I feel like I have been preparing for Rosh Hashanah since March 2020.
In other years, preparation for Rosh Hashanah would always require a stark internal shift for me.
I would move out of summertime and the excitement of a new school year and then shift to a more reflective mode. I would think about how I wanted to live, which relationships I needed to tend to, and one thing I wanted to change in the upcoming year.
Living alongside the virus, I feel like I have been in a pensive mood for months; open to how vulnerable I am, how my health and the health of those I love is only temporary, and how big plans can change on a dime. Living with uncertainty is the way of life now.
While there is so much unknown, what is known is how we choose to live.
Alan Lew writes in his remarkable book about the session of the High Holidays, This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared,
The great drama of this season is the drama of choice…We can choose to let go of anger, boredom, fear, guilt, impatience, grief, disappointment, dejection, anxiety, and despair, and we can make this choice moment by moment… we can form a clear and continuous intention to let these feelings go.
Letting these feelings go is not easy. Patterns of thought and behavior keep familiar habits close. But choosing to live our lives open to an unwritten narrative we can be lead to a place of discovery, for ourselves and our families.
I can choose to let go of how I lost patience with one of my kids this past weekend, and reaffirm that each day I can start again.
I can choose to let go of a fear that an intervention for my kids is ‘too late’ and keep faith they will be able to move through this difficult stage.
This choice is in every moment, not only in what we choose to let go of, but how we choose to act in the moment.
I heard recently from Israeli Rabbi Tamar Elad-Applebaum, that embedded in the word shana (the hebrew word for year) there is “sleep” (shay-na) and “change” (shinui). We can decide if this is going to be a year in which we continue to sleep – holding onto ways of thinking and believing, or whether we will begin to wake up and slowly change one habit, one way of thinking, one internal script, ready to turn toward a new start.
Wishing you a new year filled with savoring sweet moments and full breaths that can help wake us up to a new year,