I write a seder for Passover every year. It is one of my most favorite things to do. Of course, I time it all wrong. I don't pay attention, and wham! There it is, staring me in the face, again. Daring me to cook and clean and write and cook some more, all in record time. And it's not like Pesach is a surprise. It comes, every year, at the exact same time. I know, I know - it seems to float around the calendar, but really, the date never changes. I just live on one calendar, and Pesach lives on another. Maybe that's what lulls me into a false sense of time, and having enough of it.
Maybe it's just a matter of paying attention.
I don't do that nearly as well as I'd like to. Sometimes, I fear I don't do that nearly at all. I seem to pass through my life (no pun intended), barely touching the surfaces. Any depth only comes through hindsight. Oh! That's what was going on! I say, days or weeks or months later, when something else entirely jogs my memory (tapping me on the metaphorical shoulder, or kicking me in the slightly less metaphorical gut) and transports me back. I get it now.
And the engines of time start up again, whisking me away to traipse through my days once more.
So I write a seder every year, and I write it for my son. I write it because I am required to tell the story to the one who is too young to even know how to ask what the heck is going on (a paraphrase, I'm sure). The seder has changed year by tear. The story is the same; the way we tell it isn't. One year was sock puppets. One year was a tale of magic and suspense, told by talking birds, and I think a butterfly. There was "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" Seder, and of course, the ever popular write-your-own-adventure seder, where we broke up the story into segments and teams were encourage to act out their section as creatively as possible.
One year, I was inspired. I wrote Game Day Seder - a series of games and quizzes and challenges to tell the story from beginning to end. There were a lot of kids that year, so it was great, good fun. That year, I started with a treasure hunt for chametz. Now, you should know: I don't get rid of chametz - bread and other rising stuff, and stuff that doesn't actually rise but gives the appearance of doing so, and rising stuff you can't even see but someone will know it's there, even if it's only you and God. I don't use it or eat it during Passover, but I also don't scour my house of it. This year I didn't, next year? Maybe.
Even so, we had a treasure hunt. I hid eighteen large croutons around the house, divided the kids into two teams, and armed each team with a feather and a flashlight. I considered a candle, but then, I knew the kids and their clumsy intentions and willingness to throw themselves into the fun. Flashlights were a good choice.
On your marks. Get set. Go.
And they midfully and intentionally went about their way, searching for hidden chametz. Piece by piece, they found all that was hidden, with enthusiasm and frustration and triumph. Every piece accounted for, eventually. All that was hidden, brought to light, then offered, all together, a flaming, smoking pyre atop my grill, sending up a pleasing odor as dusk gathered in the light from the corners of the sky and the first few stars trembled in the heavens.
I love that we are required to search for all that is hidden. I love that we are given so many hints and reminders throughout the year to do so, so that even people like me, who rip and run and race and stumble and fall through the days can still be reminded to pause, long enough to search all those hidden places, to find - with triumph and trepidation and joy - all of the stuff that was hidden.
I think of Elul as another one of those blue threads that reminds us to pay attention, a gift to allow us to bend and dive and search and find all of the things we hid away, to shine a light in the dark and murky corners and sweep it all together with a feather touch, ready to offer it all up and so be made free. And so be made whole.
- I write, mostly to keep my head from exploding. It threatens to do that a lot. My blog is the pixelated version of all the voices in my head. I tend to dive into what connects me to God, my community, my family and my doubt. I do a lot of searching, not as much finding. I’m good with that. I have learned, finally, to live comfortably in the gray. In the meantime, I wrestle with God, and my doubt and my joy.