BLESSING THE SEA – ISSUE 15, June 2022 “Exits and Beginnings”

Flipping the tassels © Lane Igoudin, 2018

Ascend towards the heights, ascend!
For you have the strength. You have wings of the spirit, of mighty eagles.
Do not deny them, or they will deny you.
Seek them out, and you will find them instantly.

Rav Kook “Lights of Holiness”

Happy Fathers’ Day, Dear Friends!

I am delighted to share with you a new piece reflecting on my daughter’s high school graduation, distributed today by Family Equality, the national LGBTQ family organization, as its Father’s Day feature.

In a way, not only our daughter, but also we as a family, and myself as a parent, have passed an important milestone.

Exit is the climax of a story, and yet we don’t always pay enough attention to it, preoccupied with what’s to come while overlooking what has ended. Noticing exits, good or bad, and recognizing them with rituals is at the center of a book by the brilliant Harvard sociologist Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot. (Her best book, in my opinion.)

In a somewhat different take, the Vipassana teacher Sylvia Boorstein muses in a recent article in Lion’s Roar on the juxtaposition of “Congratulations, Grad!” cards next to seed packets at supermarkets as a metaphor that “in the truth of what has ended, I see displays of what might be beginning.”

Do you know that one of the 5 commandments required of a Jewish father is to teach his child to swim? (Kiddushin 29A). For the record, I fulfilled this mitzvah when my daughters were toddlers. But why swimming, and not some other physical activity or sport? One Dad’s story in Kveller offers an explanation.

I’ve recently reorganized my website to separate out my articles on writing craft and resources into a new ‘Lit Tools’ section. One of them is a new resource for my ESL students on English euphemisms and PC substitutions.

Native English speakers take for granted avoidance strategies for delivering bad news or referring to potentially offensive topics, but they are not cross-cultural. In fact, euphemisms are often puzzling and exasperating to the English learner in their indirectness.

Wishing you all a summer of meaningful exits and great beginnings,

-Lane


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