All humanity comes from dust, and ends in dust; like a broken clay shard, withered grass, a shrivelled flower ...
My eldest son put his hand through a glass window on Monday evening. Lots of blood. Off to hospital. The plastic surgeon thinks everything looks OK, but wants to have a closer look under anaesthetic. We have to go back. In the meantime my son’s fine, back at school with a bandage and sling for now, but I’m still a little shaky.
There is nothing like hospital to remind us we are dust, in those extraordinary words of the Unataneh Tokef prayer. In the words of Charles du Bos, it is a ‘reveil mortel’ – an alarm call reminding us of our mortal condition. This is the great message of Rosh Hashanah. Who will live, who will die? I cannot know. Who will be enriched, who will become poorer? Beyond my ken. Who in sickness and who in health? My, how fragile this life is.
We are called, for these two precious days, to acknowledge our mortal existence and asses what mark we are really making on this world. How do we make those around us feel, are there interpersonal relationships to address? And what of our engagement with the cosmos and its creator? There is an irony in the notion that we think most clearly about the quality of our lives when we come close to death.
It is a huge honour to be able to lead this special congregation over these most special days. I look forward with celebrating, reflecting and healing with you all.
For those times this past year when I have failed, I offer my apologies.
And for all your support I am most grateful,
May we be blessed with a year of sweetness and health,