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The Bliss Blog

Just returned from a break the fast dinner at my friends Barb and Glenn Cohen’s home. It is an annual tradition celebrating the end of the holiday of Yom Kippur during which we fast from sundown the night before to sundown the next day. As always, wonderful food was brought by the guests as well as being provided by our gracious hosts. What I enjoyed even more was chatting with the other folks there. One is Glenn’s cousin who is a medical doc. When he found out that I had a heart attack last year, he was stunned and told me he would never have known, given how well I look now. THAT is quite a compliment. We talked shop as he asked who my cardiologist is, what meds I am taking and how I taking care of myself.  I made a new friend named Tracy as we shared miracle and butterfly stories. She said she felt as if we had known each other a long time.

Glenn’s mother spoke before we ate and shared a beautiful image for us to consider, that within each one of us is a ‘secret place’ where we can talk to our Higher Power and that no one else can hold us back or bring us down if we remember that. I love that concept.

Earlier in the day, I spent time in synagogue, teaching teens in a workshop format. I wanted to make the holiday meaningful to them as we spoke about the principle idea behind Yom Kippur. It offers a reset button to allow us to have do-overs. rather than the fear filled, thou shalt not, be good or else, deprive yourself, be self critical mindset that the Judaism of my childhood exposed me to. My parents didn’t instill those teachings, but did remind me that it was a somber occasion that required certain behaviors. I view it now as sacred, but not somber. I allow it to be a time of introspection, forgiveness, making amends to myself and others and the birth of a new day. Wishing that you find your own meaning for the day as it nourishes your soul.

I think back to when I was their ages and how much of what I experienced during services wasn’t particularly meaningful. I never understood the ‘inscribed in the book of life for a good year,’ depending on behavior. People get ill, have accidents, experience loss and eventually die, because that’s life getting lifey, not because they are ‘bad people’. A good year might contain those events as well as joys and gains. I live that way, doing my best not to fear the potential losses and in eager anticipation of the juicy stuff. I focused on forgiveness, re-creating their lives, starting anew, having healthy loving relationships and setting boundaries. I wish someone would have done those kinds of activities with my friends and me when we were teens.

As my friend Sharon Pearl who is a Spiritual Director told me this morning,” The book of life is a very old metaphor, and I agree, doesn’t work well today. There are several ways that I reinterpret this for our times. First, if we see Yom Kippur as Aaron, the high priest did, as an annual housecleaning ……cleaning the pipeline between us and Spirit. Over the year, the pipeline becomes clogged and narrows due to our fears, angers, wars and conflict. The work of the high priest, and now, our work, is opening up the passageway for the energy flow to again, flow without obstruction, then the book of life becomes a symbol of how I/we can keep the flow going or….not. It’s a metaphor for choosing life affirming decisions that serve our highest good or becoming deadened by our choices that do not serve us. A slightly different way to see it is to acknowledge that sh*t happens and in spite of these losses, I/we need to keep the channel between us and Divine open. Feel free to disagree! Wishing you a meaningful holy day.”

 

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