Shelter.

The current Jewish festival of Sukkot is supposed to get us out of the “permanent” structures in our lives and into temporary dwellings we build from wood and pipe and branches. We’re supposed to come to understand that permanent is in quotation marks – that while we spend so much of our lives building and filling massive physical structures, when we get outside of our lives (of ourselves), all we really need is food and family and the simplest roof over our heads.

This year historic flooding and epic rainfall (to use two of The Weather Channel’s favorite words right now – both, I dare say, actually appropriate) have sent all of us in Charleston back into our more permanent structures. And, while we might miss the unique observances Sukkot affords – the smell of the etrog, the blinking stars through the bamboo – holing up with nothing but found time for good books, family films and home-cooked food as the rain continues to fall… well, it’s awfully nice, too.

Then I get this email from a friend who serves as minister at a congregation in North Charleston:

“I just received a call from a friend of mine who works with the homeless under the overpasses. With the rain today and the next few days they are concerned with their safety. Do you have the space to allow people to stay dry? I know that it is a lot to ask. If there is any possibility in helping out let me know.”

Usually it’s our temporary dwellings during Sukkot that inspire us toward greater gratitude for the blessings we have in our lives. This Sukkot, may our permanent dwellings that – please, God – are keeping us safe and dry inspire us to not only appreciate what is ours, but work to make this most basic of necessities available to all.

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