experience the kavanahKavanahכַּוָּנָהOne’s personal intention or direction of the heart when praying or performing mitzvot; the intentions and devotions individuals bring to their own prayer; often juxtaposed with keva. and the ruach (spirit) of Sukkot.

Sukkot 5781

Step outside
onto your balcony
your fire escape
your sidewalk
into your backyard

Look up
look deep into the night sky
let yourself travel back
We all stood at Sinai
We all were in the desert

Let yourself feel what it took to trust
to trust Adonai
to trust leaders
to trust your heart

Feel that sense of rootlessness
coupled with the desire for home
individually
collectively
to be home

Think about those who wander still
those who seek home
those who are struggling to build a better life
for themselves
for the next generation

Be present with all that
instability
impermanence
uncertainty
Carry those feelings with you
from when we all traveled together
in the desert

As you turn to go back into your home
your studio apartment
your condominium
your dorm room
your bungalow
your farmhouse
As you reach up to touch the mezuzah
let the gratitude wash over you

Gratitude
for the permanent abode
with a solid roof
and sturdy doorpost
affixed with that mezuzah

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