Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sukkot 2011 Alaskan Style

Celebrating Sukkot has become a serious challenge to us somehow.  Because we live in what is considered a "temporary  dwelling" all the time, it's hard to think that we need to move to a "more" temporary dwelling to keep this feast.  In years past, we've wondered that maybe we need to move ourselves into our tent.  Being in Alaska, however, put that idea right out of our heads.  

Of course, our "Nest" is a lot more luxurious than the succa's that we are instructed to build for ourselves in the Scriptures.  This year made us even more uncomfortable with trying to keep Sukkot as we've been instructed, as our new location has made it necessary for us to make some changes to our rig in order for us to survive the winter cold and because we have no land or space of our own, building another structure isn't permitted.  

This "skirting" that we've added to our rig is designed to reduce the amount of cold air/wind that is coming up through the floors and under the slide-outs.  Although it can be removed when the time comes for us to move on, it will still be a major task.  This creates a very real barrier to any thoughts of just changing our location on a whim.  Of course, any real snow and we're going to be staying put anyway.  This just puts a visual to our new loss of nearly instant mobility.  This was our "building project" for Sukkot.

Again, as we find ourselves in a new location without any fellowship, the joy of keeping Sukkot by ourselves is rather muted and sad.  This is a sentiment that is echoed by many of those that we've met on our travels.  We're all left with a longing in our heart for that future day when we will be gathered into HIS Kingdom to celebrate Sukkot together.  Until then, we pray that your Sukkot was a blessed and happy event!  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Observing Yom Kippur

 Yom Kippur is the first of the "feasts" mandated by YHVH Elohim.  It's not actually a "feast" although it's included in the list of feasts.  It's a time of fasting.  It is also the first Biblically mandated feast that I ever tried to observe when I first came to be drawn to live a Torah-centric life.  

This was back in 2006 while I was still living in Thailand.  I didn't have a lot of knowledge or instruction in Torah at that time so all I knew to do was to go without food or water for 24 hours. 

 My strongest memory of that event has colored every Yom Kippur that I've observed since then.  All during the fasts my most predominant thoughts have been about food and what I would be eating once my fast was over.  I can't claim to have any kind of spiritual superiority in me.  

This year was different.  
Shabbat Moon

Over the years, I've learned a lot more about what it means to observe Yom Kippur and some of the traditions that are associated with keeping this fast.  I've added to my fast a time of abstinence from my computer and other electronic toys and we try to maintain a time of personal quiet without music and excessive talking.  

One of my favorites involves the act of throwing stones into a body of water.  This is a symbolic act of casting away my sins that have been forgiven by the blood sacrifice of our Messiah Yeshua.  It's supposed to help us to loose the bonds of any sins that are still trying to cling to us (or so, as I understand it).  This isn't in the Scriptures.  It's just a tradition that some chose to include in their time of Yom Kippur.  

In Israel, many people observe Yom Kippur that don't even believe in YHVH Elohim.  I was able to read some of their reasons that they chose to observe this feast and wonder at that.  One person felt that it made them a part of the larger community and another felt that it somehow connected them to their more religious family members.  I think that being in Israel where this is a widely observed time of quiet makes such thinking more prevalent.  

Here in Homer, it was NOT quiet where we were at all!  There was constant noise from nearby construction and heavy traffic noise from the intersection outside.  The beautiful sunshiny day had a lot to do with the noise as we live on the road that accesses the public beach.  The noise and the constant activity around us made the day a lot more stressful and forced us to work much harder to maintain a sense of inner quiet.  

As we're in a crunch to get our rig prepared to fend off the winter's cold, the thought that we needed to be out and about kept pulling at us.  It took a lot of effort and commitment to stay focused on the purpose and meaning of the day.  

In the afternoon, DannyLee took Ariela down to the beach for a stroll and found a couple that had buried their car to the frame in the soft sand.  He was faced with the question of whether or not it would be right for him to embark on a rescue mission.  The Scriptures concerning Shabbat and the need to pull your neighbor's ox from the ditch on that day came to mind and he drove off to do his good deed.

I was sitting in the rig considering whether or not I wanted to walk down to see this for myself when Ariela started barking like crazy.  I looked out the window to see what all this noise was about only to see a large moose about 10 feet away.  It was standing in the middle of the intersection appearing to be trying to make a decision as to which way to go.  The drivers at the stop signs waited patiently until a left turn was chosen and the intersection was cleared.

As I said, this year Yom Kippur was different for me.  Although the noise and activity around me caused me to feel stressed, I can say that for the first time ever observing this fast was actually a delight to my soul.  I wasn't thinking about food the entire time.  In fact, food was way down on the list of my thoughts.  I was mainly focused on being quiet and just resting in HIM as I waited for HIM to speak to me if HE should so desire and if not, just to wait.  

At the end, I was glad to be a part of something that is significant to all of YHVH Elohim's peculiar people.  Although many of us find ourselves alone and lonely as we crave the fellowship of like-minded people, there are things, such as the feasts and Shabbat that bind us all together into one community.  We look forward to that day when our Messiah Yeshua returns and brings HIS people into one community in one place - Y'srael!