Tonight is Kol Nidre, which starts Yom Kippur and marks the beginning of the end of the Yamim Noraim -- the Days of Awe.
Jews use these Days of Awe for introspection and spiritual cleansing.We reflect on those we have hurt and how and we traditionally ask forgiveness to the ones we have harmed, especially to family and friends.
And on Yom Kippur, we are ritually forgiven, for the transgression we have committed against ourselves and against G-d.
But we Jews don't have a monopoly on this forgiveness thing. Everyone, everywhere needs forgiveness. (And not just on Yom Kippur!) This process of making amends and granting and being granted forgiveness is a ongoing one. Yom Kippur just reminds us of the process and ritualizes it for effect. You don't have to be Jewish to learn the lessons Yom Kippur offers.
We are human. We make mistakes. We hurt each other and we hurt ourselves.
Any time you return to yourself, to your basic goodness, you have the right to forgive yourself.
But forgiveness for the harm you have done to another person can only come from the one you have harmed. You cannot be forgiven unless you ask for forgiveness and pledge not to continue harming the other person. No one is going to forgive someone who is still hurting them. That's not noble, that's masochistic.
Unless you acknowledge what hurt you have caused, by your actions and your inaction, and have an awareness of how to end the cycle, you cannot be forgiven. If you do not have a basic awareness of the pattern of your life, you can't know who you have hurt. If you are sleepwalking, you cannot see the pain around you.
The answer is to wake up.
There is still time for awareness. There is always time for awareness, until the very end of our lives, but since we don't know when that will be, wake up right now if you can. (Waking up is a life long process, so I take it for granted that I'll have to wake up every day, every moment, until I no longer can.)
Wake up! Hear the sound of your heart (the shofar) and wake up. You are human. You are amazing and beautiful and scary, with great days and not so great days. You are human. It is ok.
Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Ask for forgiveness. Be present in your own life by being conscious. Be aware of your actions and your misdeeds and wake up to the things you are doing right, too.
Forgiveness is all around, if you pay attention and ask for it. Love is everywhere.
Right here. Right now. Bring awareness to the present moment and be awake in your own beautiful life.