25 of 40 9/20 Elul 25 Prepent: 40 daily reminders to change for good and go into a new year, better. read more/subscribe According to several Jewish traditions, today, the 25th of Elul, is when God said ‘let there be light’ and history began to happen. Six days later mammals were created, including proto-humans, and that’s how we got Rosh Hashana – Jewish version of a happy new year – all about the humans as the jewel in the crown of creation. Tonight marks the eve of the annual marking of the official first day of fall, the Fall Equinox – an ancient holy day of honoring the turning of the seasons. From various directions, the grander mystery of life and all that we have to be grateful for within it is honored today. So how does one pause to not take all this for granted, to honor all this ‘clockwork’ living that we are part of? This is where, for many, religious thinking comes in. God as the Creator steps on stage like a fashion designer at the end of the runway, bowing to our applause. So. Is there a God in your life? Do you believe in creation, evolution, some intelligent design combination? When poop hits the fan, when joys override you, where is the place in the soul or the mind for reverence to the mystery with so many names? Does any of this matter at all? I know. This is a big one. Tonight, in Asheknazi congregations, we begin to pray Slichot – the liturgy of the High Holy Days in full force, asking for forgiveness from ourselves, from our peers – and from God. I think that this is possible even for so many of us who do not full on believe that God exists, or cares about our little lives, or waiting for our prayers. For me, God is a metaphor, a nod to our human need for form and narrative when the bigger reality is too abstract and grand to capture. Does one pray to existence? Do I praise the setting sun? Do I ask for help from Life itself? well, yes and no, but my theology is a product of an ongoing process of investigation, renewed often, meaningful as a private conversation that nourishes who I am and sometimes goes silent for days or months at a time. It is a work in progress, just like this world, just like me. On this day of creation, in preparation for the days of public worship, feasts and fast on the path to better being – take some time to ask your self, alone or with others, a really big question: what do I believe in? and how does that belief, or faith, or not, impact my choices, my values, my life? Perhaps this is an invitation to a longer conversation that you will want to take on this coming year.
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