Summers here in Southern New Jersey can be very hot, very muggy
and very humid. So when a friend called
to invite me to swim in her pool, I eagerly accepted. She told me she swims
every morning at 8:15 together with another friend, her swimming partner. They
have been doing this for years; it’s their escape, a terrific form of exercise
and a great way to invigorate their day.
The pool was large, gorgeous and refreshing. When I arrived,
the two were already hard at work. My friend swims eighty laps every morning
(did I mention the pool was large?) and her friend does the same.
Dipping toe by toe, I slowly stepped into the pool before
jumping in. While my friend’s goal was eighty laps, I knew I’d be happy with
eighteen. While my friend and her friend executed perfect front crawls, their
strokes calculated and strong, I chose to do some relaxing back strokes and
breast strokes. The important thing for me was just to keep on moving which I
knew was great exercise, even with my sloppy strokes. I was careful to stay in my “lane” and be
considerate of their space as I gazed at the brilliant blue sky and the soaring
trees and I felt grateful just being there.
Swimming my own program I thought of the new month we are
Elul is an opportune time for introspection. It is a time to
think about the year that passed and our goals for the coming year. Sometimes
we can get so caught up with comparing ourselves to others, that we miss the
introspection means looking inner, looking at ourselves and our potential.
Elul is the time when “G‑d is in the field”--right here in our
neighborhood, at our jobs, in our homes. The Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains that to come before the king, in the royal palace, requires the admission
of a hierarchy of officers checking our credentials, but when the king comes
out to the fields, anyone can approach him.
Elul is our chance to seek G‑d out in a more open and personal way,
without protocol blocking the way. Irrespective of what we have or have not
achieved in the last year and irrespective of how we compare to the guy or girl
next door, it’s our opportunity to focus on strengthening and developing our own,
personal and intimate relationship with G‑d.
Because we’re all in the pool of life. Whether we succeed in doing
eighty or eight laps is irrelevant. What is important is that we take the
plunge, be considerate of others’ space, enjoy the stunning scenery and focus
on moving forward!