Last week (mid-July 2010), I described what I was doing right then, in a note on my FaceBook page. This is what I said:
"In theory I'm on vacation at Cape May, Delaware. [Cape May, I later remembered, is actually in New Jersey, just across the Bay from Delaware.] It has been a delicious time with Phyllis-- my life-partner, favorite rabbi, and co-author -- and other family, including our ten-month old granddaughter, who is a hoot.
"I say 'in theory' because I've also been deeply involved in two work projects I also find delicious: opening up observance of Tisha B'Av to lament, hope, and action for our endangered universal Temple --- the Earth --- and working on a book Phyllis & I are writing, to be published by Jewish Lights. It's called FREEDOM JOURNEYS, and it's about the archetypal Biblical tales of Exodus and Wilderness and what they mean for us today. Midrash."
One of my FaceBook friends wrote me: " So in that delicious time with your delicious granddaughter, why did you need to bother with work at all?"
Here is why:
My granddaughter is named Yaela Wiser. She loves it when I sing or whistle to her. She bobs up and down, dancing to the rhythm. One morning, sitting on the beach, she started a conversation with some seagulls. She babbled, they squawked. She babbled some more, they squawked some more.
I began to sing to her that great Psalm of our own generation, "Morning Has Broken":
"Morning has broken like the first morning;
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning!
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word!"
And then my voice broke, tears sprang to my eyes. Here it is, the summer of the great oil gusher in the Gulf, where petrels and pelicans are dying in the sludge, and I am singing in joy for God's morning and God's blackbird -- while Yaela converses with a sea-gull.
I wonder: What earth, what ocean, are we bequeathing her? Will her child someday be able to sit beside the great Atlantic as the waves come rolling in, not poisoned by our oil?
Will her child someday be able to babble with the seagulls, not besmirched by oil, not dying breathless as the Breathing Name of God, YHWH, collapses in exhaustion?
That is why I need to do the work, even on "vacation.". That is why we will gather at the Capitol at noon tomorrow (July 20, Tisha B'Av), the day we grieve our imperiled Temple -- Earth. The day we turn hope into action to face a Senate that is itself besmirched with oil, with oily money, and therefore will not act to heal the earth from the climate crisis that besets us, and leave to Yaela's child, a generation hence, sea-gulls she can sing with.
That is why Phyllis and I need to follow the Freedom Journeys of our archetypal past, and walk them in the present, despite our modern Pharaohs we call Big Oil, Big Coal.
If you want more reasons, you can look at the essays on the "Green Menorah/ Global Scorching" section of our Website, here.
You can come to Washington tomorrow and see the reasons before you, or visit your Senator's home office tomorrow or some day this week, or write your Senator by clicking here.
You can think and feel your own reasons. For me, Yaela is reason enough.
Shalom, salaam, shantih --- peace, Arthur