Endurance within Endurance
Tonight (Tuesday night) at sundown, we begin the day of endurance squared: the day of endurance within the week of endurance.
Today I share an excerpt from “Ulysses,” by Alfred Lord Tennyson. This poem always makes me think of the voyage of the Endurance — Ernest Shackleton’s ship from the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in the early years of the 20th century.
The Endurance was caught in pack ice en route to the continent and was slowly crushed. Her crew spent months camped on ice floes after the ship went down; then took to their lifeboats and found their way to rocky and inhospitable Elephant Island. Shackleton and five others then traveled 800 miles, in an open boat, through the worst seas in the world, to reach South Georgia — where they had to climb a mountain range in order to reach the island’s inhabitants on the far side. The whalers there helped Shackleton return to Elephant Island and rescue the remainder of his crew. Despite unthinkable hardship and against incredible odds, everyone survived.
What an amazing tale of endurance. May these lines of verse inspire our own endurance in our own lives.
There lies the port: the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d and wrought, and thought with me–
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads–you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
— Alfred Lord Tennyson
As I count the Omer, let my counting create a tikkun, a healing, between transcendence and immanence, God far above and God deep within.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ רוּחַ הַעולָם, אָשֶר קִדשָנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ אַל סְפִירַת הַעמֶר.
Baruch atah, Adonai, eloheinu ruach ha’olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, breath of life, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.
This is twenty-five days, which are three weeks and four days, of the Omer!