To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven, Ecclesiastes 3:1.
These are after-thoughts from inspired messages and silence shared on Sunday, the first day of September 2013, as we contemplated the move to the new meetinghouse during this time, this season, the “right time under heaven” for our move.
This is the season of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the new year in the tradition of our spiritual ancestors, the descendents of Abraham. The common greeting on Rosh Hashanah is "Shanah Tovah, " literally “good year,” a hearty wish for a good year ahead. The first day of Rosh Hashanah is observed as the anniversary of the creation of the world. It emphasizes the special relationship between G‑d and humanity, our relationship with G‑d as our creator and sustainer, and G‑d’s relationship with us as the ones who make G-d’s presence (we Quakers might say Light) known and felt in this world. It is a time for reflection, inner renewal, atonement and renewed relationship with the Divine.
When was the last time Rosh Hashanah began as early as September 5th?
That was the year that Queens and Staten Island became part of New York City, the Great Blizzard of 1899 pounded South Florida with snow, fighting raged in Afghanistan (then it was the British), the paperclip and Bayer aspirin were patented, voting machines were approved for federal election, and the Bronx Zoo opened in New York. It will be another 76 years (2089) until Rosh Hashanah comes this early again.
When was the last time that Rosh Hashanah began early in September during the same week that Chestnut Hill Friends moved into a new meetinghouse?
Rosh Hashanah began on Friday, September 11, 1931, and on First Day, September 13, 1931, the first Meeting for Worship took place in the new Chestnut Hill meetinghouse, described by a member as, “a significant event. What do we expect of it? How will it affect our informality?” (P.7 of the pamphlet, Chestnut Hill Monthly Meeting, The Founding Years: 1924-1931 by Elizabeth Biddle Yarnall, copies available from Phil Jones at the meetinghouse.)
And, when is the next time this Divine synchronicity will take place?
This year, the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on September 5th and our first worship in the new Chestnut Hill Friends meetinghouse will likely take place on First Day, September 8th.
This song line keeps coming to my heart: Till by turning, turning, we come round right. "Simple Gifts," composed in 1848 in Maine by Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, was largely unknown outside Shaker communities until Aaron Copland used its melody for the score of Martha Graham's ballet Appalachian Spring, first performed in 1944. Both the music and original lyrics were written by Brackett. These are the lyrics to his one-verse song:
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.
May the new year of 5774 (Jewish calendar) and our renewed life in the new meetinghouse be filled with the blessings of good health, happiness, and sweetness for all!