Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Garden Story--Epilogue: Leaving the Garden (Neilah)

When they left the garden, I closed the gate behind them, even though there was no need.  It was a gesture like the cherubim and flaming sword—for my sake rather than theirs, as I knew before they departed that they would never come back to stay.  They’d cherish it in their memories, and visit from time to time as their busy adult lives allowed.  But never again would it be their home.  They’d chosen to grow up, which is how I’d meant it to be.

Still, when they departed, I wept.  Tears of sorrow, tears of joy—like those of any parent when a beloved child leaves home.  My tears fell as rain, soaking the earth, splashing in the river that Adam and Chava followed downstream out of the garden.  As night fell, a chill set in.  Rain turned to the first snow, as pure and white as the vestments of this sacred season, as the waxing moon rising in the darkening sky.

Adam and Chava took shelter in a cave beside the riverbank.  They held each other closely, for warmth and comfort and love.  When, at last, the snow stopped, they stepped out and spied their reflections dancing over the surface of the stream, mingling with water and moonlight. 

Then, for the very first time in the world, moved by longing and loss and love, they sang to me:

Avinu malkeinu chaneynu v’anaynu ki ayn banu ma’asim. . .

Have mercy on us, they chanted—be gracious, and show us your abiding kindness.

Then, moved to my core by their brave music in the night, I sang, too.   In a still, small voice—the faintest whisper on the wind—I sang with them, asking their mercy and forgiveness as they had pleaded for mine. 

And so we sang.

And so we sing, here, tonight. 

And so we sing our way together—

through the evening’s closing gates and into the beckoning world.

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