In yesterday's meditation session, something remarkable happened for me. I felt a flash of hope. Just like that.

It's been a long year of drama and trauma. My heart was battered, then shattered and the pile of fragments scattered.

For the past month, the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is to think of three things for which I am grateful. Number one is always coffee. Number two is usually appreciation for a first world utility service (running water, heat, cable). Number three is gratitude for the support of friends and family and the unexpected kindnesses that have come my way. After I acknowledge why I am grateful, I begin to meditate.

Meditation is a time when all the emotions that are held in check for most of the day become untethered. While meditation is a peaceful time, it’s also a time when I realize I carry shards of grief, fear, and anger. 

But yesterday, I felt hope, Light delicate hope. I have it with me still and this is a lovely way to go into the new year. I wish the same for you.

The Fast Approaches: Day Two Hundred Twenty One

The iconic image of Israeli soldiers shortly a... Yesterday, Bonnie took me aside and said:  "I hope you have a meaningful fast."  I'd never heard this before.  This is the time of year when people wish each other a happy and healthy New Year, and as tonight begins the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, the usual platitude is to wish someone an "easy fast."  I've never thought about having a meaningful fast and it probably wouldn't have struck a chord with me had I not been meditating for these past two hundred twenty one days.

Like everyone else I know who is Jewish, I dread the day of fast.  It's uncomfortable.  We get dehydrated, headachy, cranky, tired.  Services are long: there's the interminable standing, then sitting, then standing and standing and standing.  It's one day, but it's one very long day.

When I was sixteen years old I decided not to fast.  It was 1973 and I was in Israel as a high school exchange student.  That day was one of the first days I'd ever contemplated mortality and the precious nature of a life.  My stomach was not in protest, but on that Yom Kippur in 1973, fighter jets jettisoned across the the sky and I spent much of the day in a bomb shelter on the farm where I lived.  The day the Yom Kippur War began was the last day I decided not to fast.

Although, as always, I will miss my coffee (morning latte: I love you so much!), I will probably get grumpy and have bad breath, this year I will try to find the meaning of my day of atonement and my fast find me.

If you observe, I wish you a meaningful fast.

5773: Days Two Hundred Six - Two Hundred Nine

At its center, as I sit with myself for my daily twenty minutes, I observe something slow and gentle about life and death.  I don't look at mortality head on, but I try to grasp the ungraspable bit by bit.  The clock ticks. Time trickles on. Erev Rosh Hashanah, 5773. Life and death are weighty matters. So it shall be written: who shall live and who shall die.  The questions are ominous and I am only too glad not to know the answers.

There is much that is precious to me and tomorrow when I sit in my synagogue, not in silence and not alone, I will observe the Jewish New Year, in all its terrifying glory.

Tapuach bedvash