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AWE-some Days

September 19, 2015 1:17 am | Leave your thoughts

The timing of this week’s post happens to fall during the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Jewish day of atonement) which are referred to as The Days of Awe. I did not actually know that this period was called that until one of my friends shared it at our Rosh Hashanah dinner on Monday night. I wanted to know more, so I looked it up. Judaism 101 says this:

The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the Days of Repentance. This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur.

One of the ongoing themes of the Days of Awe is the concept that G-d has “books” that he writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter G-d’s decree. The actions that change the decree are “teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah,” repentance, prayer, good deeds (usually, charity). These “books” are sealed on Yom Kippur. This concept of writing in books is the source of the common greeting during this time is “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.

Paradoxically, perhaps, I’ll be heading to London tomorrow to complete my training to become a Life Celebrant/Wedding Officiant. Among the things that this entails is for me to become an ordained member of the clergy.

Even though I’ll be practicing as a non-denominational Officiant, I’ll become ordained with a Christian organization.

You can’t imagine what kind of feelings this has been stirring up inside of me.

For those of you who know me, or who have got to know me through my blog, I hope it’s clear that I do my best to be integrous in everything I do. What this means is that I am leaning to develop and live by a moral and ethical code which feels authentic and aligned with who I am and what I stand for. Having said that, we are only able to “do as good as we know” so it’s entirely probable that I’m doing things that are out of integrity, simply because I haven’t learned every lesson or faced every fear.

I am neither totally wicked nor totally righteous.

Like most of the world’s population, I fall somewhere in between.

I’m not sure if I’ve written about this before, but I have a fairly interesting and somewhat eclectic spiritual background. I was raised by my mother who was adopted by a anti-religious scottish woman, who then sent my mother to catholic school, in Montreal, even though she (my grandmother) was abused by the catholic school system in Scotland. My mother, too, had a less than ideal experience with Catholicism. She hated the nuns and eventually went on to transfer to public school. She decided to convert to Judaism when she was 21 in order to marry her high school sweetheart, Reuben. When Reuben and my mother split up, 3 years later, my mother came to Toronto and left all religious practices behind. She called herself a “humanist” saying that she “embraced all religions but practiced none”. My biological father was also non-affiliated (as I understand it) but he was gone by the time I was one year old and my step father became my male role model and my beloved “Dad”. Because he was Jewish and I wanted, so desperately, to “belong” to him, somehow, I “decided” to become Jewish at the age of 11. Due to the fact that my mother had already converted before her marriage to Reuben, “God”, I imagined, let me in on a technicality 🙂

From that moment on, and for the next 30+ years, I was 100% Jewish. I married into a Jewish family and raised my kids according to the Jewish tradition. At that time, this was absolutely what I believed and what I wanted for my life and for my children’s lives.

When I first made my “Jewish declaration”, I had no idea what it meant to be Jewish. At 11, I assumed it meant that I had to reject everything that wasn’t Jewish with the utmost fervor. How this manifested, mostly, was in how I felt about anything Christian. I was weirded out by churches and figured that Jesus must be the “bad guy”. Over the years, however, as I became more educated and curious about all religions and cultures (and with the influence of my “humanist” mother) I began to see that Jesus actually was an amazing prophet and his teachings were very much in line with my own spiritual philosophy.

I did my best to make sense of this, in terms of how it aligned with my Jewish beliefs, and concluded that it was okay to respect Jesus and his message as long as I did not recognize him as the “son of God”.

And this is where it gets tricky for me…

For some reason, my journey has led me to a place where I am now making the choice to become ordained under the Christian faith. What this means for me is that I must feel 100% aligned with the “Gospel of Jesus”. To be honest, I think I have always recognized Jesus as the “son of God” simply because I believe that all human beings are, indeed,  the children of god. We all have our own experience of what God is, but I believe we all share a commonality that can not be explained through science alone and the fact that most people on earth believe in some kind of Higher Power indicates that we are connected, regardless of what we choose to call it.  This may seem completely blasphemous to some, considering that I have lived as a Jew for most of my life, but for all those years I always knew what I believed and, since then, nothing has changed.

I’m just no longer choosing to define my spirituality by one religion, alone.

If others have a hard time with it, I completely understand. I’m just much less concerned with what others think of me than I am with how I feel about myself.

And this feels right.

I know it might sound like I’m making up the rules as I go along, but I’m fine with that. In fact, I think that’s the best way to go about it. I’m following my heart and my heart is open enough to embrace more than one “truth” about spirituality. I’m still learning but, this way, at least I know that whatever I choose is in alignment with my values and is helping me to become the person I want to be in this world. At least I know I’m not fulfilling other people’s agendas through any kind of conditioning by societal or organized religious dogma.

Well, I don’t really “know” any of that last part, for sure, but I do believe it and the only way I can find out if it’s true, or not, is to try it on and see if it fits.

I have alot more to say about this but I ran out of time. Instead, I’ll leave you with the lyrics of the Foo Fighters song, “Learn To Fly”,which was playing when I sat down to write today. It got my attention when I heard the first line: “Run and tell all of the angels” and, knowing I was going to write about my spiritual journey, I decided to look it up before I started to write.

It’s a pretty great song with a very funny music video but the video I LOVE is the Rockin1000 version, which I’ll share below.

Till next week, please do make the best of the remaining Days Of Awe.

When I write next, I’ll be a minister.

Now, if that’s not Awe inspiring, I don’t know what is 🙂

“Learn To Fly”

Run and tell all of the angels

This could take all night

Think I need a devil to help me get things right

Hook me up a new revolution

‘Cause this one is a lie

We sat around laughing and watched the last one die

Now I’m looking to the sky to save me

Looking for a sign of life

Looking for something to help me burn out bright

I’m looking for a complication

Looking ’cause I’m tired of lying

Make my way back home when I learn to fly high.

I think I’m done nursing the patience

It can wait one night

I’d give it all away if you give me one last try

We’ll live happily ever trapped if you just save my life

Run and tell the angels that everything’s alright…

I’m looking to the sky to save me

Looking for a sign of life

Looking for something to help me burn out bright

I’m looking for a complication

Looking ’cause I’m tired of trying

Make my way back home when I learn to fly high.

Make my way back home when I learn to…

…fly along with me, I can’t quite make it alone

Try to make this life my own

Fly along with me, I can’t quite make it alone

Try to make this life my own

I’m looking to the sky to save me

Looking for a sign of life

Looking for something to help me burn out bright

I’m looking for a complication

Looking ’cause I’m tired of trying

Make my way back home when I learn to…

…looking to the sky to save me

Looking for a sign of life

Looking for something to help me burn out bright

I’m looking for a complication

Looking ’cause I’m tired of trying

Make my way back home when I learn to fly high.

Make my way back home when I learn to fly.

Make my way back home when I learn to…



TRACY B. RICHARDS
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