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 didnt 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, Id have made it.
No you wouldnt, I opined.
You would have gotten stuck in traffic or got a flat tire. You werent supposed to make that boat. Please dont
misunderstand me, but it doesnt look like that boat had your name on it,
otherwise, you wouldnt be here now.
Oh, he said, startled for a
moment. Thanks, I feel better.
(I got his card and sent him a
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
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.
Contributed by: Rabbi Lawrence Kushner