26 Elul 5776
by Donna Wolffe
Almost out of time for inspiration and a meaningful reflection for Elul. Happily, it comes to me on Thursday, September 1. I am part of an Art Alliance group from CSUF that is traveling by bus to the Getty Center to see “The Caves of Dunhuang.” This exhibit painstakingly replicates several of the 500 Buddhist cave temples carved and painted over 1700 years ago in desert cliffs along China’s Silk Road. These temples served as a conduit for other religions (including ours), languages, technology and art for many hundreds of years.
The whole outing inspired me with connections and meaning beyond just a lovely day at the lovely Getty. I’d like to share some thoughts with you.
The two-hour morning bus trip from Fullerton to West LA was relaxing for us, but not for our bus driver, or anyone else who has to hassle long trips on freeways during rush hour. Do we remember to be thankful for people who give us good service?
The awesome Caves of Danhuang (the four on display were perfect replicas of the originals) were not only artistic and spiritual, but a revealed the human longing for peace and justice while “on the road.” Do we welcome the stranger in our midst?
A Hebrew-language scrap of parchment was on display from the “library cave”—very rare, but reinforced the presence of our forefathers in this foreign land. Do we appreciate the long history of diaspora of our people?
I navigated several levels and buildings to find one pastel by Degas on the third floor of a distant pavilion. The pastel painting was lovely, but the video explaining how pastels are created was a surprise. Do we open our eyes to the unexpected encounter right next to the one we seek?
Getting back to the group on my own was my opportunity to get lost and find a new insight. I knew our meet-up location was down and north; I didn’t know how many dead-ends I would encounter. Getting there taught me to trust my instincts. Do we fear trying an unknown path?
The vistas at the Getty are gorgeous. I was so proud to view the hillside of our Skirball Cultural Center, green and lush to the north of the Getty. Do we fully appreciate the treasures of our Jewish heritage?
Almost back to the tram meeting place, I savored a last-minute salted caramel gelato—a heavenly lunch in a little cup. Do we really enjoy an unexpected treat?
Going home was fast and fun—talking to new friends who love art, as I do. Are we open to connecting with a world of people we don’t know yet?
Baruch atah Adonai…for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season … with Echoes of Elul.