Chicago visit, sukkot, and fullness of heart

Posted: September 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

If you didn’t know, we are amidst the Jewish “high holiday” season, having just been through the new year (Rosh Hashanah) and then the day of atonement (Yom Kippur) earlier this week, and now tonight begins the festival of booths (Sukkot).

Clear back last spring, G and I were missing Chicago and missing JPUSA and missing riding the Critical Mass, and we sat down to to figure out when we could get back that direction.  Critical Mass is the last Friday of every month; it turned out our “last Fridays” were all taken for the rest of spring and all of summer already (this was something like April when we had this discussion.  So we locked it in our calendar that we’d go the last weekend in September, and then we got busy with the great myriad of other things that have been overfilling our lives.

It was so fun, then, when we figured out that Yom Kippur was going to fall the same week as the Critical Mass, and G asked for both of those days off (plus the entire weekend), and the decision was made at work to just schedule him off for six days in a row.  Though I had reasons I couldn’t get away, I was able to put him on a train the night before Yom Kippur and then he just stayed in Chicago for a little mini-vacation, for which I joined him on Friday.

I don’t think the schedule worked out like that by accident.  I think God arranged a nice thing for us.

Furthermore, awhile back our pastor let me know that I get to give the message at church this Sunday – on community.  I also don’t think it’s a coincidence, the trip to JPUSA working out right as I’m polishing and editing that message.  I picked up some great stuff while we were there that will sharpen what I’m saying.

I really love it when I can see a hundred little pieces that all seem unrelated and then God has taken them and woven them together perfectly.  It makes my heart glad.

Tonight we hurried home to unpack and get the deck ready for Sukkot.  Jews sleep in a “sukka” this week, which is basically a tent or booth or some kind of outdoor structure.  Last year we did this by sleeping out on the deck, and we couldn’t be more excited to do it again.  We worked together to drag the spare bed out onto the deck and create a lovely, inviting space for us, including every blanket we own, and the heating pad is already out there, plugged in, at the spot that will be right between us when we crawl in.  Last year it was beyond delicious, sleeping in the frigid night air under those warm covers.  It’s not exactly roughing it, what with the heating pad and real bed and we even took out a lava lamp for fun, and a clock radio so what we don’t have to reach out from under the warm covers to grab our phones to check the time.  But it’s great adventure.

Of course one wants to dress warm for the occasion.  I’m delighted to report that when I got out my winter running tights, they fit me MUCH BETTER than last time I wore them.  That time, they wouldn’t go properly up over my butt.  Now they’re back to fitting in a non-humiliating fashion, though they’re still tights so I’m still kind of a walking horror in them.  But yay for fitting.  Got those, and my warm hoodie, and a winter stocking hat, and I’m remembering that last year I wore gloves too…better find some of those.  And of course wool socks.  You wish you were me right now, don’t you?  Don’t you?!  I can’t imagine not wanting to do this, though I’m sure some of you will disagree rather…ahem…vehemently.

We went to Saturday services at the synagogue in Skokie while we were there.  As it always is for me, it was a challenge.  I feel like everyone else knows what to do and I don’t.  I told G I wish we could get there more than a couple of times a year, so I could kind of get the hang of it.  And so that my introvert self could start recovering from the extreme discomfort of feeling like everyone knows each other and I know no one – no amount of niceness they throw at me (and they ARE nice!!) can help me to stop feeling “alien” and “other” when I am there, at this point.  Again, I need more consistent time with them – how can you be friends with someone you smile at for a few minutes a couple of times a year?!  But there doesn’t seem to be an easy solution for that.  Maybe I just NEED the discomfort, to help keep me mindful of how excruciating church can be for those who didn’t grow up churched and come for a visit.  That’s probably it.

I’m so grateful to have gotten a weekend at JPUSA.  I get so homesick for that place.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  my heart lives there.  As I rolled in on route 55, my heart got all bouncy, and when I switched to Lake Shore Drive and was checking out all the skyscrapers with the music turned up loud, I realized I was grinning so big my face hurt.  HOME.  That’s what my heart always says as I am rolling into Chicago and toward JPUSA.  My heart lives there.  God was really clear in placing me where I am, and I love my life in the QC.  I love being close to family, love my church, my friends, my workplace.  My life is amazing.  And even having said that, it’s still true that my heart lives in Chicago, at JPUSA.  It was good to go and visit it.  I actually wept for joy this morning while cuddling with G before we headed for church, and that was mostly joy about G…but it rose so easily I think because of where I was.  ONLY GOD could arrange for me to be this happy while not living where my heart lives, you know?

It’s sweet to be back where He’s chosen for me to be, and I’m looking forward to whatever He’s up to next.

Thus ends a blog about nothing except Karen’s very full bowl of emotions.  LOL

Have a great week, all!

  1. Cindy Maynard says:

    Recently began a class with Jeanne Barber and Kay Hedrick as the co-leaders instructing us on the Jewish calendar. It is so cool to recognize the holidays you mentioned and having heard bits and pieces about them!! I hope, once again, to be able to hear your message online. And it is just wonderful hearing about “your heart living at JPUSA” and your love for the community there! This is how I feel about El Salvador! It seems every time we are there and come home, more of my heart stays there. Lonnie and I would love to retire and then return there several times a year to serve and work with the churches there. A dream! Who knows how God will work that out? But I am willing to let him!!
    God bless you Karen!

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