If you have ever lost a child in a crowded place, you know the raw fear. Has anyone seen a two-year-old with a blue shirt on? He has brown hair. A Gap baseball hat with green letters?
A couple of years of ago we lost our toddler in an amusement park in Israel. One second he was right in front of us, and the next thing we knew he was nowhere to be found. At first we thought he had to be at most a few feet away, and we called out his name. No response. After a minute of looking around and shouting, I began to panic. Where could he have gone? We started stopping people and asking them to help us. I fought back tears as I ran past the jumping castles and bumper cars. By then we had a small crowd circling the area and calling his name.
When I finally spotted him, I couldn’t believe what I saw. There he was, sitting in a pool of colorful, plastic balls laughing with another little boy that he didn’t even know. For a moment, I just stood there with tears of relief weaving their way down my cheeks. And then I ran and gathered him into my arms. All this time he didn’t even know that he had been lost. He didn’t know that he couldn’t just walk away on his own. He didn’t know that being separated from us was dangerous. He looked up at me in confusion when I picked him up.
“Why Mommy cry?” he asked me. Because you were lost. Because you didn’t even know that you were lost. Because you don’t realize how dangerous it is to be separated from us. But I couldn’t say any of that. I just buried my head into his soft curls and cried harder.
With Rosh Hashanah on our doorstep, I think about that moment. I realize that sometimes I, too, don’t realize how dangerous it is to be disconnected from the Source of my life. Too often I go through my days as if I’m the one writing the script. Meanwhile, He is looking for me. He sends out search parties. He calls my name. Has anyone seen her? She was here just a second ago. She doesn’t even know how to get back. She doesn’t realize that she can’t survive on her own. Why doesn’t she answer my call?
On this Day of Judgment we are all found, no matter how far away we have wandered. The King picks each of us up and gathers our lives into His arms.
And then He cries. Tekiah. The shofar. Why is the King crying? The wailing gets louder and louder. It speaks through the power of its wordlessness. Your life is on the line. Why don’t you call out to me?
Shevarim-Teruah. Your job. Right now it’s being described and set for the next year, down to every penny that you will earn. Tell me what you need.
Tekiah. Your health is being written out now, every single detail of how you will feel every day. Wake up.
Shevarim. Your children, your family, everything that you care about is being decided today. And I am waiting for you to call out to Me. Don’t you hear me calling your name? Don’t you hear my cry? Where are you?
“On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed… who will live and who will die… who will rest and who will wander...”
Today is the beginning of time. Today we remember and are remembered. Today we see that we did not create ourselves, and that we cannot survive on our own. A recent photo in the newspaper showed Israelis trying on gas masks. The masks looked so strange, almost like alien costumes. But then I realized that putting on a mask to breathe is a lot less strange than the miraculous reality of how we actually breathe on our own each day. We think that we are ‘just’ breathing, but really the King is creating and decreeing every single breath that we take.
We think that we have decided what we are going to be doing this year, but the Creator of the world has His own plans. Our lives are gathered in His Arms. The shofar’s weeping cradles us. We are found. We are remembered.
We are standing before the King. Our lives are on the line. Here is our chance to speak up and say: I need You. Please sustain me. Please heal me. Please bless me. I see now that I am lost. I hear You calling my name. Please give me the words. Please give me the voice. I want to answer Your call.