I wrote in my first #BlogElul post about seeing the Perseid meteor shower with my son, Gabe, who is six. Actually, after I woke him up, he went with my wife and most of the other campers to the basketball court in the middle of camp to view the meteor shower from a different perspective. I stayed behind, because my daughter was asleep in the faculty guest house. I heard this story later.
As they lay on the basketball court watching the stars, Gabe turned to his mother and asked, "Are these stars shining right now, or are we only seeing them after the star is gone?"
Since it was late at night, I don't think she really registered what he was asking. But Briana Holtzman, assistant director of Camp Kalsman, remembered her liturgy...
Gabe has attended Shabbat services most weeks of his life ever since he was an infant. Often, he has heard me read a poem by Hannah Senesh (as interpreted by Cantor Jeff Klepper and Rabbi Dan Freelander) as an introduction to the kaddish memorial prayer:
"There are stars up above
So far away
We only see their light long, long after the star itself is gone.
And so it is with people we loved
Their memories keep shining ever brightly
Though their time with us is done.
But the stars that light up the darkest night
These are the lights that guide us.
As we live our days, these are the ways we remember."
As Briana recognized, Gabe, in his sense of wonderment, was trying to make sense of this piece of liturgy, trying to draw a connection between the words he had heard and what he was witnessing.
These sparks of comprehension, as the words of our prayers come alive for us, are some of the most beautiful moments I know