My summer vacation begins now. Better late than never.

I’m mesmerized by the ocean. It’s my first encounter in nine months.

What words come to mind as I gaze at the sea? Power, eternity, beauty, vastness, consistency. Like “old man river,” she just keeps rolling along.

Being by the ocean also reminds me of my childhood summers at Winthrop and Revere beaches. Growing up in Brookline, I never knew there were other options. (Yes, of course there was also Nantasket, but too far for my family for some reason.)

In my 20s, I discovered Crane and Wingaersheek beachs and Duxbury and Marshfield. Only much later, Cape Cod and the islands.

The Atlantic is so cold, but as children we jumped the waves and swam in it as we didn’t know we had options. In my 30s and beyond, I experienced the Caribbean and Mediterranean—much kinder on the body.

This summer I’ve been ocean-deprived. Not even a glimpse. But fortunately I have a week to make up for that. And what perfect timing this turned out to be.

It’s a few days away from Rosh Hashanah—the last week of Elul. I am determined to disconnect from work and be present with my wonderful family and even a few friends who coincidentally landed on Cape Cod as well. What a blessing to be here in spite of COVID-19 experiencing the beauty of nature and God’s creation just a few days away from the birthday of the world.

Our times are indeed dark, but try telling that to the ocean. She’s here to provide perspective and remind us that the world has a long history filled with suffering and pain, as well as joy, beauty and transcendence. It’s still up to us to refresh, recommit and dig in to create a more just society. That’s our job.

My hope is that engaging with this gorgeous body of water will empower me with its strength and inspiration to make a difference in 5781.

Renewal is, after all, the message of the ocean.

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