Yom Kippur: Call and Response

lgtallitsketch2

Tallit sketch, watercolor by Hillary Miller

Yom Kippur: Going into the innermost room, the one we fear entering, where fire and water coexist like the elemental forces in the highest heavens our ancestors, the ancients, observed in awe.

White butterflies, with single black fingerpaint eyes on their wings dart and settle, eddy and mate over the green tangle of vines in Labor Day morning steam.

Standing wrapped in a prayer shawl, protected from the harshest judge of all–ourselves–we begin. When we come to know, to really feel and believe, that we are already forgiven, we begin.

The year grinds into ripeness and rot, grapes darkening, pears yellowing, the first Virginia creeper twining crimson, the grasses, dry straw to burn.

Where a blessing for healing brings a wash of tears and we are–I am–broken open again, remembering the many times my life began and already grieving the loved ones I will lose in the year to come. A sea of white, song rising.

The New Year rises, beckoning across the umbrellas on the sand. I begin to reconsider my life. What is the yield of my impatience? What is the fruit of my resolve?

No, love is not a result, but a cause. And in the innermost room, a rainbow appears, the peace that comes from putting things back together that had once been chaos, from confronting the turmoil in the skies and in the soul that beg for calm and color rising.

I turn from frantic white dance over the jungle of productivity and slowly a niggun slides, cold water down my throat. I rest on a leaf spotted red.

And then comes joy, the quiet joy of knowing a wedding will take place on these shores of blended families, under a chuppah of silk and sheer gratitude.

Now is the time to let the mind search backwards like the raven loosed to see what can feed us. Now, the time to cast the mind forward to chart an aerial map of the months.

My life has begun many times, and something–song, searching–has parted the waters and led me through darkness to this place, where my only prayer is for patience and spaciousness, for becoming and being, for gentle words and forgiving gestures.

The New Year is a great door that stands across the evening and Yom Kippur is the second door. Between them are song and silence, stone and clay pot to be filled from within myself.

We are worthy, you and I and the stranger besides, of forgiveness, of inscription bound and sealed in the great Book of Life that is life itself.

I will find there both ripeness and rot, What I have done and undone, What I must let go with the waning days and what I must take in. With the last tomatoes, we harvest the fruit of our lives.

And let us say, Amen.

L’shana tova, my friends and readers. Thank you for being part of my ever-expanding and beautiful circle.

ItalicsComing Up on September by Marge Piercy

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