Today marks Yom Kippur, the Jewish new year, and I FEEL so many things...
While I did grow up with Judaism as a big part of my life, we always tended toward the celebration of traditions rather than the worship of God. Our community was not large, I really only had two other Jewish friends growing up and these two special boys remain close to my heart after all these years. Today I received a phone call from one of them, our conversation epitomizes what the meaning of Yom Kippur is to me. In the Jewish tradition, this day is traditionally marked with fasting, as a symbolic sacrifice to our sins of the past year. One thing I have always loved about this day is that when we talk about atoning for the sins of our past, we aren't so much referring to sins committed against a God. Even more importantly we are talking about the sins against others in our lives, and especially ourselves...This day marks a time when we should look inward, ask ourselves questions about how we lived our lives in the past year, and look forward to doing things differently the next time around. When J called me, he simply wanted to tell me he loved me, that over the past year he remembered me sending texts and leaving short voice mails that I was thinking of him, sending love, and hoping all was well in his corner of the universe. His point was that he realized that it made him feel so great to receive these messages from me, and that he was sorry he didn't always respond, that he wanted to be better about letting the people he cares about know that he cares...And that he's going to be working toward that in the next year. He said he appreciated the time I took to let him know he was in my mind and in my heart, and that if he could do the same for me and for other people in his life, that he would feel awesome about it!
Since moving to Hawaii I feel so disconnected from my "tribe", I love the sense of community that comes with practicing the same traditions year after year with the same people. I suppose it's time to start my own traditions with Jo, to teach her the little bit that I know, and to make the time to do the little things that add up to marking these special days...but I feel like I don't know where to begin. Every year for my whole life I participated in the various traditions of Jewish holidays, and since I've been here, I have done barely anything...It would be like if you moved away from home, settled somewhere else, and never put up your Christmas tree!!!! Wouldn't you feel like something was missing? I guess that's it, I feel like I'm missing out on something...
Today "my people" all over the world are gathering for dinner to break the fast, to talk about how they want to improve themselves for the coming year, mending relationships with loved ones, and reflecting on experiences and interactions. I think writing this post is the beginning of my thinking about bringing some Jewness back in to my life. I want to light candles, make dinner for the people I love, and say a few words in Hebrew to mark the special days on the calendar. There is almost zero Jewish community here in Hawaii, and what is here seems very organized and traditional. In Seattle and other places I have lived/visited there were all kinds of groovy Jews getting together outside the "normal" synagogue setting. In New Mexico when I was in massage school I used to go to gatherings with a group of hippy, natural healing type Jews. In Berkley I met an amazing group of people who were liberal in their social politics, knowledgeable in their Jewish history and religion, yet extremely reform in their practice. In Seattle there were awesome groups of Jewish gays that got together for huge communal meals to celebrate the special days, as well as to form their own reform communities beyond the traditional place of worship. Up until now I seemed to be dwelling on the fact that that kind of thing doesn't exist here...enough of that! Moving forward I need to make my own community, even if it is only a community of 2 people (me and Jo, she's so open to learning about all of it, I just haven't done anything about it).
This post ended up being much longer and more detailed than I thought, but I guess that's just part of the process of looking back. Along with making a commitment to bringing Jewish back, I've got a list of things to work on, mostly relating to the way I think about myself. Coincidentally this comes at the same time a lovely lady whom I hope I can call a friend, blogged about a topic that covers some of the thoughts in my head. Among the discussion is the theme of authenticity, self-love, and the desire to be the truest ME i can be. So, here's my brain dump on the topic of looking back and looking forward...
1. Cease and desist with comparing myself to others and their perceived life situation
2. Be more kind to myself, in thoughts and actions
3. KNOW that I am RAD
4. Do not fear...the trying, the doing, the wearing, the being, the asking, just do not FEAR
5. Speak my mind, and do not regret it later
6. Stop with the "I wish I could/would/did/have"
7. When I dream of something big, know that I CAN make it happen
8. Leave doubt out
9. Try things that scare me
10. Do not fear the future, do not compare to the past
There are many many more things swirling around in my brain, and I have no doubt I will fail at some of them, but my message to myself is that in simply putting it down in words, or recognizing the thoughts, I have already succeeded. All I have to do is remain aware, and remember to remain aware...I know this will not be easy.
Thanks for lending an ear, or an eye to these words...Here's to moving forward, recognizing the change we want, and working toward it every day.