Rabbis Without Borders
Rabbis Without Borders is a dynamic forum for exploring contemporary issues in the Jewish world and beyond. Written by rabbis of different denominations, viewpoints, and parts of the country, Rabbis Without Borders is a project of Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
There is a relationship in my life that has gnawed at my heartstrings for more than twenty years, and each year, during the Days of Awe, I do what I can to bring it to closure, internal closure, quieting the triggers, accepting desire unmet, forgiving the action and inaction that causes me pain. I let go and let go again in a conscious process of coming into equilibrium. And, annually, I am quieter in this season, accepting of a certain failure, ok with regret, ok with a particular sadness, a particular loneliness.
And it is never a door completely closed. I am never truly triumphant over my grief or the sense of injustice that re-surfaces with time – sometimes a long time, sometimes even so much time that I begin to believe my teshuvah did neutralize disturbing experience, returning me to some core that pre-dates it or overarches it. But ultimately, I realize that “closure” is a construct that requires a degree of control I do not possess.
Instead, I feel bidden to deal with an unpredictable and confusing world, its sometimes undue frustrations, its undeserved disappointments, and it renderings of disorder. This struggle doesn’t impede life, it is life. Perhaps this is my resonance with the recurrent loops of our tradition, celebrating cycles of seasons and repeating our sacred myth in a sequence that always connects the end with the beginning just after the period of my repentant return to my deepest self. There is no closure and we celebrate that by beginning again, telling the story one more time, this time through the lens of who we are right now, from the rung of psycho-spiritual understanding we stand on in this moment of our evolving selves.
In the mystical telling of Creation, the world God succeeds in fashioning is God’s second try. The first time, God overestimated the capacity of reality to absorb the divine creative energy. So God learned to attenuate the divine flow, to be more nuanced and controlled, and with God’s increased control the vessels Creation poured into became more bounded, more resilient. Then, physical worlds of time and space began to fill with divine light and actualize. Then there were stars and galaxies and mountains and storm clouds and plants and animals of all species and kinds, and finally, there was humankind with the capacity, in turn, to create.
I am in the moment of my annual second chance. I recognize my own power to sense and to focus my own radiant light and to attenuate and control the feelings that arise in me. I cannot control the world or alter chance and fate as it affects me and those whom I love. I cannot “complete” disturbing experience. But I can hold what comes my way with better grace, having calmed during the Days of Awe, and I can be more vigorously proactive in extending myself with love, just the right measure of love, having let go and let go and let go during this round of teshuvah.
Photo attribution: http://sweetpublishing.com