Finding Meaning in the Moment

by Cantor Eric Schulmiller

When I came into my office, it was sitting on my desk – a tiny, red, invitation to creativity: a pocket-sized Etch A Sketch. My thank-you to Adrienne for the amazing Chanukkah gift was a drawing of a sloth – the official animal of Gan Shalom Shabbat. Every weekend since then, I’ve taken a few moments of my day to twist the tiny knobs of fate and hope for the best as I shaped my weekly Shabbat shalom sketch. I would post the finished results to Facebook, and it’s been very gratifying to see people’s reactions to these sketches.

I’ve always enjoyed using an Etch a Sketch – I had a fantasy in my younger days of opening an Etch a Sketch museum in San Francisco, since the likelihood of an earthquake would engender a certain sense of impermanence to the art hanging on the walls. And trying to draw using those two dang knobs makes every act of creation feel like walking on a tightrope. There’s no way to erase a part of the drawing if a mistake is made – with an Etch a Sketch, it’s all or nothing. And there’s no picking up the pencil or brush to continue the composition in another part of the canvas – once you begin, you continue a single line until the work is done. And the only way to start again is to pick up the canvas and shake it until nothing remains but a blank slate.

I’ve enjoyed these weekly flurries of creativity – they’ve become a spiritual practice, in a way. They are a reminder to step outside of my comfort zone, take a few risks, live for the present moment, and not be afraid to shake things up and start over.  May you each find a way to connect with your own inner risk-taker, artist, mover, and shaker!

Cantor Eric Schulmiller