another Sukkot come and gone

Posted: October 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

Another year’s Sukkot has come and gone.  Of all the things I’ve explored in the process of learning to become a Jewish wife, Sukkot is by far my favorite.  It is 7 nights of sleeping outside, in remembrance of the ways that God provided for His people while they wandered around out in the desert.  I have to admit, last year, that facet of it never crossed my mind while we were out there.  It was a fun adventure and sometimes a challenge, and I REALLY enjoyed the afternoon naps I took out in the sukkah – I don’t think I’ve relaxed that deeply since then at all – but I didn’t really ponder God’s provision last year, as far as I remember.  Maybe that was because it was my first Sukkot.  I don’t know.

This year, Sukkot came earlier in the year than it did last year.  So our nights were warmer.  That was a nice change, and now we have a year to find an electric blanket at a thrift store or something, because next year it comes even later than it did last year – we gonna be COLD.

If you’ve been hanging around my blog for awhile, you know I changed my diet substantially since last year.  Sukkot showed me yet another improvement that has come from that change of diet.  Last year, when I would come out from under the 5 blankets into the chilly night or morning air to run for the potty, every joint in my body hurt.  It ached.  I was stiff.  I would try to stand up and would just be stuck bent over, struggling to move.  I walked hunched over like an old woman for several steps before I could walk more or less upright.  The adventure was fun last year, but the level of pain in my joints was acute.  At the time, I thought it was just part of advancing toward the age of 50.

Apparently it was not.  With this new way of eating, which is almost completely absent of sugar or other sweeteners as well as dairy, and very low on highly processed carbs…I don’t have that joint pain throughout my body when we sleep in the Sukkah.  I’m a bit stiff in my feet, which still have arthritis no matter how healthy I eat.  But the rest of me is FINE.  Apparently all that joint pain was NOT just from sleeping out in the chilly night air – my body responded that way to the chilly night air because of what I was putting in my mouth.  What a great gift, discovering this, and it will make it easier for me to stay on the path that my dietary experiment laid out for me so very clearly.

We both slept harder and better out in the sukkah than we do indoors.  The chilly air just seems to knock us out.  I did love that, and didn’t even mind that I came in with a slightly stuffy nose most mornings.

A couple of nights, we heard some critter shuffling around in the leaves somewhere near our deck.  We don’t know what it was.  It didn’t seem inclined to bother us – just sounded like it was snuffling around for edibles.  The final night, we heard some poor small animal scream in the night – like it noticed too late that a predator was taking it.  Made us sad.  Thursday night, for whatever reason, our neighborhood was alive with noise – extra traffic that was extra loud, kids running around yelling.  Didn’t keep us from sleeping, though.  And the final night, some lousy cover band was playing somewhere in the neighborhood, so that was our lullaby as we went to sleep (I found it fitting, as it was on Saturday night, and it just made it feel more like a Saturday night to me.)

The only bad moment(s) I had were around midnight on the final night, when I woke up feeling distinctly something with many legs crawling up my back under my hoodie and t-shirt.  The creep-out from that was exacerbated the the fact that I was pinned down by 5 blankets and I think G’s arm as well.  I got a little panicky – I am pretty darn claustrophobic – but fortunately I was still more than half-asleep, so didn’t vault into pure panic.  I wiggled and moaned and eventually was able to get free and move, at which point I reached up under my shirt, plucked the insect from my back (oh BOY did it feel big!) and tossed it out of the bed.  Then laid there trying to talk myself into going back to sleep.

I considered waking G so we could just go in for the night, but the problem with that was that I had just seen a giant spider in our bedroom in the dirty laundry just a day or two earlier, so I wasn’t entirely sure I hadn’t brought a spider out from the bedroom to the deck inside of my t-shirt, which I had been keeping in a basket on my side of the bed and re-wearing daily.  So what was the point of going inside to escape the problem, if I had actually brought the problem out with me from inside, perhaps?  After all, the last time I tossed an insect off myself in a panic in the middle of the night, it was (I think) a giant spider when I lived in my Davenport apartment, on the third floor of an old hotel (that place had so many spiders, and none of them were small!)

So eventually I managed to get back to sleep (after what felt like forever of just drifting and then panicking to check the slightest itch – and oh, how my body does LOVE to produce spontaneous itches when I start worrying about such things!)  The next day when I was tearing down the bed to bring it back in the house, I found a bug like the one that was probably on my back that night – I had plucked one off of the sheets a day or two earlier while making the bed.  I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s really big and looks like a squash bug (a reference that I suppose only gardeners will understand – sorry!)  So that creeps me out a lot less than the idea of a giant spider on my back, you know?

Anyway, we came here to talk about Sukkot, didn’t we?  And I’m all off on a tanget about the bug on my back.  Sorry.

This year, sleeping in the sukkah really DID make me think about God’s provision.  Every night as I snuggled down under the 5 blankets, I thought about story after story from my life – the endless ways and times that God has shown up amidst a crisis, has supplied my need when I was too messed up to even ask, has protected me from my own idiocy, has rescued me from the corners into which I’ve backed myself.  I thought about the extravagant grace and mercy I’ve experienced, and how completely I did NOT “deserve” or “earn” it, and it made fresh in me the truth of His love and compassion and provision.  I thought about how even when I went through passages when I felt abandoned and beleaguered, always AFTERWARD I could see His hand.  Sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but always it became clear after a time – He had been there all along. He is so good.

There is another part of Sukkot that I learned about too late last year, and thought I’d get to this year, but did not.  So I’m aiming for next year.  There are these 4 elements – oh, I don’t understand it yet completely.  I copy/pasted below something from a website to kind of explain:

The four species in question are an etrog (a citrus fruit native to Israel), a palm branch (in Hebrew, lulav), two willow branches (arava) and three myrtle branches (hadas). The six branches are bound together and referred to collectively as the lulav. The etrog is held separately. With these four species in hand, one recites a blessing and waves the species in all six directions (east, south, west, north, up and down, symbolizing the fact that G-d is everywhere).

So I’m hoping to secure these items before next year and then try to further understand their significance.  I feel like such an infant in all things Jewish, but I do want to learn, you know?

Anyway.  Thus ends another Sukkot.  It was awesome and I’m looking forward to next year, even with the later/colder dates, and even with that bug adventure on the last night.

  1. Mary says:

    Karen what would have happened if it had started raining? you couldn’t stay out in he cold in the rain. let alone what it would have done to your bed! out all of this. thanks for sharing!

    • karen says:

      Well, our deck has a roof over it, and we had blinds on two sides, so that would have helped. The one day when we thought it might rain, we put a tarp over the bed. In the end, we were willing to come inside in case of emergency. 🙂

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