The email was waiting in my inbox. My column was due. “What column?” I asked myself. I did not remember that it was my turn. What could I possibly write about on short notice at this time of year with four funerals over the next few days, and the Yamim Nora’im (Days of Awe) upon us just as quickly?
Then I realized that is exactly what I should write about, especially at this time of the year: Life happens, whether we are ready for it or not! We are given these Yamim Nora’im to mark the beginning of a New Year. As busy as anyone might be, the High Holy Days remind us that life happens, and provide us with the opportunity to begin to get ready for it.
Another year is gone. How did that happen so quickly? Some of us are a bit bruised. Some wish that we would never have to let go of this past year. Some are no worse for the wear and hardly notice anything is different.
And yet, that is just the point. This season calls on us to reflect on the days and weeks and months of the year gone by in order to retrace the steps that got us to this point in time. We reflect on the past not to dwell in it, but to use it as a foundation for the steps that we can take into our future.
What do we want in the coming year? Health? Without question! Happiness? Of course! Prosperity? It would not hurt! Though some of what we want is out of our control, there is much that we can do to ensure that what does lie ahead is as much ours as anyone (anything) else’s.
These Yamim Nora’im are as much a transition as a beginning. They ask us to ask of ourselves questions that often lead to a headache: What are we? What is our life? Our goodness? Our righteousness? Our achievements? Our power? Our victories? However, in some ways the answers are to be found in the questioning itself, urging us to think positively about what we can still accomplish.
This time of year, as busy and as eventful as it may be, is also a wonderful time to be a Jew. This season reaffirms that yes, life does happen! But it also reminds us that if we pause long enough to embrace that “happening,” strive to make it our own, and use that energy to move forward, there is more than just a chance that we will be blessed with a New Year.
Life happens! How can we make the most of it, especially at this time of the year? Try one or more of the following for a start:
• Have a piece of an apple dipped in honey.
• Call a friend that you have not spoken with in a while.
• Call that person who used to be a friend and repair your relationship.
• Tell those that you love that you do love them.
• Join with your communities in prayer — pick the synagogue/congregation where you feel most comfortable — and be a part of that which is greater than any of us.
• Let this be a New Year … make the transition that will bring us closer to what we want our lives to be.
Life sure does happen. And, especially at this time of year we are all busier than we want to be. However, if we want our New Year to be different, we have to, first, strive to make a difference ourselves.
A Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to you and to yours!