turning towards loving-kindness


Between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we (Jews) ask for forgiveness. For the wrongs that we have done, to others, we ask them to forgive us. (And we forgive the wrongs against us.)

And then comes Kol Nidre, which is a release from all the vows that we might have made in the last year. 

This way, we go into Yom Kippur with as blank a slate as possible. 

And still we have more to release. Because Yom Kippur is about community, about acknowledging that what happens to one of us, happens to all of us. And so we recite prayers asking for forgiveness for the sins we have committed and the sins others have committed, because when any one misses the mark (which is the Jewish definition of sin - a very different definition than the Christian definition), we have all missed the mark. 

If love is our aim, then missing the mark is anytime we don't choose love. 

(Flipping off the SUV that cut us off in traffic counts. Even if that person scared us silly. Meeting fear with hate only breeds hate.)

And then, only then, after we remember that the sins of everyone are indeed our own sins, and after a day of fasting (or not fasting, or partial fasting, depending on your ability), then we are reminded that we are forgiven. Every one of us. Even those who did not know to ask. Because we are all One. 

Forgiven and loved. It was there all along. We give ourselves space to remember it, once a year, on the holiest of holy days. 

I'm a very liberal (and mystical) Jew, so I don't see this forgiveness as including only Jews. What happens to anyone on this planet, in this universe (or elsewhere) happens to me. Everything that is, is part of the All. Part of the One. Including me. 

We all need to ask for, and be given, forgiveness. 

And we all need to remember to aim towards love. 

And it's this awareness of Oneness, of forgiveness and finding the right aim, that is the reason Yom Kippur is my very favorite holy day. 

Yom Kippur reminds me we are all one. Whether we fast, or don't fast (or can't fast), we're all one. No matter whether it's acknowledged or not. One. 

Every moment, we have the chance to hit the mark (do something awesome/ right/ kind). To bring more love into the world. Every moment. Even the thoughts you think about your own body can breed love (or hate). Every moment. 

And absolutely, we all miss the mark sometimes, too (we are human) but every moment is a moment to turn back (this is the meaning of "repent" in Judaism, which again, is very different than the Christian definition). Each moment we can turn (repent) and choose love. 

Aiming towards love is as simple as smiling at a stranger. As not telling yourself you hate your belly. Not driving recklessly. Not taking someone else's recklessness personally. There's an infinite amount of ways to choose love. 

On this, the afternoon before Yom Kippur, I am hoping we'll all hit the mark and choose love more in this coming year. May we bring more kindness and peace into the world, instead of tearing it further apart with hate. 

If you fast on Yom Kippur, may you have an easy fast. 

If you don't fast on Yom Kippur, may you have an easy not-fasting. 

(And inbetween, too, which is where I am, recovering from a respitory illness as I head into the holiest day.)

Any way, may you be reminded of our Oneness and what it is you are aiming towards. 

Any way, may you remember that asking for forgiveness, and giving it, is one of the best ways to begin turning towards love.