Sukkah: Gimme Shelter by Miriam Sagan

I’m not one to retreat from the world. Yes, I can spend long stretches of time alone in remote settings. After all, I twice spent a week in a trailer in an abandoned air force base in Great Basin. Nothing but howling dogs in the distance and three million acres of bombing range.
However, I experience this as being CLOSE to things–myself, the environment, poetry, even what I’ll call G-d. It’s the difference between loneliness and solitude–solitude being a relationship to the unseen, not a lack.
So I’ve hated the idea of being in lockdown during the pandemic. Locked down with what? Fear, an exaggerated emphasis on my own safety, a compliance with rules? Sorry, this does not sound like me.
I’ve done my best to not be locked away from my world–physically, emotionally, spiritually. I’m always practical, so I’ve given in to the demands of the time. But I’m connecting to nature–from the mountains to my veggie garden. To people–from my family to childhood friends. To literature and art and music. To my spiritual support group. And yes, to the sometimes sad often diminished neighborhood that I live in–and love as much as if it were a person. The details are my own, and might not be universally useful. However, I’m trying.
A friend very kindly said to me–“You’ve created your own life within the pandemic.” I was truly encouraged that she’d noticed my effort.
So I think of myself as living within a tent. It’s not my usual life, but it is serviceable. It is a kind of sukkah. “Sukkah” is defined as a temporary shelter covered in natural materials, built near a synagogue or house and used especially for meals during the Jewish festival of Succoth. It can also be used to describe the sheltering effect of the Shekinah, the feminine aspect of the divine.
So, what is going on in my sukkah? One very important thing to me in life are those seemingly random or casual exchanges that often contain meaning or wisdom. I’ve recently seen a very large man happily catch a very small fish. Been complimented on my tie-dye hippie dress by a stranger. And been given some important personal advice by the laundromat lady.
Gimme shelter.

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