I usually like to enter the new year slowly, having enough time to collect my thoughts and intentions. I would have been planning for weeks, though our community has developed its own sweet minhag and customs, and so that very often means planning is smooth.
This year is, of course, different. We have had to learn to do everything different, and spiritual community is no exception. This year I am barrelling into the new year full steam ahead, hoping that everything works out the way it was planned.
Of course, that is no guarantee. It is life we are talking about. Life has a habit of disregarding our plans. Oftentimes we find ourselves reacting as opposed to acting, following the curves and not the straight line.
I don’t need to say “unprecedented” or “pivot” for you to know that these High Holidays will be expressed differently than they have in recent past. I say “expressed,” because while our outward demonstration of welcoming the new year and this period of repentance may be different, the inner emotions and spirit is the same.
We will still have community, familiar liturgies, themes of renewal and rebirth, traditions of food and family. It is just the “how” that is different this year. If we remind ourselves of those core ideas, we will remember that the holidays for all their difference this year, are timeless.
One of those timeless ideas of Rosh Hashanah is that despite everything, we have the capacity to change ourselves and change our world. We have a hand in inscribing the Book of Life for us and our communities.
Looking back over 5780, there is a lot to challenge us over the coming year. That challenge may inform what our Book of Life looks like. For some, the Book of Life looks like a ballot. For others, a letter to a local leader. For some, a note of gratitude to a caregiver or essential worker. For some, an email to a family or friend seeking to strenthen ties.
Whatever your Book of Life looks like, it always starts with a blank page, waiting for you to make the next move.
There is a lot in store for us this coming year. May you inscribe, and be inscribed, in the Book of Life. May you enjoy a year of health and happiness, sweetness and curiosity, creativity and consciousness, awakening and growth. May all your plans be fulfilled, and may you be blessed with strength if they are not.
L’shana tova u’metukah. May 5781 be a year of positive change for all of us.