On Atonement

Altar for remembrance
Altar for remembrance

A Litany of Atonement by Robert Eller-Isaacs

For remaining silent when a single voice would have made a difference, we forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For each time that our fears have made us rigid and inaccessible, we forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For each time that we have struck out in anger without just cause, we forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For each time that our greed has blinded us to the needs of others, we forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For the selfishness which sets us apart and alone, we forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For those and for so many acts both evident and subtle which have fueled the illusion of separateness, we forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and an important time in Jewish tradition.  This past week, October 3-4 this high holy day is designated as a time for genuine introspection about the deeds and ways we walk our paths, and an opportunity to rectify and forgive ourselves and others.  Through fasting, purification rituals, confession and prayer many Jews will ‘self-correct’ to make a better way in life.  I’ve heard some of my Jewish friends call Yom Kippur a spiritual “get out of jail” calling card. It’s grace. That’s more than oversimplified, but you get the gist!

I confess that my personal journey has humbled me on so many levels.  I’ve been silent when I could have spoken up for rightness; struck out in anger because of immaturity or ignorance; been selfish and rigid because of illusory ego; yet, I am here today knowing that grace has given me another chance to forgive myself, others and openly begin in love, period. I’ve been vulnerable, like many of us, privy to emotional rollercoasters and have felt like what seemed unfathomable sorrow. I’m inspired that forgiveness finds its way through misdeeds, if you take responsibility. One does not have to wallow in the burden of their memory and can opt for happiness, compassion and service to others. This is aspiring and a choice.

Day of Atonement, a time of reflection for all thoughtful human beings to quietly sit, breathe a long breath and honestly choose kindness.  Obviously, this is something that goes beyond Judaism. What do you think the by-product of honest assessment of our [humankind] “emotional stuff” would be?  I’d like to hear from you.

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