Thursday, October 27, 2016

Reflections on the High Holy Days

I know I don't write much about faith here, but it has become more important to my daily life as I continue to grieve. I so naively believed that grief would end with the unveiling. Oh how much I had yet to learn. The tide doesn't stop just because no one is there counting it. The grief washes in and out, like the tide. And right now, the tide is high. 

Fall renewal

I started frequenting our library as I have worked to get more self care time in. I decided that reading would be the easiest. It isn't, but I've always loved it and a few extra minutes here and there is great. I went with the intent of finding a book recommended by my synagogue for the High Holy Days. Nearby on the shelf was a Life's Daily Blessings. I felt drawn to it. After flipping through, I found that each day has its own inspiration with a Jewish twist. I read today's, which was on "Sacred Speech". Essentially, G-d can realize all things across time at the same moment, and can connect two people. Words and thoughts are not static. They are not moments in time. We write it down and then the moment is captured permanently. Rabbi Olitzky wrote here "It is the acknowledgement of God's presence... that brings these words to me, that allows me to hear them, that permits them to enter my soul. Otherwise they might just be suspended in time and I would be unable to hear them at all."

In the weeks following Yom Kippur, a passage from the new Reformed siddur is still sitting with me and after reading this I immediately went back to it.

I love the synagogue and community I have found here. I grew up in a beautiful and intimidating conservative shul. I didn't go to Jewish day school and I always felt behind. Although the most spiritual Jew is rarely the one who knows the most about the prayer, I wasn't given the tools to understand the depth and breadth in front on me. The prayer books offered Hebrew and English, and for some important prayers, transliterations. But rarely real-time information on context and depth. You are meant to pray the way that the book says. I understand it and respect it. Heck, it was the only thing I knew for a long time.

The Reform prayer book however offers many tools to allow people to get what they can and want to out of the experience. I appreciate that. And in that spirit, in addition to the normal vidui (a confessional prayer that is one of the hallmarks of Yom Kippur), it included a poem for a personal vidui. I read it last year, but I forgot to go back to it. I didn't need it last year. This year I do. The traditional vidui is a list of actions we admit to God that we have done. The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are marked with apologizing to our fellow (wo)man before apologizing to God. And I like the idea of also apologizing to ourselves and marking a fresh look at self kindness.

I found this here, on Rabbi Barenblat's blog (the author).

Personal Al Chet
I need to speak these words aloud and to know that the universe hears them.
I get caught in old patterns and paradigms; I am stubborn and hard-headed.
In the last year I have missed the mark more than I want to admit.
Forgive me, Source of all being, for the sin I have sinned before you
By allowing my body to be an afterthought too often and too easily;
By not walking, running, leaping, climbing or dancing although I am able;
By eating in my car and at my desk, mindlessly and without blessing;
By not embracing those who needed it, and not allowing myself to be embraced;
By not praising every body's beauty, with our quirks and imperfections.
By letting my emotions run roughshod over the needs of others;
By poking at sources of hurt like a child worrying a sore tooth;
By revealing my heart before those who neither wanted nor needed to see it;
By hiding love, out of fear of rejection, instead of giving love freely;
By dwelling on what's internal when the world is desperate for healing.
By indulging in intellectual argument without humility or consideration;
By reading words of vitriol, cultivating hot indignation;
By eschewing intellectual discomfort that might prod me into growing;
By living in anticipation, and letting anxiety rule me;
By accepting defeatist thinking and the comfortable ache of despair.
By not being awake and grateful, despite uncountable blessings;
By not being sufficiently gentle, with my actions or with my language;
By being not pliant and flexible, but obstinate, stark, and unbending;
By not being generous with my time, with my words or with my being;
By not being kind to everyone who crosses my wandering path.
For all of these, eternal Source of forgiveness
Help me know myself to be pardoned
Help me feel in my bones that I'm forgiven
Remind me I'm always already at/one with You.

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