We are now well and truly in the Days of Awe. During the previous month of Elul we began to reflect on the past year and search for those parts of ourselves in need of repair. At Rosh Hashanah we heard the shrill clarion blast of the shofar prompting us to begin the journey of teshuvah. And, on Yom Kippur we will stand in judgement before G-d, entering our final pleas for mercy and justice.
These are the Days of Awe. These are days of contemplation and reflection but also of action: of seeking and giving forgiveness, of answering G-d’s call and taking the first steps of return. The Days of Awe. Days to be in awe. Days to (re)connect to an “intuition for a meaning that is beyond the mystery, an awareness of the transcendent worth of the universe.”[i]
The transcendent worth of the universe. The transcendent worth of all things in and of the universe. Does that include us? Yes. Does that include me? Of that I am not quite so sure. My awe embraces all of creation, and all of G-d’s creations save one. My struggle, particularly acute during the Days of Awe, is recognizing, acknowledging, and accepting my own transcendent worth.
It is custom during the Days of Awe to ask forgiveness of all we have offended or hurt and to forgive all who ask the same of us. I ask forgiveness of all but One and forgive all but one.
I am broken. I have lived in this state of brokenness for many years. I know most of the places I am broken, but others are hidden from even me. Some of the breaks have been “repaired” or patched, but many are too wide, and some of the broken pieces are missing. I know that I, alone, cannot repair my brokenness. I know, particularly at this time of year, that G-d can and will repair my brokenness: I have only to ask. And there, to quote the Bard, lies the rub.
It is difficult on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to pray for a healthy new year and long life when I go to bed each night praying I do not wake up in the morning. It is impossible to seeks G-d’s love and forgiveness when I do not seek nor give those things from and to myself.
My struggle is not only if I am worthy of being made whole but if I even want it. I have lived broken for so long, I do not even know what my life would be like any other way. This life is known, it is comfortable, it is “who I am.” My intellect cries out that life would be better. My heart cries out that life would be different, but different is not always better. My soul simply cries out.
These are The Days of Awe. Days of wonder and fear. Days of wondering can or should my life be different. Days of fear that it will be.
[i] Abraham Joshua Heschel. G-d in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism. p.106