Just one way of telling the tale of my last 6 weeks or so. Here is how I arrived at that number: 5 High Holiday sermons, about 1800 words each (a total of 9,000 words); 3 Shabbat sermons and 1 Sukkoth sermon, about 1200 words each (4,800 total); 7 eulogies, some 1,10o words each (7,700); plus 8 ‘bar/bat mitzvah charges’ which come in around 250 words each (total of 2,000) – all of which adds up to 23,500.
A lot of words, any way you slice it. The average number of words on the page of an average book is 250. So the 23,500 words I’ve written over the last weeks would make the first 94 pages of a book. What tale would those 94 pages tell?
Perhaps a bit about the times we live in, the anxious state of our nation, weary of a bitter (and long!) election process, fearful of clouds that grow darker on the horizon. Maybe a thing or two about the state of Jewish life in America in 2016, its challenges and bounteous blessings. Certainly the narrative of the lives of those whom I eulogized, the habits and hobbies, quirks and passions, connections and professions that made up their lives. A few things about the b’nai mitzvah, just beginning their journeys, looking out on a future that is bright and filled with possibility.
And also, I suppose, reading carefully, a thing or two about me. In part what has been on my mind, what were the thoughts that were nudging me in the fall of 2016, my concerns, worries, interests, and opinions. But also who I am. I hope that too comes through in all of those words, the thousands upon thousands of keyboard strokes, the verbs and nouns and adjectives, the sentences and paragraphs, the metaphors and textual references.
You know the old saying is a picture is worth a thousand words. That would make 23 and a half pictures. Maybe it is time to take up painting!