I'm in the middle of considerable chaos. If you're an observant Jew you spend this week eating all your meals in something called a Sukkah. It's a sort of four-walled canvas room with a roof made of branches or corn husks or bamboo because you have to be able to see the stars at night from inside. The idea is to remember the Jews wandering the desert living in "booths." It sounds so weird it's hard to explain but it's also lovely and romantic and a great way to have company in the crisp autumn lunches and evenings. It's all lit with sparkly white lights (like Christmas decorations) and great fun.
The chaos comes from the cooking and planning. I had a big lunch last Saturday and because it was the Sabbath had to cook it all in advance. It was damp and chilly but fortunately someone had lent me a crock pot so I put the soup on low just before the Sabbath started on Friday night and it was still hot for lunch on Saturday. One of my guests was a vegetarian so I also made salmon, tabouli, eggplant casserole and salad. A friend brought brownies and I made banana bread. But it took FOREVER and learning how to arrange everything to serve outside added to the stress. Everyone loved it but I was exhausted.
One friend of mine does 16 people at a time (I had 11 counting us) and I'm damned if I know how. I am still learning how to do all this -especially in a kosher kitchen. The food DOES matter - it's a sign of respect both to God and the holiday and to those who have entertained us so graciously as we made our way into all this so I get great satisfaction once the chaos has subsided but it's tough along the way. I am blessed in having friends to guide me and answer stupid questions like "can I use a "meat" infusion blender and still serve fish?" Kosher niceties...
The funny thing is that the life we're building now, around religious observance, sukkahs, fasts and prayers, builds a community that feels like the first real one since our days in the peace movement. The goals are strangely similar too, a better world, better selves and great, common goals.
I guess part of all this is the deep loss I have felt as those feeling dissipated in our days since the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements. How amazing that the route back to them goes through the oldest of pathways.