I’m in the sukkah a little later than I like to be. It’s already getting warm but thankfully there’s a nice breeze that is blowing through every so often. I’ve been up for about an hour already but I have been upstairs packing and checking in for my flight tomorrow. I’m going to New York City to get my daughter settled for school there. This has definitely affected how I’ve approached Sukkot this year and every time I thought about what theme to embrace for writing this week I kept thinking about how temporary and transitory life is. Considering I will be writing from various locations this week I think it’s fitting.
So much of life is about transition. The Jews who wandered in the wilderness — not only were they transitioning from Egypt to the Promised Land, they were stopping and starting as led, in the moment, by the Shekinah appearing as a pillar of fire and a cloud. When the cloud would move it was their responsibility to be within her. The meta picture of Sukkot is remembering that time — dweling in a temporary structure the same way they did and remembering what they went through. There’s also the aspect of being grateful we are settled. But are we?
I’ve lost count of the number of homes I’ve lived in during my life. My best guess would be 40. Maybe closer to 45 if we include dorm rooms and every apartment change in college which, honestly, I do because it was a legit move and I had to settle in and live in a different space. For most of my life moving came more naturally than staying.
I was born when my dad was in the military and we moved every year of my life growing up. Country to country. Island to Island. City to city. Home to home. As he neared retirement we were moved into a home that was supposed to be ours for 3 years — the longest we had lived in any one place. A few months later they announced a plan to renovate the home and were moved across the Base to another home for a year. We knew to never get too excited about being settled. Even when my parents settled into a home they lived in for many years it was about a year and a half until I left for college and continued my transitory existence.
I learned I was pregnant with my twins a few months after we bought a house. We lived in that home for 7 years so when we started moving again it was new to them. Of course we’re older and more tired and as a family of 7 we have more stuff so the last few moves have been tougher. We’re eternally grateful to friends who helped us. When we moved into our current rental home we determined to stay until at least a couple of our children were in college and we had saved up the money to hire movers. Our next move, whenever it comes, will be the first one with paid movers. Think about that for a moment.
We’ve lived where we are now for almost 4 years and now our first is leaving. Our oldest is in college. It’s local and we’ve managed to convince him of the wisdom of living at home while his campus is close because it’s expensive to live on your own and no one needs that stress when they start college. Our daughter started college locally and now has an opportunity to study what she loves at an amazing school. Several confirmations that this is divinely ordained and we’re off.
I’ve got a list of the sukkahs open to the public in NYC. I’m excited to check out at least a few of them. I doubt I’ll have time to sit and write in them, but I’ll share my thoughts that come while I’m meditating inside. I will also be posting from airports, and an Airbnb room we were blessed to get. Maybe a coffee shop. How better to explore the reality of our transitory nature.
If you think about it, even our bodies are temporary. We inhabit them only for a little while and then our soul is unhindered. Like most long term leases they break down and need repairs, and when the Shekinah says it’s time to go we must relocate. Eventually we will go on to our true home, our eternal home. I find when the temporary nature of my current existence gets too much it helps to remember this. And when change comes flooding at me it helps to sit in a sukkah and remember that life has always been transitory and temporary and to connect with others who came before who dwelt in sukkahs.
Thankfully while we are housed in these bodies I know my children, wherever they go on their adventures, will always know where home is.