SUKKOT!

sukkah

Happy Sukkot! (Sukkot Sameach!)

Sukkot, aka the Feast of Booths, is one of the holidays commanded in the Hebrew Scriptures. During the 8 days of Sukkot, families are to construct booths to remember what it was like for the Israelites to live without homes in the wilderness for 40 years.

It is also a harvest festival, so it’s a thanksgiving celebration, an opportunity to take stock of all the Lord has provided for you.

Last year was the first time we really celebrated Sukkot and I was determined to build the booth (aka, sukkah) myself. Although the Bible doesn’t specify many rules about construction of a sukkah, tradition maintains that the rooftop must be made of organic matter and covered with branches thickly enough to provide some shelter from the elements, but thinly enough that you can still see the moon and stars.

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So, we headed down to Home Depot, scooped up some clearance lumber, and A. and I got to work, hammering away at a simple box-frame structure. How hard could it be to make a little lean-to in the backyard?

Turns out: incredibly hard.

I’m lots of things, but not a carpenter. In the end we had to secure part of the sukkah to our fence with bungees just to keep it from completely falling over. I also forbade anyone from entering the sukkah, touching the sukkah, or breathing on the sukkah. So alas, we could not do the traditional thing of sharing a meal as a family in the sukkah. Sad face.

This year I decided to splurge on the real thing: a genuine sukkah courtesy of the fine people at The Sukkah Project <www.sukkot.com>.

You can see it in the above photo: metal pipes that fit together (no tools required!), a mesh curtain to go around, and bamboo poles (organic matter!) on top. To top it off, we used about 10% of our yard debris from the wake of Hurricane Matthew to cover the roof.

Clean-up from a hurricane and celebrate the Jewish festivals: win-win!

On Sunday evening, the first night of Sukkot this year, we welcomed our church group over for an informal pot-luck, time of worship, and quick lesson on the history of Sukkot. Then the next night, the four of us had a family dinner on a picnic blanket inside the sukkah. Even better: after dinner, we made a fire and roasted smores!

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I told Courtney that if given the opportunity to stare at the ocean all day or stare at a fire all night, I’d choose fire. The crackling and popping, the sparks wafting up through the air, the flames dancing and laughing… what a treat to be outside, especially now that the weather in Florida is slooooowly making a turn towards fall.

Happy Sukkot!

Morning prayer, 10/18/16

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you.” –Psalm 5:3

The longer I do this, the more I realize I need the Psalms in my daily life. Been trying to read a Psalm every morning at breakfast time. It’s been hard to make this routine stick, to be honest.

But today I read Psalm 5, and I love the way verse 3 highlights what morning prayer is about: casting a vision for the day (or perhaps, intentionally reorienting one’s vision towards God’s vision) and then waiting to see what happens.

There’s an assurance in this verse that God hears us. There’s an awareness that God wants to hear more from us, all the specifics and details. And best of all, there’s this expectation– all right, God, so what are You going to do today? I’ve given you my hopes, my thanks, my fears, my questions, my goals. I’m ready; let’s get started.

It’s almost like a flipside of Genesis 2:19, when God brings the animals to Adam “to see what he would call them.” Just as God takes delight in watching what Adam will do next, so can we take delight in watching what God will do after our morning prayers.

I remind A. regularly that life with God is an adventure, with each day about talking to Him, hearing from Him, and then responding in faith. This verse is a great reminder (for me!) of this truth.