Yom Kippur is designed to deepen our capacity for self-reflection: some of us fast, abstain from physical relationships, or dress in white like a burial shroud. As we do, we rehearse the death of the old year, the old self. According to our tradition, in order to begin a new time, we need to release everything from the old time. If we want to enter a new chapter in our lives then we must first let go of what we have been, or thought we would be. Before we can return to God, we must first relinquish everything we have said (or been) and everything we expect to say (or be).Read More
I recently spoke with a friend of mine about our college days. I told him I e-mailed someone we were friendly with as undergraduates. I felt like I’d been a bad friend for not staying in touch, but chose to reach out anyway. Even after 15 years, our friend was delighted to hear from me, and told me to call her anytime. My friend Keith, now an Episcopal monk, said our relationship with old friends is like our relationship with God: many of us come to believe God doesn’t want to hear from us, that we’re, say, “bad Jews”. We often wait until we’re in a desperate situation to reach out. But the Psalmist counsels us: "Seek out the Source and you will find It / Call to the Divine Presence, and It will be close." When we decide to return, God, like an old friend, eagerly waits at the door to welcome us back home.Read More
We are completing the journey from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur. These ten days are a meditation on what we do between birth and death: Rosh Hashanah is yom harat olam, the Day the World Is Born. And Yom Kippur is the day we rehearse our death by abstaining from life-affirming activities, and wearing white to represent a burial shroud. Between these two days, we confront the fragility of our lives – and reexamine how we want to journey across the length of our days.Read More
In the commencement speech she gave at Sarah Lawrence in 2006, Ann Patchett observes:
Every choice lays down a trail of bread crumbs, so that when you look behind you there appears to be a very clear path that points straight to the place where you now stand.
But when you look ahead there isn’t a bread crumb in sight — there are just a few shrubs, a bunch of trees, a handful of skittish woodland creatures. You glance from left to right and find no indication of which way you’re supposed to go.
And so you stand there, sniffing at the wind, looking for directional clues in the growth patterns of moss, and you think, What now?