21 Sep The Climb-Rosh Hashana 5775
When I was a kid, my late grandmother used to watch a soap opera called “The Days of Our Lives”. The show would open with some dramatic music and a narrator saying ‘Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.’ Recently I had an encounter with sand while experiencing the unique pleasure of travelling to Namibia in southwest Africa. One of Namibia’s most famous attractions is its sand dunes at Sossusvlei, a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia. In order to fully experience these red sand dunes, one needs to arrive at the park shortly after sunrise. By arriving at that hour one observes unique shadows and colors that reflect off the dunes. The other thing that one experiences is a sudden urge to climb one of these dunes. All through the drive in the early African morning, you see cars pulled over and small figures in the distance making their way to to top of a dune, looking like ants.
When we reached our destination, I could not control this urge, and set off to climb a huge dune with my 15 year old daughter and the 10 year child of our Afrikaner hosts in Namibia. Much to my surprise, the sand on the spine of the dune was soft, making it hard to make headway. Step after step, one made progress, but not much distance had been covered. My breathing got intense as I passed on occasion my fellow climbers, and when we finally reached the top, the view was spectacular. Looking back, I noticed our previous steps were no longer to be found; the desert winds and flowing sands had quickly erased them. The way down looked so scarily steep that it required me to take a leap of faith and descend, my feet sink up to my calves and then I seemingly floated down. The entire experience in the clean desert air was exhilarating.
I think climbing those dunes makes for a nice metaphor as we approach Rosh HaShanah. I think we should view the new year’s challenges as lovely sand dunes calling out to us to climb. We may or may not succeed in all of those goals, but we should always try, and not expect that our efforts leave a lasting impact. In other words, we should always enjoy the ride, whatever the results. I would love to share with you one of my favorite James Taylor songs that follows that theme.
Wishing you all some enjoyable and interesting climbs in the coming year, as well as much health and success.