Shavuot is a holiday that celebrates the completion of a journey, both in our mytholog- ical history and in our agricultural cycle. Our biblical ancestors have journeyed from Egypt to the wilderness and are receiving Torah. Later, our ancestors in Israel celebrated Shavuot as the late spring harvest festival. Even today, many Jews recite a daily blessing as they count the Omer and acknowledge those two experiences of journeying.
In my work at Camp Laurelwood, I see the power of journeys as campers and staff return to their summer home, year after year, changed from the journey of life. It is such a blessing to bear witness to their growth, their future potential, and their impact on the Jewish world! And, just like the Circle Game song that we sing around the campfire at Camp Laurelwood, we celebrate going “round and round and round in the circle game.”
But, Shavuot is not just about the journey that has concluded. It speaks of the journey that is just emerging – the future tense of Jewish life. Standing at Sinai together, the Israelites were not at the end, but at the beginning of their experience of Peoplehood. It is a dramatic recognition that Jewish life is not lived in our history, but in our future! The story of this holiday is of a people receiving the Torah – a document that not only contains the history of our people but also the possibilities of our future.