First, I have to back up before Sunday to Saturday. We had what we referred to as a “redneck campout,” wherein we pitched tents and built a campfire at some friends’ house…right in the middle of scenic “downtown” Palmyra (pop. ~600). It was great fun, the kids got to roast hot dogs and marshmallows over a fire, we all got completely covered in mosquito bites despite the best efforts of citronella candles and DEET, and there was much talking and laughing and outdoor karaoke (mostly performed by teenaged girls).
So, we had a little festival of tents going on Saturday, and then Sunday morning rolled around. We managed to get to the “late morning” service, and the passage we were learning about was Nehemiah 8: 1-18. (Click the link if you want to read it. Or not. Your call entirely.)
What does Nehemiah 8:1-18 end with? A big ol’ Festival of Tents. Or, put more properly, the Feast of Tabernacles (I can’t remember the Hebrew name for that holiday at the moment.)
For those who don’t want to click the link, it starts with a 6 hour sermon, has a little group emotional catharsis in the middle, and ends with a great big party. It’s the biggest party for that holiday that anyone has seen in a couple of centuries. Gotta love that.
So anyway… I have to admit that I have an unusual (for an accidental Baptist) fascination with the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. First of all, it’s a harvest festival, and I love me a good harvest festival. Second–TENTS! CAMPING!! I am so completely redneck enough to love anything that involves tents and camping in your own yard.
But here’s the big thing that I love about the Feast of Tabernacles. It’s about being okay with transition and unsettledness. Jewish people celebrate Sukkot (ha! I love Google…) in remembrance of the time when they were wandering in the desert. It was the time between imprisonment in Egypt and settling in their permanent (more or less) home in the Promised Land. During that time, they lived in tents and moved around a lot. Kind of like an entire nation of military brats or missionaries’ kids. But I digress.
Right now is a Transitional Time of Great Unsettledness for me. Transition from summer to school routine for the kids. Back to school (after a crazy-long absence) for me. Transition and unsettledness in great abundance at work. Transition and unsettledness in my marriage and mom life. Going from “mom of a schoolkid and a preschooler” to “mom of two school age kids” is a much weirder change than I was anticipating.
But in pondering the passage in Nehemiah, and the feast of Sukkot in general, I’ve decided to give myself permission to be in beta for a while.
My morning routine? More than a little buggy right now. We missed the bus on the 3rd day of school, and I had to drive the kids to school (which the 7th grader loved, and the kindergartener hated). We’re still working out the timing of showers, cereal, lunch-packing, teeth-brushing, etc. for four people with one bathroom. At work, things are getting better, but I still find that I’m spending more time than I should be reacting and putting out fires. I’m slowly trying to migrate from the “urgent but not important” quadrant to the “important but not urgent” quadrant of Covey’s 2×2 matrix. I’m getting back into Getting Things Done, but it’s not a habit yet by a longshot.
Still, I’m not going to get there any faster by beating myself up about not being there now.
Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, whatever you call it–it’s about being okay with being unsettled, because you know it’s only a season of your life. You know that no matter how much it feels like you’re wandering around in circles in the desert, that you’ve got a Promise. That there is a Destination. That eventually, you’ll get there.
I just hope it doesn’t take me forty years.