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Anacortes Ferry

Last summer I was invited to give some lectures out in Seattle so we took it as a sign and went out a few days early to explore the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound. The port of departure for most of the island ferries is the city of Anacortes, Washington. During weekends in the height of the tourist season travelers can expect wait times of a few hours.

And sure enough, when we dutifully arrived a hour and a half early, there were already a few cars ahead of us. They had just had the frustrating experience of watching the previous ferry slip away from the dock minutes earlier. One driver of a white Volvo wagon was still fuming about his near miss. Others commiserated with exasperating stories of their own. But each new tale only seemed to exacerbate his pain. And, as if the poor man didn’t have enough problems already, fate - or was it something else? - had him parked next to an Avis rental car driven by a Jewish theologian and his wife from Massachusetts who were on a little vacation.

“Damn it!” He grumbled turning toward me, “If I had only left home another three minutes earlier, I’d have made it.”

“No you wouldn’t,” I opined. “You would have gotten stuck in traffic or got a flat tire. You weren’t supposed to make that boat. Please don’t misunderstand me, but it doesn’t look like that boat had your name on it, otherwise, you wouldn’t be here now.”

“Oh,” he said, startled for a moment. “Thanks, I feel better.”

(I got his card and sent him a bill.)

I do not mean here to advocate “going with the flow” or passive submission - as if we were free to do so - indeed what is set before us often requires stubborn, autonomous, courageous, solitary action. We just right now have this clear sense that we are part of some very, very big cosmic web of inter connections and meaning. There are no coincidences. We pay close attention to whatever seems to be coming down. We understand, as in the Heisenberg principle, that our eyes, our hands, our awareness are part of the equation.

In the words of Kalynomous Kalmish Shapira of Piesetzna, who perished in the Holocaust, “I may not be able to see it right now, but the Holy One fills all creation, being is made of God, you and I, everything is made of God - even the grains of sand beneath my feet, the whole world is included and therefore utterly nullified within God - while I, in my stubborn insistence on my own autonomy and independence, only succeed in banishing my self from any possibility of meaning whatsoever.”B’nei Makhsahva Tova, Kalynomous Kalmish Shapira of Piesetzna, Jerusalem, 1989, 33 (Hebrew).

Contributed by: Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

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Anacortes Ferry

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Lawrence Kushner

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