Thoughts for Rosh and Yom

When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.
— Harriet Beecher Stowe

We are entering the Jewish high holy days known as the Days of Awe. This is the ten-day period starting with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and ending with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is a time of reckoning, an invitation to reflect on our lives and recognize where we have fallen short, a time to make amends and to ask forgiveness of those we have hurt, even unintentionally. Some of us ask forgiveness of the Earth. In the traditional prayers, we ask to be "inscribed in the Book of Life for one more year." I have always loved those words, but this year they have a tinny, selfish tone: how dare we ask for more Life when we continue to squander all that we’ve been given? Do we not ask anything of ourselves in return?

In my heart I still hope that we foolish humans will wake up in time to (re)align with Nature. My experience continues to be that when we respond to Her full-heartedly, miracles of restoration occur. I believe we may be living at the beginning of what Joanna Macy calls the Great Turning, and I have dedicated my life to that possibility. And yet… some days the bad news is so unrelenting that I have to wonder if our – my -  role is to live in a fierce witnessing of the End Times, and to hold the grief of it. Perhaps the End Times and the Great Turning are co-arising, as they must, if we are, in fact, standing at the fulcrum of what the I Ching calls ‘a whole new cycle of time.’ Terror and splendor, either-or, both-and. Or perhaps this is simply a time to practice the art of the possible, and the art of not knowing – another co-arising, as we bumble along, dizzy and heartsick in the face of it.

There has been a terrible accident and we have been struck in the head by a greed that has erased all memory of where we came from, amnesia of the heart. Only the tender caress of the Beloved will awaken us. And so, it is not for us to ask to be inscribed in the Book of Life for one more year, but rather to beg that the Book of Life be inscribed in us once again. We must read each page until the letters dance before us and we leap from our seats to join them. This is the original library, a source text written in fur and sand, claw and hide and dung, the library before Alexander, and before Alexandria. This is the archive that, if it burns, cannot be recovered.

Rosh Hashanah