Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Days of Awe

So one of the many awesome things about working at a Jewish synagogue is that I am currently experiencing a set of very important holidays that I never knew much about nor have first-hand observed.  Yesterday was Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and a week from now is Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).  There are other holidays during this time as well, but these are the holiest.  The energy was beautiful as almost 850 people poured into the temple to celebrate, sing and pray with their community.  I was privileged to hear two incredibly beautiful and resonating sermons in the last two days, both of which provoked much thought and reflection… as I suppose good sermons are meant to do.  

Much of the feeling during these holidays is around apology (hence the ‘day of atonement’) for things you may have done or said to others in your life throughout the past year or more, which spurred me to think about exactly that.  I like to think that I’m pretty self-aware and that I put a lot of thought into what I say to others.  Of course I am also prone to speak my mind, but when it concerns interaction with others and their feelings, I tread compassionately.  But you never know.  You never know how someone may interpret your words and actions regardless of your intent.  I think about how ridiculously mean girls were and are in junior high and high school.  I had countless experiences being the verbal victim of girls that for some reason thought it was their place to say incredibly rude and wretched things about and to me.  I was grateful that I had thicker skin than some others that I witnessed being harassed and bullied.  I remember one occasion in which I was on the other side of the bullying, and I am ashamed of it to this day.  I am also ashamed when I think of all the time that I witnessed bullying and didn’t do anything to stop it or to support the victim.  Bullying today has reached new heights, catapulted forward by the powers of social networking.  Now bullies can hide behind a keyboard while simultaneously projecting their evilness in a public forum and increasing the negative effects it has on the victim exponentially.  It blows my mind the way kids can literally cause someone to kill themselves and feel absolutely no remorse or responsibility afterwards.  What kind of people are raising children that way? I cannot wrap my mind around such disregard for another human.  I know it is impossible that every person I’ve ever come in contact with is reading this blog.  And I have no way of ever really knowing how my words and actions may have affected any of those people.  But I want to put it out there that if I have ever done or said anything that hurt you or made you feel any type of negativity about yourself or towards me, I am truly and deeply sorry.  That is not the person that I strive to be, and you deserve better.  

This leads to the other topic that resonated with me this week, and that is of ‘throwing people away.’  I think each of us has experienced both ends of this at one point or another in our lives.  There are relationships that we walk away from because its healthier that way, but I feel like this is different.  Of all the relationships that I have left or been left, I can’t think of any that I have 100% stopped caring about that person or what happens to them.  I think of ‘throwing someone away’ as abandonment without reason.  I’m not saying this is everyone’s take on it, that’s just how it feels to me.  I also think the average person probably feels like they were thrown away many more times than they have done the throwing themselves.  I know I do.  It’s a horribly painful experience to feel like you’ve been thrown away, why would any of us want to harbor the idea that we made another person feel that way?  In our minds, we feel completely justified and reasonable…while the other person doesn’t always understand what is happening.  This concept makes me think about my biological father in a more compassionate light.  Perhaps he is dredged in his own guilt so heavily that he can’t even fathom the idea of ever meeting with me.  But maybe not, I have no idea.  It helps to think that way though. 
Anyway, the High Holy Days are in full force and I am excited for what is to come :) And here is a picture of our doggies just because they're super-cute and I love them :)

With gratitude,
Emily