Published in the Jewish Journal blog “Inspired and Expired,” September 14, 2016

My minister colleague passed into the next world recently. I had only known her about six months, and yet, we had become quite close. The depth we’d reached in our relationship in such a short time was partly because of who she was and her beautiful neshama or soul. Read more

At least twice a week I take a walk with a friend. We pass a school and often hear laughing children at recess. We enter a wood that lets out onto a clearing, and the children’s voices fade away. Occasionally a red tailed hawk is perched on a branch over our heads or soars hunting over the field. The crows caucus loudly, and I hope for a flock of bluebirds that turn iridescent in the morning light. Back in the woods there are some houses. One has an impressive garden in which an orange fruit, perhaps a persimmon, clings to its branches even as the temperatures drop. Another’s breezeway gives us a glimpse of the ocean we’ll encounter full on a little ways ahead. Sometimes the waves come over the seawall, the spray chilling our faces with 30 mile an hour winds. Sometimes we see all the way to the mainland. We walk along a road that winds along a pond. Once we stood there for half an hour routing traffic around a box turtle making its daily pilgrimage from the wetlands on one side of the road to the pond on the other. But these last few months we’ve been marking the decay of a skunk. At first it shocked us, its blood staining the ground. The blood seemed still to be running, so freshly dead it was on those first sightings. Hungry crows eventually carried its viscera and part of its carcass down into the swamp. But they’d left the skunk’s head, tufts of fur, skeletal detritus and the depression it had made in the ground. Then the snow covered it all, but we still stopped to talk about the skunk, because there is always a lesson for us. The snow has since melted, yet we still see the skunk, the pieces, the whole, its shadow. Three yards on we stand at the edge of the pond counting geese or mallards, marveling at the light, watching a swan feed, looking across to the sea. Read more