Elul, a time of dread to me. Like in a movie when you hear the ominous background music while people are having fun. Something dreadful is about to happen and everyone is oblivious.
I am headed for the High Holy Days where something profound “should” happen. But unlike my movie friends, I know it. I know I will face the invisible dread and hear that ominous music in my soul as my community reminds me: It’s Elul!! Prepare!!
How does one prepare to face all the sins committed? The lists of sins in our machzor are long and inclusive. Our forefathers were quite thorough and quite sinful it would seem.
And forgiveness? How does one prepare to forgive? Really, if I knew how to make that happen, I would have done it years ago.
Same old Elul. Failure after failure, year after year. Never really helped me get ready until this year…..5780.
This year I received an Elul message from Rabbi Eric Weiss of the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, a wise, humble and profound spiritual teacher. He suggested that Elul was a journey to and through the High Holy Days. What would we need for this journey? What would we pack into our suitcase?
I have gone into the Days of Awe unprepared because I have used Elul to think about what I “should” be doing, doing nothing, then feeling bad about it and exhausting myself! This year, I will PACK!
Quiet. Easier to get this year than most, I will pack extra.
Compassion. Lots of compassion. For me and others I will encounter.
Free passes. Free passes for those who have hurt me; who knows what kind of tzuris they have?
Calm. I need calm in order to hear with my soul, otherwise it’s just noise to my brain.
Gratitude. Squeezed into every empty space.
Forgiveness. So much easier to find space for if I pack these other things first.
This year, I am going in prepared. Calm, not confused, not resisting and not mad. My own background music is playing; lovely, soft, and calming. Brahms. Piano.
My bag is packed so that I should be able to handle any unknown.
This year, I will be standing in front of the gate, my bag at the ready, awaiting the opening.
Awaiting the sound of the shofar.