In our series, Harvest Joy, The Feast of Booths or Sukkot was the perfect occassion for his artistic midrash on the ancient scripture:
Now, the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall keep the festival of the Lord, lasting seven days; a complete
rest on the first day, and a complete rest on the eighth day. On the first day you shall take the fruit of majestic trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a festival to the Lord seven days in the year; you shall keep it in the seventh month as a statute for ever throughout your generations. You shall live in booths for seven days; all that are citizens in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
After building the succah with a little help from friends, Henry Braun and Gary Nichols, Willard went on to reflect on the Hebrew tradition, making tents and forts in the summers of his childhood, the old indigenous way of hunter gatherers living with the land, and the plight of those who live in temporary shelters as the result of having no home.
“The three obligation of Sukkot are to live in a succah, to wave the luvlav in all the directions, and be joyful….I think just making a sukkah, decorating it, sitting in it, and eating some simple food is a good first step toward remembering – remembering what has been the vast legacy of our forgotten existence – our legacy of joy.”
The children shared in watching Willard’s creation and making their own succah’s from popsicle sticks. Now maybe they have a small part of the ancient memories that also shaped Jesus – before he headed into the wilderness on his own for forty days.