The day after anything significant and anticipated is a delicate day, a decompressing zone. I don't get to be in those places too long usually, the next thing comes and grabs my attention. So it's good to pause. Worked hard and long to get here – yom kippur – 37 days in preparation, as 'soon' ' becomes 'now' and then becomes 'then'. A powerful, emotional experience, many tears, deep prayers, beautiful singing, promises made, time for real reflections: deadline met – success! atonement! shofar blast! eat something!
how does a spiritual experience translate into a spiritual – aware and conscious – life?
what of the new promises and resolutions and responsibilities – how do I retain, remain connected to the urgency and depth of the commitment to change that I, with so many others, took on this yom kippur, just yesterday?
intentions fade so fast.
Jack Kornfiled wrote this great book "After the Ecstasy,Laundry" – all about the spiritual path and the little ways of cultivating awareness on both the holy days and the simple days of our lives. He writes about the wisdom of small goals, doable, simple every day moments of intentional awareness.
Maybe the challenge is not to ask now what but to just imbue each 'now' with a very clear 'what'.
The day after yom kippur, with some definite ecstatic moments, I am indeed doing laundry. quiet time to decompress.
But then later I'm also starting to build a succa in my backyard. Just got the lumber. The day after is also the day of prep for next. in a good way.
There's this Jewish custom to start building the succah right after Yom Kippur – as soon as you've broken your fast. I remember Yom Kippur nights in Jerusalem, where within hours of the fast's end you'd hear hammers and aluminum pipes dragged out of storage, late into the night.
From one religious experience to another, from one symbol to another in this replayed drama of the soul's growth, each season and year, from the courtroom of kippur to the cozy womb of succot, into the shelter of peace.
Whoever came up with this custom knew something about the 'day after syndrome' and introduced a transformational therapeutic way to channel the powerful energy of kippur into the rest of our lives – build something. A way to make sure a spiritual experience is in some way grounded in the cultivation of a spiritual life.
Building a succah – a glorified dining room, really – is a commitment to starting this new year of a spiritual life with the friends and allies we want around the table. It's a good thing to build.
In the now what of post kippur is a process of reckoning and wrapping up, reviewing goals I set out for myself during this prepent journey to the high holidays- commitments, questions, regrets, changes. Got three days to complete a 40 day pilgrimage, and build another succah and another year, a better model even yet.