This year Passover brought me a powerful sense of nostalgia. In the corners of a cabinet I rarely open, I found the old tarnished and broken tea pot. And I had to make a decision – to save it or throw it out. This year my cleaning is on a roll. My family immigrated to Israel 7 ½ years ago and tried desperately to find space for all our accumulated stuff. Israeli quarters are much smaller with less storage space. I still remember sitting in my new living room after the movers arrived. Overwhelmed, with tears in my eyes, I sat surrounded by so many boxes that I had no place to move. Somehow, we stuffed too many things into too many small places and learned to live a new existence.
Little by little the stuff has diminished. Some has broken. Some I have thrown away or donated. And as my children have grown and moved out, they have taken some with them. But the teapot is another story.
I am very sentimental. My son, now twenty-three has moved out on his own to pursue his dreams. He is our only son sandwiched between three sisters. As a young child, he was very energetic and continually moving and exploring. He didn’t seem to need much sleep. (Now he makes up for it!) And he always seemed to get into mischief that was too cute; thus it was hard to get mad at him. As an example, as a very young child, he liked to stay up late at night and offer to help with the laundry or to vacuum.
One time he found our old-fashioned tea pot. It is a throwback to my childhood before microwaves and fancy coffee machines. The pot is placed on the stove to boil and it whistled when the water was hot enough for tea. Somehow in our fast-paced society I miss the simplicity of such items. I love lattes at a coffee shop. But I sorely miss the smell of coffee brewing on the stove and the sound of a whistling tea kettle.
As a young child, Akiva took the tea pot and unbeknownst to me, filled it with all types of silverware. To his delight, it offered a wonderful cacophony of sounds. To our dismay, we weren’t sure how to get the silverware out. With patience and ingenuity, we pursued and succeeded. This called for a photo of the teapot surrounded by silverware. At the time, we lived in Virginia and I wrote a regular column for the Richmond Jewish News. The photo and the story had to make it into my column.
It must now be about 25 years later. The sight of the almost forgotten tea pot brought back wonderful memories and nostalgia. But I hate to say it, the teapot has seen better days. With a sigh and my husband’s encouragement, I placed it in the trash. I am a Jungian psychologist. My work deeply focuses on the symbolic and on the gifts we place inside of ourselves. The teapot story occupies a special place inside of me amongst the magic of childhood. It is more than willing to be coaxed out again. Akiva, as a young adult, is still energetic and busy and creative. Thankfully he has moved beyond silverware and teapots.
This Passover he is serving as the “rabbi” of Guam. With a close friend, he is creating programs for the Jews on the islands in the area. This includes a first ever interfaith Seder on Sunday night followed by what is now an annual event; two community Seders on Monday and Tuesday nights. He is discovering lost Torah scrolls and connecting to all types of Jews. He creates all types of programing such as community barbeques prior to Kabbalat Shabbat.
We will miss Akiva, and I think I will miss the teapot. As I spring clean in my house and my soul, I find myself reflecting on the message of Passover. Each year we are given the charge to once again experience our own exodus from the narrow straits of ancient Egypt. While the Exodus was a collective event, we are charged to personally experience the journey. To my mind, this is a crucial piece of the holiday. We are all part of a collective as fellow Jews and fellow human beings. Our slavery and freedom is tied up in each other’s tragedies and successes. Yet, we also must embark on our own path.
Akiva’s began with teapots and silverware and it led him to Guam for the holiday. Mine led me from America to Israel and to a second half of life journey as a stranger in a strange land. Passover is a time of stories. I treasure my memories and my stories. I can place the teapot in the trash and still hold onto the deep meaning of the moments.
P.S. I am excited. As I embark on my Seder experience, I will be accompanied by the new Harry Potter Haggadah. In this I will create new memories.