Your life is a gift.
That is the idea I am carrying around with me during this period of High Holidays.
I am inspired by the beautiful responses I received from you last week to my question, what is the One Thing, (character trait or disposition) you would like to work on in the coming year?
One soulful parent wrote in about how she wants to grow in patience with her partner. While there are so many differences between them, she wants to focus more on treasuring her husband and their time together.
Another soulful parent shared that after a very close encounter with her own mortality and a significant health scare, her One Thing is to pay more attention to the signs her body sends her and to take her health care a lot more seriously in the year ahead.
Thank you for sharing so generously.
As I start the school year with my own kids and sign them up for all sorts of activities, I am thinking about how they will grow this year. And as I strongly encourage (ok, sometimes really demand) my kids to sit in services over the High Holidays, I often think to myself, “to what end?” How do I want them to grow spiritually?
I want them to be familiar with the liturgy and melodies of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur machzor. I want them to have reflective time to contemplate their lives. But more readily… I want them to be exposed to religious and spiritual concepts that can anchor and guide them throughout their lives.
Teshuvah – that return and finding your way back no matter how lost you feel is always a possibility, no matter what came before. It is always possible to begin anew.
Tzelem Elokim – that when the impulse comes to my kids to compare themselves to others, put down someone else or get aggravated by someone else’s different ways/styles or behavior, I want them to remember that we were all created b’tzelem elohim, in God’s image. And that there is a place in this world for all of us.
Selicha – I want them to know that saying “I’m sorry” is not a sign of weakness, as our general culture might have it, but a sign of great strength. Apologizing puts the relationship between two people at the center and not the ideology, position or perspective of one side alone. That reorientation can be holy.
Each moment is precious – I want them to hear the liturgical poems, especially the unateneh tokef prayer, which is recited over the High Holidays and alludes to the idea that we came from dust and will return to dust but God endures forever. I want them to remember that our lives are temporary and that temporality is what gives each day meaning. I want them to carry that idea with them to remind them to make each day significant.
So as we begin again, I invite us to think about what animates us about this season of renewal and what lessons do we want our children to learn. And maybe, pick just one that you want to focus on sharing, teaching and embodying for your children in the year ahead. While cultivating our children’s intellectual intelligence is important, cultivating their spiritual intelligence is just as precious.
Wishing you all gmar hatima tova (may you be sealed in the book of life!)
Blessings for the journey,
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