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Last night at sunset, on the night of the new moon — the time when we return to promordial darkness — the High Holy Day of Rosh Hashanah began. It is the Jewish New Year and begins the ten days of awe ending with Yom Kippur.  It is a time of introspection, of reflecting on the year that has past, a time to consider how you have wronged others and to seek forgiveness. 

In my yoga class yesterday morning, my teacher began with a meditation in honor of this time.  We were asked to think back on the year that had passed and ask ourselves if there was someone with whom we were unkind or caused some harm through our words or actions, someone whom we might need to ask forgiveness.  Then we were asked to reflect on who has hurt us this past year, to whom we might need to offer forgiveness.

I was surprised at the people that came to mind in that space of silence.  I offered the peace that my yoga class brought to me back to them, both the person I have wronged and the person who has wronged me.  They were connected to me and to each other in that moment, enmeshed in the human web of brokenness and longing for wholeness. In that space some healing began.

I invite you to take a few moments of your day to join with our Jewish sisters and brothers and reflect on the places in your life that need some forgiveness extended. When have you wronged someone?  For what do you need to ask forgiveness?  How have you been wronged?  Is it possible right now to extend forgiveness for these hurts?

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

(photo taken at Golden Gardens beach last Saturday)

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5 Responses

  1. Tess, yes indeed, allowing ourselves to be forgiven is often the hardest part of all.

    Rebecca, your combination of celebrations and practices sounds delightfully life-giving.

    kigen, I appreciate your comment about immersing oneself in something “activating” as a way of embracing forgiveness — either receiving or offering.

    If I ever convert to another faith tradition, it will likely be Judaism, I have always had a love affair with their rituals and practices!

  2. If there’s an overpowering need to forgive or to be forgiven, I try to put myself to work on something absorbing and peaceful, and then after a while, I no longer have the need to be angry or to be forgiven, and that makes room for things to heal themselves. The art of it though centers on the choice of what to throw oneself into, it has to be a good choice, it has to be something, kind-hearted in spirit (like Yoga, yes!), and truly activating.

  3. I always celebrate this holy season, ever since I discovered this one particular book by a Rabbi that I read years ago that returned me to being comfortable with God after I had unaccountably become uncomfortable during many years of exploration and inquiry. I’ve always loved the idea of ten days of awe. And I see no reason why I can’t celebrate this season as well as advent and daily pray the LovingKindness prayer/chant.

  4. A beautiful meditation indeed, and I think sometimes we need to ALLOW ourselves to be forgiven. I suspect sometimes I hang on to guilt because it feels safer. It’s a fine balance. In this context of forgiveness of self and others I also like the Buddhist concept of Loving Kindness.