Sunday, October 2nd, 2016
DAYS OF AWE
I am not Jewish but I have always been attracted to and by the High Holy days of Rosh Hashanah followed ten days later by Yom Kippur. I first learned about them when visiting a Synagogue on an ecumenical field trip of some sort from my Methodist Church when I was in sixth grade. I was more interested in holding hands with my boy crush of the week but I impressed and intrigued by the rituals and preparation for The Days of Awe.
Let’s talk ‘awe’ for a minute. We’ve forgotten what awe is, as we call everything ‘awesome’ from food to a movie. Awe is a very big deal–a kind of reverence and profundity mixed with a dash of fear leading to repentence. Methodists didn’t do much awe when I was twelve but I knew it when I saw it.
Rosh Hashanah is what New Year’s ought to be. You are held accountable.
The Book of Life is opened for the ten Days of Awe. And probably you’ve messed up quite a bit. So you have this protected and protracted time to sit yourself down and think about it. (Synagogue services are long and often during this time.) And here is the hard part and good part and the healing part; you are expected to ask people directly for forgiveness for any wrong you have done. (Maybe ten days is not enough!) Then your name goes back in or stays in the Book of Life for another year. You stand in good stead.
I like everything about The Days of Awe.
–enough time to be profound and not perfunctory
–communal remembering of history and lessons learned
–fasting to remind us of the ability to reject temptation
–everyone in a community cleansing and healing at the same time
–individual and group accountability
–a sigh of relief and a renewed commitment to do and be better.
I always ask forgiveness for any wrong I may have done during the past year of my Jewish friend Eileen during The Days of Awe. It feels great good to do it. Out loud.
Think if we took time for awe and accountability and forgiveness in a systematic way with our families. ‘Awesome’ would be the right word.