Moon Over Maui

A Jewish Mystical Journey through the Year

The Full Glory and Heat of Tammuz

Written By: Jueli Garfinkle - Jul• 14•11

I’ve been feeling a little depressed lately. It’s hard to admit, given the fact that I live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Several times a day I have to blink my eyes and remember that I’m alive and not dead. I mean it’s so beautiful here that it’s hard to believe—and even more difficult to remember—that it is real. Technicolor shades of blue and green set the daily scene of seduction. Minutes before the roosters crow, puffy cotton shapes begin a flamingo pink sky dance, frothy waves lap against smooth white sand, waterholes invite me to swim inside of black lava rock beds, waterfalls cascade onto the very roads I’m driving on. For goodness sake, what is there to feel depressed about?

I’m not really depressed. I’m actually quite content

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. Happy even. But I can’t deny the constriction in my heart, the sadness welling within me, the concern and love filling every blessed moment with an awareness of the pain and heat of the human experience.

Ever since Tammuz crested in the sky two weeks ago, I’ve been teetering on a burning equator: to one side life is gorgeous, fulfilling, an eternal gift; and on the other it is fleeting, vanishing, and shaded heavily with pain. It sounds like philosophical cliché; I wish it were. I don’t ever remember around me such a collective cluster of deep, painful, and challenging transitions regarding death and birth.

As I talked tonight with one friend who received a recent and shocking diagnosis of late-stage cancer, I’m reminded that life seems awful, and in fact is awful, but it is also extraordinary. She quotes her oncologist as saying, “If we are to have any chance of survival then we must start chemotherapy tonight.” My heart bursts, my wet eyes squinch shut, I forget to breathe. She shares about her hospital stay, her family, the strength and love she feels from those around her. As she talks, the light of the full Tammuz moon rises behind me. Its reflection in the mirror whips my head around for a full frontal view. It is beautiful and round and beaming above sunset-colored clouds. My heart swells to match its shape and reminds me of possibilities far beyond my own imaginings.



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