The first week of classes has ended, and my "to-do" box is overflowing: life is back to normal at Chez Ruth. That vacation was wonderful, but it's over.
I like being a third year student: I know my way around, know what's expected of me, know that the impossible-looking workload is actually probably do-able if I work smart -- and that part of my learning task is to figure out how to do it! -- and perhaps most important, I have a clearer idea of what isn't important.
And I'm lucky that my weekends at my pulpit are hard work, but also a treat: I've learned to enjoy that drive, the quiet time, and I've learned how to pray and lead prayer at the same time, how to learn while I'm teaching.
Los Angeles still doesn't feel like home -- most of my family isn't here -- but I have a growing constellation of non-HUC friends and regular acquaintences here. The brother and sister who run my favorite used book shop, the lady (and she is a lady) at the dry cleaners, several folks at my synagogue, and assorted others -- they're all friendly, familiar faces, and we are glad to see one another.
I realized, the other day, why Shammai [one of the great rabbis of pre-destruction Jerusalem] said, "greet everyone with a cheerful face." (Avot 1:15) We need those cheerful faces! Human beings are social, and we need to feel that someone (on some days, anyone) is glad to see us. When we provide that gift to one another, we let the b'tzelem Elohim --the image of God -- shine through us.