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Quail, Queens, and Quality

I really wanted an alliteration for the title, but these things are (mostly) related, I promise.

The Torah portion, along with the weather, and some things I’ve been feeling lately, have all come together to remind me of a few important points. Firstly, I must explain that I have been feeling strangely aimless. I have all of these goals and ideas but have been at a loss as to what I should do as a next step. What I have been doing no longer feels exactly right.

The weather has been stormy and the swollen, raging rivers have been literally restructuring many established paths, buildings, and hillsides around this part of Montana. Now, I don’t think God allowed all of that just for the sake of me learning some lesson, but the lesson is there nonetheless. Ironically, today, with a clearer mind thanks to an “aha!” moment yesterday evening, the weather is beautiful, calm, and sunny.

The Torah portion for this week (Beha’alotecha) mentions that a cloud of Hashem would lower itself around the tabernacle to indicate that the people of Israel should camp there for the time being, and when the cloud would raise up, the people were to break camp and follow the cloud where it led.

I realized that I have been building structures and paving roads of (subconsciously-intended) permanence, all the while preaching about fluidity, spirals, and painting with all the colors of the wind. I have had a set program in my mind of how, when, and what kind of content I would offer the world and have not once considered that there might be a time for those things to come and go. Well, the river is here to remind me that nature will swell, consume, and carve a new path despite our best laid plans. The cloud is lifting, am I going to follow?

Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), chapter 3, verses 1-8, is one of my favorite writings to reflect on and now feels like the right time to share it here:

“Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heavens. A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break and a time to build. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time of wailing and a time of dancing. A time to cast stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. A time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away. A time to rend and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”

With this, I am remembering that I am not failing by changing. I am evolving to the next version of myself and my pursuits, and I’m choosing to let the cloud lead me.

What does any of this have to do with quail, queens, and quality? Well, this week’s Torah portion also mentions the people demanding “quail” (but that’s a moral for a different time.) “Queens” is a reference to the fact that I am the appointed sovereign of my life. Sounds totally weird, maybe. But, what is a sovereign? It’s someone who holds supreme power over a limited sphere, someone who makes the ultimate decisions. The ruler. And that’s me - I hold the power to decide what I will and will not do in my life. I make the choices pertaining to myself. (This is the case for all of us.)

Finally, “quality” is about what I’m aiming for with my next phase of this giant project. There was a time for churning out quantity in the way that I have, but now is the time to focus in.

– I said the words in the title were mostly related! –

So, there you have it: a fantastic alliteration (if I do say so myself) using the uncommon letter “Q,” a weak explanation as to how they are all related, and a poorly conveyed announcement that things will be shifting a bit around here. It’s time to break camp.

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