Yesterday was Yom Kippur – the holiest day of the Jewish year. This is the day we atone for all of the sins of the previous year – formally as a community. This doesn’t mean that we only apologize or ask forgiveness one day per year – I feel like I spend half my life apologizing for something. But on this day we come together and collectively we ask for the forgiveness of family, friends, ourselves and of G-d so that we may go forth into the new year with a clean slate – not carrying the weight of our mistakes – and make a fresh start – a new beginning.
One of my biggest personal challenges is making time for wonder – in Hebrew the word is Niflaot. The idea of making time for wonder makes me laugh – as if you can set a time to begin receiving all the secrets of the universe. I used to be the kind of creative person who thought I had no control over inspiration, and at times it can be illusive, for sure. Yet, after reading and listening to some of the great creative voices throughout history I have come to recognize that making the time to receive the inspiration does create a mutual respect between the creative and the muse. I’m starting to think the same is true for wonder.
Before I had children I would wake-up and have my coffee outside almost daily. These days I usually gulp it down in the car racing to get to work while also putting on my make-up and making a mental to-do list for my day. I often get so caught in the weeds of the day to day that the only wonder I can muster is where I lost my marbles and should I even bother looking for them. There are so many beautiful and terrible things on this planet that deserve our wonder and awe. I’m as guilty as anyone of putting my head down and barreling through the day. The train never stops moving and sometimes jumping from car to car is all I can do. It never occurs to me to look out the window at the passing world. Sometimes catching the moments is just another thing I’m “supposed” to be doing and, well, screw you Universe this crap is hard and I don’t wanna (stomps foot, crosses arms and scowls)! Can’t I just watch Netflix and scroll Facebook?
The answer to that question is yes – of course you can. You CAN do lots of things and there is a time and place for those things. BUT – if there’s a time and place for those things might there also be a few minutes for wonder? And not the wonder over missing socks, incomplete homework, or the greatest wonder of them all “What’s for dinner?” Real wonder – awe at the magnificence of a perfectly written song, the way the sun shines differently in the beginning of fall, or why the women of the Hamer tribe in Ethiopia participate in bull-jumping rituals…
There are many mistakes for which I atone – impatience, a short temper, overreacting, impatience, sloth, impulsiveness, impatience, gossip, ingratitude and impatience. But the disregard for wonder is likely the most egregious. Wonder says there is more – it is an acknowledgement of faith, science, art, nature, things that are bigger than me. Wonder connects me to you – us to the rest of us and to the whole wide universe. It is hope, compassion and understanding. Wonder is five minutes or an hour or whatever amount of time we can find thinking about the amazing, huge, WONDERful, world of which we are a part but at times may feel disconnected from.
So for me the Jewish year 5775 is the year of niflaot – wonder. Whether you are Jewish or any other religion or no religion at all – it is never too late to take a new approach, to apologize to your people, to acknowledge wrongs – to forgive yourself and ask forgiveness of others.
Much love, L’Shanah Tovah (Happy New Year), Until next time…