Rosh HaShana approaches with the smells, tastes and colors of the fall. Memories of past years and excitement for new projects co-mingle. Shanah means two things in Hebrew: to repeat, as in the Hebrew word for the number 2, shnayim; and to change. Paradoxical, right? To repeat and to change seem to be opposites!
But THIS Rosh Hashana and LAST Rosh Hashana are not the same. We are not the same. Some of us lost partners or friends. Some of us wed or separated. Some of us gained children or grandchildren. We are not the same this year as we were a year ago. Earth has continued its dance thru the cosmos, with all of us along for the ride. Each and every minute is new.
This month of Elul and the coming moon of Tishrei, the new year, are times for intentional self-reflection. How ARE we the same and how have we grown...or diminished... over the past year? Have we discerned well? Have we spoken truth, from the heart? Have we cleaned up old tensions, inside or between ourselves and others? This is the season to see ourselves both objectively and compassionately; and then to see others thru that same lense of clarity and compassion.
It is only in objective self-reflection, and in the eyes of others, that we are clearly seen. God did not equip us with eyes that look inward, only out! So each of us is a mirror for the other. It seems to me that to see another with calm eyes and a calm heart is an intimacy that can brings tears, a love that is not sentimental or pitying. The gift of our attention is a kind of food which literally nourishes us.
Wherever you spend your holiday - try to take moments to really see the people around you. Take in their wholeness, their innocence and beauty, their trials and fears. This petri dish of self-acceptance and acceptance of others will create the right climate for our high holiday moments of prayer to be moments of alchemical change for us - repeating the words, customs and actions yet renewed and alive.