For decades Paul and I have brought together an ever-lovely group of friends and family on our backyard Mt Pollux for Rosh Hashanah. This year it felt important to continue our tradition. I wasn’t feeling 100%, but had so many people help with all the details; it was a wonderful evening, for which I am so grateful!
We gather and greet each other, we sing, dip apples in honey for a sweet new year, and share blessings, and readings. We walk together back to our yard for candle lighting, blessing grape juice (this year our own,) )and a festive meal. I make challah for all our guests in various shapes on a theme I choose from the high holiday season.
This year I am drawn to is the theme of Teshuvah, or returning. It’s interpreted many ways, returning to faith, to tradition, to community. For me it’s also about returning to the very best version of ourselves. With help from my sister-in-love, Lauren, we start early in the day, and make challah to represent a number of tools that might help us, remind us, urge us, support us, and carry us on as we do the work of Teshuvah. Check out the photo for illustration!
We have a heart because it’s often love and support that urges us in the best directions.
We have a hand, because sometimes it’s a person who extends a hand that helps us back to our feet, or up out of a low place, or points us to a healthier, more fitting track.
We have a light bulb, because sometimes we muscle through on our own with a compelling idea that carries us and lights our way through uncertain or unexpected times.
We have a compass, because it can be helpful to know first where we actually are before we plot our moves.
We have a map because, while it’s not the territory, it offers some context and frame of reference and a record of where we’ve been. We can pore over a map and find other options we may never have even thought about.
For my New Jersey cousins, we have a jug-handle, because sometimes we realize the best way to go left is to actually go right, meaning that sometimes the obvious route is not that obvious, sometimes we’re surprised at the path we might need to take.
And lastly, we have the ever-present RESET button from your device du jour. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to once in a while just to be able to hit that reset button and have another chance at that conversation, or opportunity or experience? To do it right, to do it better, to take from it what we really might have? Kind of like the GPS system that says recalculating when you take a wrong turn. It would be a wonder if we heard that when we chose a less than stellar path! While I appreciate that sometimes it’s in our errors and mistakes and missteps we learn from most, there are probably some of those bad calls we could have done without!
May we all be blessed to have the time to consider our lives, what we’re doing, how we’re living, and make adjustments, large and small to right ourselves, point ourselves in ways and directions that match our vision for the best version of ourselves, so we can meet the challenges, the opportunities, the difficulties and the joys that this new year has in store!
Love and Light from Middle Street