Friday, September 17, 2010

Jewish Renewal, Yom Kippur, Montreal...

This week, I was preoccupied with learning new job-skills and navigating an ever-expanding work-week. Which is good, because Hashem, Jesus, and Hathor the ancient Egyptian cow-mother Goddess know I NEED the work.

Whenever I start something new and challenging, I panic. And sometimes, I panic all day long. You see, sometimes I decide to cash a check the day before I have an important bill to pay, inconveniently forgetting that the bank will hold any deposited amount in excess of $200 for five business days. And then it rains all day. And my back hurts. And part of me is cursing myself for a low-paying work commitment I'v taken on. But another part of me keeps telling myself I'll be ok, and that I will make it through the next week eating the beans and lentils I've got in my kitchen. And then, somehow, when I get home, I feel ok. I feel like I can make it through. And then, the next morning, I check my account and realize I under-estimated, and I'm going to be able to pay that bill.

Yom Kippur is known as the day of atonement. My apple dictionary widget defines atonement as:

atonement |əˈtōnmənt|
reparation for a wrong or injury : she wanted to make atonement for her husband's behavior.
• Religion reparation or expiation for sin : the High Priest offered the sacrifice as atonement for all the sins of Israel.
• ( the Atonement) Christian Theology the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ.
ORIGIN early 16th cent. (denoting unity or reconciliation, esp. between God and man): from at one + -ment , influenced by medieval Latin adunamentum ‘unity,’ and earlier onement from an obsolete verb one [to unite.]

So the source of the word is unity. This jives with what I know about the Hebrew word "teshuvah", which is translated as repentance or atonement. These are often understood as feeling bad or dirty, suffering in order to make something right, and the idea that suffering is the best way to get something back from God. On the one hand, I think suffering is necessary for growth; success and are worth sweating and struggling for. But teshuvah, more accurately translated, means return, which takes us back to the idea of unity.

How will I "return" this Yom Kippur? I have no fucking clue, this holiday doesn't mean much to me. But I do know that writing this blog is a form of teshuvah. You see, I have a day job. I used to have a day job in telemarketing and customer service. It was horrible. Now, I have another day job. It's better, but I still feel unfulfilled. Writing this blog is a form of expressing my creativity and opinions, as the while building my writing portfolio and getting involved in the world of online commerce. I don't have a ton of confidence about it, but I know that I've got to do it, even if it takes a lot of work and has no guaranteed results. I've often taken the safer road, the one with guaranteed returns where I don't have to challenge myself to something different. The one where I'm not afraid of falling on my face.

Just for today, I am risking by writing. I could fall on my face. I write for a very small audience, I suspect an audience of no more than three or four who read out of friendly kindness. I'm a literary charity case. But I need to keep writing. I need to keep showing up. I need to keep writing even when I known this blog will probably become almost exclusively Christian at some point, when I feel guilty about airing the Jewish community's "dirty laundry" (and by that I mean a Jewish woman who is Christian by choice - or is that non-choice, because it really chose me), and when I am worried about writing something lame. I don't know much about blogging or the writing world in general.

I have no idea if this makes any sense to you, but it makes sense to me. A part of teshuva is following our dharma (if I understand correctly, dharma refers to special things each individual soul was born to do in their lifetimes, whether digging ditches, flying to the moon or inventing a newer and better toilet paper roll). My dharma is to create. So here I am, creating.

In other news, I have to tell you about a wonderful Yom Kipper service I found out about at the last minute. Chavurah Har Kodesh, a Jewish Renewal group, will be celebrating with meditation, egalitarian services, chanting, scriptural study, and fast-breaking this Yom Kippur. A donation of $23 is requested, but I don't think anyone will be turned away (no guarantees). They are partnering for this event with Mile-End Chavurah. Go to Har Kodesh for details! Hope to see you there, and may you have a light and easy fast!

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