"If it's not fun, why do it?"

Posts tagged ‘Yearning’

What Mess? What Noise?

 

Whatta lotta matzah!

Whatta lotta matzah!

Passover is done for another year.

I loved it. I loved having five of our children around and various guests. I loved the planning, cooking, and serving. Even the cleanup after meals didn’t faze me. I was “in the zone.” I felt connected and fulfilled. My shopping list on Google Drive made me ecstatic in the stores. I felt efficient and prepared. I loved the crumbs on the table, the potatoes, and having to reach into a different cupboard than usual for a plate. I loved the seeming mess, having things displaced, needing to walk new paths, searching for equipment. A change, a shake-up. Spring-cleaning for the mind. Last year we were slaves; this year we are free.

And oh my–the second batch of chicken soup was one of the best I’ve ever made! With matzah balls! (The first batch was great, but this second batch… ummm yummm!)

Single-Bottle Wine Caddy
Last Sunday I “turned my kitchen over,” i.e., boxed up and sequestered all of the Passover plates, cookware, and equipment so I could bring out the year-round items. I discarded unused equipment: the wine bottle caddy my husband received with a Purim package ages ago but is not useful at the Seder; his Chinese-patterned melamine plates from before we were married that we used before we bought the new purple ones; and the decorative metal and glass serving box for machine-made square matzah because we predominantly eat handmade, round matzahs. I climbed up the stepladder to the cupboard above the refrigerator–which is closed year-round–and lovingly tucked the Passover supplies to sleep for another year.

I wish there had been more noise. Crazy? I wish there had been more visitors. I wish the apartment had been full of our children and their friends laughing, playing games, and squabbling. Although we played Settlers of Catan one afternoon, people drifted away for naps instead of digging in for the noisy, competitive, seemingly endless tournaments we’d played in younger years. The friends live elsewhere and a small New York City apartment gets crowded quickly.

I have memories of family meals from my childhood. Adults babbled in important adult tones; children laughed and shrieked while spilling drinks and tracking crumbs. Blotchy with wine stains, the tablecloth reminded us of years past. There’s a photo of my sister and our cousin, both about 5 years old, pouring soda and laughing. That’s what I remember.

Don't open! חמץ (Chometz; leavened items) may be lurking there!

Don’t open! חמץ (Chometz; leavened items) may be lurking there!

That’s what I hope to recreate.

The noise, the mess, the planning, the excitement. The expectation of the Seder meal, retelling our exodus from slavery in Egypt. The drama of one whole week of the year dominating our minds so thoroughly. That is Passover of the past, present, and of the future. I hope our children will retain happy memories of this year’s holiday. Doesn’t every parent wish this to be so?

We pray: Let us all be reunited in Jerusalem as One People, celebrating the Passover together, giving thanks to the One Who freed us and continues to sustain us throughout all time.

לשנה הבאה בירשלים

Next year in Jerusalem!

The ‘Subway Hilton’ will be full tonight

He lives here. People walk by with only a glance at most.

People walk by with only a glance, at most. -Rockefeller Center

We’ve all seen homeless people in the New York City subway system. They stake out some turf and occupy it with all of their possessions. Or, they’ll occupy a subway car, riding it as far as they can before getting hassled or chivvied onward. Their fug clouds the air. Who are these people? Mentally ill? Down on their luck? Alcoholics? Drug users? Poor? Or just plain unlucky? Some are sick and not getting healthcare; their bare ankles have open sores and teeth rot in their mouths. How can they be eating right or taking care of personal hygiene?

Mr. Purple Hat rests his head on his arm. I can’t tell if he’s feigning sleep or truly in a daze. He owns this location, sits in this same position at various times of the day, on various days. He parks himself and his belongings close to the collector’s booth and not far from busy turnstiles. Much foot traffic passes him. People sometimes glance over at him but I’ve never seen anyone talking to him. I’ve never seen him stir although sometimes just his black plastic crates are there as if he’s left to do some shopping and will return “home” shortly.

People live in the subway system. Does that make the subway their home? So they’re not really homeless then?

The subway tunnels are covered at least, out of the wind, protected from rain. With the onset of icy winter weather and single-digit temperatures, the Subway Hilton will be full tonight. Men stretch out on the wooden benches scattered on the platforms. They appear to sleep even as the train clatters down the rails, shaking the ceiling at greater than 90 decibels. That’s the sleep of innocents, of babes, and others who are oblivious to their surroundings.

Never have I seen Mr. Purple Hat look at a passerby or show any curiosity. I think he’s biding time, hanging on to the little he can control by his fingernails. We walk by. A young man veers toward him then swerves. Two women turn their heads around to look at him while piloting forward. Most just stride by on their way to work, appointments, lunch, or to catch a train. Mr. Purple Hat is background, a breathing NYC wallpaper fixture. We presume they are hopped up on dope or drunk. We wonder (with righteous sniffs) why they aren’t being rousted by the police. We pause to think of the agencies or organizations that could possibly help them… assuming they let themselves be helped.

I doubt any mother ever suckled her baby thinking he would end up at the Subway Hilton. I doubt we ever thought ourselves capable of ignoring another human’s plight. But there are so many of them, these poor disaffected souls! We look at them and see the surface. Surely G-d sees their souls and rejoices in them.

I chip at the armor covering my eyes and heart and yearn to see their G-dly sparks, too.

 

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