PREPENT DAY 22
Elul 22 5775 – September 6 2015
“I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I thank you.”
We sang this song earlier this summer, at a small gathering in the Judean hills, just these words, to a hypnotic tune, over and over, again and again, for what felt like hours, as candles flickered, tears flowed, and the circle of singers blended into each other and into the night.
At first I sang it directed at myself. Tears. Then I sang it to my father, no longer living. More tears. Then to my mother, siblings, my children, their mothers, colleagues, friends, ex-lovers, teachers, neighbors – tears and tears. Remorse. Relief.
Last night, at synagogues worldwide, Slichot services were held – the ritual in which the prayers of penitence and remorse are recited and open the gates of this season (for those who have not started 22 days ago..) For those of us who struggle with what it means to believe or talk to God, let alone to ask for forgiveness for being the stubborn and lazy people we can sometimes be – here’s the reminder that saying sorry can and should begin with oneself, and then others in our life, and then, perhaps, with the Creator.
Nobody is perfect. We are always a project of perfection in process. But owning that is not always so simple. This ritual reminds us of how to do it.
Saying sorry is always important – and not only at this time of year or when the big faults, fights, and speed bumps happen. In fact, the more we keep to our ‘sorry’ routine year round we avoid the big blow-ups. But let’s face it – life gets messy, guilt, shame and hurt happen and we avoid it. Simple as that. We get caught in our own narratives and fears and then neglect to look the ones we love and live with or work with and may have issues with over this or that or whatever and who doesn’t — and ask for forgiveness in the context of fragile and vulnerable human honesty and compassion.
Along comes Elul and the deadline of what if you only have these 18 days left and these conversations have yet to happen? What kind of unfinished business is that?
Sorry folks, but that’s how it is.. We gotta wake up before it’s too late and we missed our deadline. Who knows…
On this day, Prepent 22, Maybe singing “I love you, I’m sorry..” to yourself is a bit too much for you but how about alone in front of the mirror, for about 2 minutes, looking yourself in the eye and saying, sincerely, aware of all the faults and owning your best intentions – I’m sorry for whatever I’ve done to not live up to my best self, to be my own sabotage agent, my own enemy at times, my very own obstacle: “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I thank you.”
Then choose 3 people to write or say this to. You can leave a voicemail. Eye to eye is best.
Tears are allowed, even encouraged. Honesty is key.
Repeat if required.
Shavua Tov. May it be a good, honest and helpful week for all.