The year is 5780?
It does seem like this lifetime of mine has had many within it.
No wonder I’m exhausted.
I’m a secular Jew, which to me means, I’m a cellular Jew. With a limited amount of knowledge, nevertheless the heart that beats within me is a Jewish heart; the eyes I see with are surely Jewish eyes.
Over these last few years I have attended temple from my couch, streaming holiday services from Central Synagogue in NYC. Being a cyber-participant seems to have washed me clean of old challenges, the crazy mind as it attempted to participate in a group experience without really being part of the group. Ugh. Thoughts like these interrupt the opening of one’s heart to the spiritual process unfolding:
- What do I wear?
- What time do I leave to park, in order to get a seat in the same state as the service?
- Look at that woman. Do I know her?
- Who do I sit next to?
My ancient awkwardness of not knowing much Hebrew, my inevitable impatience at the never-ending service, and so on have been plaguing.
But not now, since I have been given cyber-participation freedom.
Being on The Couch (best seat in the house), attire fluid and self-determined, one can get tea, go to the bathroom as much as one wants without tripping over strangers’ outstretched legs (just the dog’s), take notes, weep voraciously, sing happily and proudly off-key, leave, come back, yes, laundry can be folded (Surely God wouldn’t mind)
Truly I have never felt so much, received so much, learned so much as from my canine-and-human participation in cyber-temple.
And what a time it is, right here and right now.
These are the Days of Awe for us Jews, the ten days between Rosh Hashanah, the New Year (hence, 5780), and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
It is assured us that, through repentance, prayer, and charity, no matter our sins (what a word!) during this past year, we will be rewritten in the Book of Life.
You guys, what a deal. Yet at the same time, the bar is set high. There is work to do, to set the stage for the return, the recalibration, the realignment with Self, the turning back toward the authentic Self that we are, as well as the turning back to that Great Mystery, greater than all, and finally, the turning back to the Society, the people around me.
Jew or non-Jew, whoever you are, please read on.
How do we forgive ourselves and others, how do we wipe the slate clean with non-judgment, how do we return, deeper than the story, the narrative we tell ourselves?
How to return?
Teshuvah means repentance, in a wider context, it implies to return, to turn back.
I have had a year, A LIFE-CHANGING YEAR, leaving a long-term marriage, falling in love, watching that dream evaporate before my eyes, finding/creating/building a life of myself and for myself (whether I wanted it or not), perhaps for the first time, at 70. I thought I was done, that it was time to “retire” from growth.
It has hardly begun.
Suffice to say, I have much to feel, to consider, to ponder, to atone for on this Yom Kippur.
It is time to return to my authentic Self, deeper than all the story, the narrative of this past year.
It is time to return, to turn back to that Great Mystery, my spiritual partner in all this wacky humanness.
It is time to return to a more even keel, with the people around me.
I have some letters to write, some calls to make. Nothing to force, nothing to make happen, I choose to set the stage, to create the circumstances in which I can walk forward into this New Year, with an open heart, with non-judgment ignited, so that life can continue to draw me forward.
The head rabbi of Central Synagogue is my personal hero, Rabbi Angela Buchdahl. She is a rock star in my heart, a beacon of compassion, a personal cyber-hero but, oh, so real to me. Below is a link to her sermon, “Forgiveness is a Prayer” from 3 years ago. It touches me deeply. It is twenty minutes long, so, as you can, give yourself pieces of it, or all of it. She asks incredible questions, offerings soothing answers, guides us all forward toward the process of forgiveness for ourselves and for others, with relevancy and gentle strength.
Please do watch, as you can.
Dear Friends, wishing you and yours, no matter your spiritual or religious leaning, no matter the moment in which you are living, no matter the story, the narrative, of your moment—wishing you and yours a sweet New Year, a rich and ripe returning back to Self, one breath, one moment at a time.
Please keep me posted. I am firstname.lastname@example.org