I say first reflections in that I began to have them earlier in the week.... We've had a couple of half-minyan services this week since the snowstorm. Taking time for the maariv prayers, I saw the first section in a bit of a new light. We praise God who "designs the day with wondrous skill" and rotates the seasons with regularity. Yet of course this week, the days have been strange and the weather unseasonal.
Surely, though, the author of this prayer was well aware that the climate and seasons vary. I can only think that he directs us, as the sun goes down on each day, to take a step back and marvel at the overall pattern behind the variations. And to see that no matter how cold or warm, how dry or wet, we experience the same rising and setting sun, the same rotation of the stars (we rotate of course, not they). What the author of the prayer sees, when the light of day is gone, is that there is something dependable even when the day that ended seems very unusual.
And then, even more importantly, the prayers don't stop there. The second section is about Torah and mitzvot. I experienced that this week as a reminder. It's tempting to let the weather sidetrack everything, to decide that complaining and getting by puts everything else on the back burner. But that's a luxury. There have been a lot of people doing a lot of mitzvot because of the snowstorm. Those electrical workers doing the dangerous work, up high and under the gun, were making our place safe again, not just convenient. People found ways to do small kindnesses, making sure the intersections were orderly or even, I read in the paper, bringing a power strip to Barnes and Noble so one person wouldn't monopolize an outlet.
And of course, I hope the week reminds us of bigger pictures -- that some people live in countries where power is unreliable all the time; that some people in our city can't afford electricity and heat in the winter; that we all use too much energy and water.
So this week I learned a new thing, about the sequences of the prayers. From the wonder at nature's rhythms and power, to the daily imperative of living wisely through mitzvot.
I hope you are safe and warm. Shabbat shalom!