I have been waking up at the crack of dawn, or thereabouts. I am always an early riser. It suits my personality. I am eager to get up, and get and go conquer the commitments of the day. Even on vacation, I find myself rising before the rest of the family to peruse the schedule of the day, plan additional stops with my guide books, etc.
Now, I am waking up not only to do my own preparations for the day, but to care for our new dog, Panda. She is a Black Laborador and Husky mix. She has one blue eye, and one brown eye, and she is the newest addition to our family. I have already begun to call her one of the children! Although her "siblings" help her with walks, and feeding, if I am the one up earliest, then I am the one who will walk her.
On my early morning walks, I am often out before the sun rises. No one is on the street. Well, not exactly. I see the newspaper guy. (Boy, does he drive fast!) I see some joggers. I see a couple of wlking buddies, too. And, I also have bumped into a herd of wild boar. Yes, that was terrifying, but Panda and I survived.
Usually, I am just walking quietly with Panda, and trying for our walk to not be one of those sit-com lines from Seinfeld of "Who is walking whom?" It is a time for silence and reflection. I usually plan out my day of lessons, the rest of the day's errands, and just life. I mean, really, who has time to do that anymore? We are all so busy with work, social media, and family. Do we ever just take time to walk, breathe, and reflect? Not many of us do, unless the Mindfullness bug has caught you already!
But, lately, I have seen a lot of cars at 5:30 bounding down the street. They are all heading towards the Sefardic synagogues in our yishuv. For, during the entire month of Elul (the Hebrew Calendar Month before Rosh Hashana), the Sefardic synagogue has a selichot service in which a special book of prayers of forgiveness is read aloud, and a shofar is blown.
As the sound of the shofar wafts through the early dawn air, both Panda and I jump a bit. It is a shocking sound...one of wailing, and despair. Panda often looks at me in a quizzical manner, as if to say "What was that? Are we O.K?" And, I look down at her and smile. I encourage her to keep moving. For, isn't that what the shofar is all about? Stop. Reflect. Grow. Act. Live. Repent. Keep moving.
The shofar beckons us all to reflect upon the last year, and to think of the New Year's potential. I know this will be a good year, one of progress, growth, and attained goals. What will this year be for you? Let the shofar lead the way.