as the hours wind down

I can feel Yom Kippur approaching.

The turn of time is inexorable and I feel the gathering up of whispers, susurrations of lives lived and days spent, the rustle of divine fingers on the Book of Life and the Book of Death, turning pages.

My thoughts are somber, and my mood is odd. I am tired, and it is hours yet before my fast begins. I do not think that I will keep it long. Right now, I am not that strong.

It’s difficult; I don’t have a chavurah to share comfort and strength with here in Portland. As badly observant as I might have been in San Francisco, I did have a community there, and it was easier. I haven’t had the spiritual wherewithal to find and join, or make one, here. That’s on me.

But that’s not the only thing. Right now, recent events have made me consider my choices, my mistakes, and my regrets. For the most part, I am used to having a way to undo things, to change my mind and choose again. The amount of times in which I’ve done so successfully in my life is probably a little absurd. There are times, however, when you do not get a do-over, and you must learn to live with disappointment.

Right now, that’s what’s on the surface. I’ve got just enough wisdom to know that this feeling will pass, and in the great scheme of things in my life, it’s not that important. But right now, I’m tired. Probably too tired to keep my fast.

I can feel Yom Kippur approaching.

The stories the sages tell say that it’s on Yom Kippur that the Holy One seals our fates for the coming year. Our fates are decreed on Rosh Hashanah, but only on Yom Kippur do they become set. The prayers sung in between those days tell us that our actions can lessen the severity of the decree…

I don’t believe in the literal Books of Life and Death, much in the same way that I don’t believe in a literal God, but I like and believe in a message of personal agency that encourages us to turn to each other, and help one another be our best selves.

So much in this faith that I’ve chosen–and make no mistake, it’s very much a choice–revolves around that: how to be, and help others to be, our best selves. What are the right ways to act? The idea that what’s in your heart is between you and God alone–including whether you even believe in God or not–but that your actions, and more importantly, their consequences, are between you and your community, is beautiful to me.

During the Days of Awe, one does not ask forgiveness of God except for those ways we may have hurt our relationship with the divine. For everything else, for all those ways we may have hurt other people, one must ask forgiveness of those others, as that forgiveness is not God’s to grant.

Absolution is not a Jewish concept.

We carry the weight of our actions alone, or together, but we carry it nonetheless.

The thing that is so hard to understand sometimes is that it’s not meant to be a burden.

It’s gravity: and without it, we cannot dance.

I can feel Yom Kippur approaching.

I am melancholy and mad with myself, and feel (unusual for me) uncomfortable in my own skin. It’s not Yom Kippur that makes me feel this way, but Yom Kippur is making me think and articulate my thoughts. I feel weak, and I do not like it! Sunset is hours away, and yet my monkey shell is already cracking.

I am tired, and I cannot hold fast.

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