Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Repentance and joy

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. While I am not a deeply observant Jew, I do pay attention to the big holidays; I'm maybe one step up from a Christmas and Easter Christian, if that makes any sense at all.

I spent 4 hours in Temple yesterday, praying in community for forgiveness for our sins over the past year. Part of what moves me about this service is that we do it all together; no one person has to claim responsibility for their own sins, we all claim responsibility for everyone's sins. Sure, each individual knows what they did, but since we're all doing it together it becomes much easier to name the unfortunate acts and move on from there. By the end of the day the slate is clean; we have a chance to try again and try better in the coming year.

We are asked to try to forgive others for those acts they may have committed against us. The things that have hurt us. Coming into Yom Kippur this year I found that I was carrying around a couple of hurts that I really needed to work to let go of. It was hard. Ultimately, I found I needed to forgive myself for clinging onto these wrongs before I could let go of the wrong itself; once that was done it became much easier to move on.

We all do this, of course. We all hold onto little grudges that become giant boulders on our backs. It's not worth it. I don't need to love the people who have hurt me, I only need to not hold onto the hurt they inflicted and allow them to move through the world as I move through the world, doing the best I can. As I will.

At the end of Yom Kippur, a fast day, I broke my fast with friends and family. I wrote about it here. I believe everything tasted so much better, the figs were sweeter and the wine richer, not because I was hungry, but because I'd let go of some of my bitterness. It seems a shame that this is something I practice only once a year, maybe this will be the year that I remember to try more often. Because really, life is much richer if I only carry my own baggage around, I don't need anyone else's. I'll send it all off to lost luggage and instead learn how to dance.

(c) 2009 Laura S. Packer
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1 comment:

  1. I read and hear so little about observance of Yom Kippur despite having Jewish friends. It was interesting to see a not-highly-orthodox reflection on the ritual. Thanks for writing!


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