Thursday, September 14, 2006

376. This Is Real

I've just started to read This Is Real And You Are Completely Unprepared by Rabbi Alan Lew, subtitled "The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation." In the first few pages he lays out the entire conundrum and struggle with beautiful clarity:

Every soul needs to express itself. Every heart needs to crack itself open. Every one of us needs to move from anger to healing, from denial to consciousness, from boredom to renewal. These needs did not arrive yesterday. They are among the most ancient of human yearnings, and they are fully expressed in the pageantry and ritual of the Days of Awe, in the great journey we make between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

He talks in the first chapter about the idea of home, and our search for a place that makes us feel whole. The High Holy Days, he notes, when we dress in white as if in a shroud and plead over and over again for mercy, are a rehearsal for no less than the moment of death, the ultimate expression of this need. I'm making the book sound grim. It's not at all--it really does live up to its jacket copy ("passionate, intimate, funny"). Rabbi Lew's observations are universal, and can also apply to holy days in other religions that share the concepts we focus on at this time of year--redemption, rebirth, forgiveness.

But that home idea struck a nerve, maybe because there's an undercurrent of loss in my life right now, with more to come. It's just a low hum, for which I'm grateful; sadness, but not much pain. Still, these past weeks have made me acutely sensitive to the fact that life continues to happen even though I Am Completely Unprepared. I don't want to reach home and feel like I never got out of the rehearsal. I need to listen more carefully, find a new melody that's louder than this hum or any other that's been hiding the song I'm supposed to hear.

5 comments:

Rachel said...

It makes sense, of course, that you resonate with the metaphors of rehearsal and song. :-)

It's really fascinating how this time of year draws forth emotions, isn't it? For a long time I just felt awkward at the High Holidays, like I was supposed to be connecting with something but I wasn't sure what it was or how to get there. These days I feel almost too-connected -- being awake to my spiritual and emotional life hurts, sometimes. But I'd still rather be in this condition than in that condition. Even if I'm going through more than my share of Kleenex just now.

alto artist said...

Yes--I've had a similar experience, completely. Completely. I wish honesty were easier, and less painful...

--aa.

Regina Clare Jane said...

That title seems to be my life lately, aa. I don't know if you are ever completely prepared... I mean, are we supposed to be? Is that the end goal of life- to be completely prepared? I think you work towards it but there are always these life things that come up and totally blow any preps you made right out of the water... at least for me.
Ack- the reality of it all paralyzes me sometimes...

Mata H said...

I think the reality of the journey toward wholeness includes an accepting of the places within us that are holes, empty spaces, moments full of things we didn't get, unfulfilled longings, inadequate relationships, dysfunctions -- it feels increasingly important to me to unashamedly live the life I have, openly to myself and others. That is how healing happens, I think. We let the air in. We let the breath of Hashem in. We release that which defends and trade it in for that which feels joy.

alto artist said...

I strive to be at that open place and am so admiring of those, like you, who are there--thank you for reminding me not to hold my breath, and to leave some space for the best of everything to enter...

--aa.