Today is a big day in the Jewish world, Yom Kippur, the annual Day of Atonement.

People are fasting, spending a lot of hours in synagogue in focused prayer, turning inward to look at how they’ve been for the past year and how they really want to be.

We do it a little differently. Last night, we gathered at my sister’s synagogue for the family service. The rabbi’s sermon focused on everyday heroes and how kids can be heroes so easily, by looking out for others, by having a mindset of helping.

cranbrook
Cranbrook grounds

Today, we will hike through Cranbrook to the Japanese garden and throw bread crumbs into the raging river, symbolic of our “choices” and how we’d like to make different choices in the coming year.

Having a new year in the fall reminds us that we can start anew at any time. We also have a second chance – how lucky is that! Nothing is written in stone unless we want it to be. And so this is a perfect time to focus on consciousness, awareness, knowing how we speak and think and act toward others rather than doing it on auto-pilot.

Most of the time we don’t stop to consider whether we are connected to our higher power. We don’t live in our consciousness. We just breeze through life acting mostly from the ego, knee-jerk emotional reactions that focus on protecting me, me, me.

It’s a terribly destructive way to live.

Once you clear past the surface clutter, if you do, you see a vast canvas of connection and peace. The world is not as it seems. We are not what we wear or what we say or who we sit next to on the bus. All the judgments of I can’t believe she wore that outfit and did you hear… it’s all just mud that obscures the flowers growing in the ground.

We distract ourselves with surface problems because we don’t know how to live at a deeper level.

This week I returned to my routine, which includes frequent yoga. When I walk into the studio, it’s like I am home. My haven. A cave where everything makes sense and I’m never distracted by all the stuff that usually jump in my line of sight.

It’s all live from the heart and be connected to Mother Earth while at the crown of your being you are connected to God. 

It’s the way we should live all the time. In our work, in our play, in our parenting, in our relationships. No question.

So today, we Jews reflect on that and hopefully we can put the superficial aside to really see the Truth.

But it’s one day in a year.

It’s a good effort, to be sure. But it can’t be enough, at least not for me.

I told the kids yesterday that while some people ask for forgiveness at this time because that’s what we are supposed to do, I prefer to do so throughout the year, admit my mistakes, seek forgiveness and understanding on an ongoing and frequent basis.

It seems more true to me.

In the moment, it means more, to own up to I did wrong and make it right.

In a community, we certainly need structure and routine that tells us when to better ourselves. I get it.

But individually, I hope this is the year that we all can institute ongoing and meaningful forgiveness requests, ongoing and meaningful self-improvement and self-reflection, ongoing and meaningful living from the heart and the higher realms and not getting so mired down in the mundane.

G’mar chatimah tovah. May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life this year, and know what that means, in the depths of our souls.

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