Sunday, April 01, 2007


I spent a day peeling vegetables, helping my extended family prepare for Passover. When you imagine 2 Seders with about 15-20 people at each one, that is a whale of a lot of food. So it involves a lot of peeled veggies. My contribution to this effort is to sit down and peel for about 5 hours.

All in all, it is unremarkable work. Apples, yams, onions, beets, ginger, carrots -- all surrendering to the glint of my peeler. It is sublimely ordinary.

So that afternoon, there I was, in a small Greenwich Village apartment, sitting next to a window, the sun pouring through as I peeled. Jack, the Seder host and chief chef, is hovering about as I peel. We catch up on every shred of old news, our own and everyone else's. He kvells about his grand-daughter. I agree that she is remarkable and fabulous. And I peel more.

That is it. That is how the day went. I walked away from that day, and a dinner later with Jack and Estelle at (where else?) a Chinese place, feeling magnificent - flooded with a sense of well-being, of rightness. On the one hand, for those of us who live alone, it is a great gift to be a "part of" a larger whole. It is also a larger gift that I, a Polish Christian, have been enfolded into this extraordinary and vibrant Jewish family. But the best part of all of it is that we are all so ordinary in this annual peeling event. Ordinary is a grounding thing, a reassuring thing, a comfort.

The past couple of years have had their share of difficulties, frailties, struggles. Ordinary moments with my extended family are treasures, gifts from G-d. Reminders of the simple sacredness of the human family.

Life is a gathering up of family. I see life as this long journey, not unlike the Exodus -- all of us shambling along, trying to get from one spot to another. Gathering up those we meet on the way, some because they are such fine company, and some because they need our help. In my extended family, I confess that I have been both.

We are all born with one family, but our life's work is to build the larger clan - to form the tribe - to gather in on the long trek to the Promised Land - to gently gather in the beloveds, one ordinary act at a time, one simple occasion at a time.


Blogger Jayne said...

What a very lovely day... peeling and remembering we are all family really.

8:02 AM  

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