This week: Days of AweEdited by: Sophy
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Hi, I'm Sophy ~ your editor for this edition of the Spiritual Newsletter.
The Rev. Scotty McLennan, author of the book Finding Your Religion, compares humanity's innate need for spiritual searching to climbing a mountain. In his view, we are all endeavoring to climb the same figurative mountain in our search for the divine, we just may take different ways to get there. In other words, there is one "God," but many paths. I honor whatever path or paths you have chosen to climb that mountain in your quest for the Sacred.
May Your Name Be Inscribed in the Book of Life
Rosh Hashanah begins this coming Friday evening (September 18), marking the beginning of the New Year on the Jewish calendar, and a time to reflect on one’s life the past year. Within Judaism, as Rosh Hashanah begins it is believed that our destinies for the coming year are written in the Book of Life. The Book remains open for ten days, referred to as the “Days of Awe” during which time the blessing, “L’Shana Tovah – May Your Name Be Inscribed in the Book of Life” is offered. These “Days of Awe” offer an opportunity to reflect on what one has done with their life over the past year – focusing in particular on occasions one has “missed the mark” and caused harm to others.
During these holy days, people of Jewish faith are called to hold themselves accountable and repent for any wrongdoings. Through these actions they become “at one” with themselves and God – so that at the last sound of the blowing of the ram’s horn, or Shofar, on Yom Kippur – or the Day of Atonement – when the Book of Life for the coming year is sealed, followers have returned to “right relationship” with all of Creation. Neil Gillman of the Jewish Theological Seminary explains its significance: “This festival has evolved through our tradition to represent a season of personal and universal renewal. Every human being needs an opportunity to begin again, to wipe out the past and dream dreams about what his or her life can become. We say goodbye to the old time and hello to the new. In the process we say goodbye to our old selves and hello to our new ones.”
Whether or not one is Jewish (which I am not), these holy days can offer a time of meaningful reflection because the ideas and truths behind them are universal. Two-thirds of Jesus’ teachings were about forgiveness, and at least a third of his parables were about forgiveness, directly or indirectly. It was clearly an important issue for Jesus as a Jew and a Rabbi. I find Rosh Hashanah, the Days of Awe, and the culmination of Yom Kippur to be meaningful and life-giving. I appreciate the period of time set aside to intentionally seek out those with whom one has experienced a broken relationship during the previous year in order to make amends, to clean up the hurts, to heal the divisions that separate and find atonement – becoming at one – with each other and with the Sacred. Doing so annually, past hurts don’t go on indefinitely, and there is a rhythm and regularity to making things right. Of course we can and should set things right all year, but this time of year offers an opportunity to ritually return to our truest and best selves through a journey of rediscovery during the Days of Awe, inviting inward reflection and self-evaluation to consider the wrongs we have committed and where we have missed the mark over the past year.
And, as it turns out, forgiveness is not only good for us spiritually, it can also have powerful health benefits. Observational studies and even some randomized trials suggest that forgiveness is associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and hostility; reduced substance abuse; higher self-esteem; and greater life satisfaction. Yet, forgiving people is not always easy. One way to get more comfortable with forgiveness is to practice small acts in everyday life, says Dr. Tyler VanderWeele, co-director of the Initiative on Health, Religion, and Spirituality at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. For example, if someone is rude or cuts you off in traffic, use that moment to recognize the wrong, realize it wasn’t directed at you personally, and forgive him or her on the spot. “This way you also can learn to immediately stop the negative reaction and the feelings that come with it,” says Dr. VanderWeele. (From https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/the-power-of-forgiveness)
Small acts of forgiveness can help lead to forgiveness of larger issues, and perhaps even open our eyes to seeking forgiveness for the wrongs we have done to others. During these Days of Awe, as you forgive someone or seek forgiveness, may your name be inscribed in the book of life.
Below you'll find some spiritual offerings from other WDC members. Please let the folks know if you read their piece by leaving a thoughtful comment or review. If you have something you would like me to highlight, please do share it with me, thanks!
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Here are the responses to my last newsletter "Spiritual Newsletter (August 19, 2020)" about "Turning 60:"
From Write 2 Publish 2020
If one doesn't change one doesn't mature. As with the characters in our stories we need to accept change. While my beliefs haven't changed, my understanding of the Bible and how it helps me to change is more valuable to me. I'm bit older than you and looking closer to the 70 mark. What do I want as I get closer to that 70 mark? To get closer to God and on the material side to get two more books published. What will I have to change to get to that goal?
Good observations and questions - thank you for sharing.
From Jay O'Toole
Happy Birthday, Sophy! You turned 60 last week. I guess I'll know how it feels when I turn 60 next week.
Happy Birthday to both of us August babies of 1960.
Like you said I hope your celebration was all, that you needed it to be. The virus has certainly changed our ability to do all we wish we could do for such a significant birthday.
May the Lord turn our focus to Him since He is more than able to encourage us in days like these as no other human ever could. (Philippians 2:13)
Happy Belated Birthday to you and thank you for your wise words!
Happy Belated Birthday, Sophie!
I could bet on it that of most anyone I know, you would be the one who wouldn't sweat the small stuff.
I think my mind handles small or big stuff much better than when I was younger, even though the body rebels from time to time. Finally, my mind is accepting my motto, "This, too, shall pass," Global Pandemic or whatever. Not that I am minimizing what is happening, but I am hoping there is a lesson to be learned in this, somehow.
Thank you for your kind words, and for your wisdom and friendship. Blessings to you.
I was 81 in March, working on 82 every waking day. My body screams at me, "Take one day at a time, enjoy what you do with vim and vigor." I don't know how to spell those things anymore. In fact, I am, no doubt, the worse speller in the world. Thank goodness for 'spellcheck'. I actually try to keep my brain active since I can't keep my body active anymore. It seems to help when you have a sense of humor. Laugh more is my motto.
What a great motto - and attitude towards life and living. THANK YOU for sharing your wisdom.
At age 60 you are a youngster from my viewpoint. I will be 85 in January. God bless you on your great milestone.
Thank you so much for highlighting my short story
You are very welcome.
Enjoyed the post. I'm 68 and went through a lot of worry about aging. But like you said, I have to feel blessed. Thank you.
Blessings to you, and thanks for writing in.
Please keep your comments and suggestions coming! Until next time! Sophy
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