burning into the new year


Yom Kippur and me, we have a history.

Yom Kippur is both my favorite and my least favorite of all the Jewish holy days.

I love the purity of it, the drama, the holiness that lifts us up. I love the community aspect (we are all sinners) and I love that Judaism has a tradition of figuring out what "sin" means to each community. The history of debate, the history of figuring it out - carried into this new era, where a blond, dreadlocked, Swedish/Norwegian/Scottish by birth Jew can have her own relationship to the One - yes, that is why I converted. (One of a thousand reasons.)

And then there's the fasting.

I don't fast easily. I know that is actually the point ("the fast that pleases me") but oh my, is it hard.

By the end of the day, I feel like I am burned away until all that is left are ashes.

This isn't the greatest analogy, because eventually I get a second wind and can actually move again. I always forget about that until it happens, and then I am surprised. (It helps that I take a nap every year, but the second wind comes hours after the nap.)

I'm not sure I can say fasting brings me closer to G-d. I don't feel like there is a divide between me and the One (everything is One, really; no divide, just Oneness). On the other hand, fasting brings me an awareness of exactly how much I am grateful for. Food to eat. Water to keep me hydrated. The "basics" that I could easily take for granted but which aren't granted to much of the world.

We have an obligation to meet, those of us who are given those basics. Are we meeting it? I don't think we are. I know I can do better, personally. The fast that is pleasing is the fast that gives us the fuel to do more, to find more ways to help repair the world, to help ensure more people have the basic necessities.

And so I go brightly into the New Year, grateful beyond gratitude for food and water, for my health (such as it is) and for my life, my beautiful, messy, wonderful wabi sabi life.

May I use my beautiful life to help you, especially the "you" who can't read this because of lack of access. May I do more to help, this year. May I use what is given to me wisely.

And may I live. Really live. Because that is the point, isn't it?