I am one of those people who questions conventional wisdom, and sometimes that means stumbling on clichés and common knowledge the hard way. It took working two jobs with a long commute to start to understand why Shabbat matters. It took my short but intense flirtation with homeschooling to start to appreciate public school. And this year, I think I am developing a new appreciation of Rosh Hashanah and why we need it so badly.
Rosh Hashanah has come and gone and it is still raining, not constantly, but at least a little bit every day. The rain is falling on top of completely saturated soils, recently flooded farm fields, and daunting new areas of erosion. The past month has been hard on the farm. The ground shook in an earthquake and then the rains started and just kept falling. We saw winter squash plants floating in standing water, lost thousands of pounds of produce to wet and mud, and watched our town flooded with roads and bridges collapsing. As a mother, there have been too many days indoors and we have all become antsy and cranky. More than once, my 4-year-old has demanded we start building an ark “right now, get the hammer, get the wood!”
When I joined my husband in the flooded field, I had another one of those “life is learning common knowledge the hard way” moments. It hurt watching him do the sad and ugly job of sorting the good squash from the bad. But even as I stood there, with my feet sinking in the mud and my toddler on my hip, I could see my family as a black and white depression era photo. Farming is really hard. Everybody knows that. But here we are again, learning lessons the hard way.
Which brings me to my newest — cliché heavy– revelation. This year, I found myself yearning for Rosh Hashanah weeks in advance. I was ready and waiting with apples and honey because I thought Rosh Hashanah would be our new start, the season would change, the rains would stop, we could call off ark building and go out and jump in a pile of dry leaves. But it is already a few days after Rosh Hashanah and guess what? It’s raining again. So, I guess we have to wait a bit longer.
But I needed this idea of a new start, I needed to be filled with hope for what comes next, to imagine turning over a new leaf, a new season, a sweet new year. It might not be starting immediately, but I am sure it is on the way.
Cliché? Most definitely, but I think it is part of what the people who thought up the holiday had in mind and I’ll take it! I wish all of us a happy, sweet, and less rainy New Year.