Saying “Ah”

Last Wednesday I was driving along Hillcrest Avenue in Thousand Oaks, on my way to pick up Emily from her job as a madricha (also known as a teaching assistant) at Adat Elohim. It had been a long day, with the usual fight with traffic coming up the 101 from Valley Glen. (Those of you who know me may ask, “What on earth were you doing in Valley Glen?” To you, I say check out Anyway, the point is that I was in automatic mode: iPhone plugged in for background music; eyes on the road ahead, periodically checking the side and rear mirrors as I drove.

And then I looked up. I mean, really looked. Before me was the most amazing sunset. All golds and pinks and purples. The kind of sunset that makes you want to stop and just stare. Coincidentally (at least, if you believe in coincidences), singer-composer Beth Schafer’s song “A Way to Say Ah” started playing on my phone. I have a playlist on my iPhone called “Songs That Inspire Me”; “A Way to Say Ah” is on it. (So, for that matter, are Jeff Klepper’s “Hold Fast to Dreams,” his and Danny Freelander’s “Modeh Ani” and “Mah Tovu,” Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” “David Friedman’s “Trust the Wind,” Michael Gore’s “I Sing the Body Electric” from the 1980 movie “Fame,” and Wynonna Judd’s “Testify to Love”–a rather eclectic list, even if I do say so myself.) They’re the songs that I play when I need a pick-me-up–those moments when I’m feeling pessimistic, worrying about the kids (How is Emily getting to Hebrew High this week? When will Danny hear from colleges?), or the latest school shooting, or Iran. Anyway, the lyrics of “A Way to Say Ah” speak of being in the moment–of remembering to thank God for being alive, and of not letting “my senses to be dulled to the wonders I will be shown.”

Sadly, I couldn’t stop and wait for the sun to finish setting. I didn’t want to keep Emily waiting. Still, I could pause at each red light to appreciate the ever-changing colors. I could marvel at this manifestation of Creation: “There was evening and there was morning…and it was very good.” I opened my window and took a couple of photos with my phone while I was waiting for the light to change. They’re not professional by any means–streetlights are on, you can see the taillights of the cars ahead of me. But they remind me to take a moment to be in the moment. And when I look at them, I remember to say “ah.”