Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Book of Travis

At some point after a number of my colleagues had left yesterday it occurred to me that Passover started at sundown last evening. Perhaps it was the gray, rain-filled skies waking up the echoes of Noah and his big boat. Perhaps it was guarding against an unexpected uptick in traffic. Either way, there was what one might call an Exodus (a little Old Testament humor) out of Parsippany in plenty of time to make the sundown deadline......considering that I made it home from the office at about 7:30 and it was still daylight.

I was raised Roman Catholic so Passover was not among the religious observances that appeared annually on our family's calendar. However, when I was in 7th grade my friend Mike invited me to his house to celebrate the Seder on Passover's first night. Thirty years later my memory of the night - while not letter perfect - is nonetheless very good.

When we sat down at the dinner table, there was a place set at what appeared to be an empty seat. And the front door of the home was open. Mike's mom explained that a place was set for Elijah and the front door was left open to permit him to enter the home, which it was apparently hoped he would do during the evening's prayers.

As the family (and their guest) gathered around the table and Mike said the prayer, a noise was heard on the front lawn. In no time at all, the noise outside moved inside and ended up in the dining room, seated in Elijah's designated chair. In Mike's home three decades ago the joyous noise came not from a being ephemeral but one canine. Bursting through the front door and landing at the empty seat around the dining room table was the family's Afghan hound. Travis was but a puppy - about a year or two old I think - but with the precision of a gymnast (or at the very least an adult Afghan hound) she bounded into the dining room, leaped towards the available seat and stuck the landing.

As Travis looked around the room - admittedly seeming far more interested in what was on the menu for dinner than the potential religious import of what she had done - the room turned stone silent. No one spoke for what seemed to be an extraordinary amount of time. Finally, Mike's grandfather did. All he said was, "The Lord certainly works in mysterious ways." All of us burst into laughter.

My one and only interaction with Passover. Thirty years later I still smile thinking about the evening. I hope that all who are celebrating Passover this year have a wonderful holiday. While I have something more than an arm's length relationship with the Almighty (whoever he may be) for those who believe I hope that there is still mystery in the night.....

....and that it is not simply confined to whether Travis is going to reprise her role as Elijah.


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