I am not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination. I have however, in the past shared some of my spiritual journey within the Jewish community in past blogs. This post is one such missive.
This evening is Erev Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. This year, as in past years (though not every year) I attended, what I think is the most beautiful service in the Jewish liturgy – Kol Nidre. It is on this evening that, for those who believe, the gates of heaven open and our prayers rise to God for It to determine if we are worthy of another year on earth AND if that year will be a good one or a not so good one.
What I love about this service are the haunting melodies, the history of the poems and prayers that are recited in English and Hebrew, and the customs that we pass on. I have lived all over and it doesn’t matter where in the world I am, I know that on Kol Nidre, I can walk into a shul (Yiddish for synagogue) and will be able to follow the service. It is that consistent… it is that predictable… it is that mundane.
Rabbi Glickman, at Temple B’nai Tikvah, whom I have only met on a couple of other occasions, shared some thoughts about being mundane in his sermon this evening. He posed the question – 100 years from now, what will you be remembered for? Will you be remembered for the mundane actions of the everyday, or will you be remembered for the uniqueness that you bring to the world? Will it be because you were consistent in what you did and predictable, or because you stepped outside your comfort zone and your “box” to do the unexpected, or to help someone outside of your community?
In reflecting on this further, there is something to be said for consistency – it fosters identity, community, security and oneness. It also means that those who are seeking out that singularity will know where to look for it (like a service in a synagogue, temple, church, or mosque). The flipside to this coin however, is that it prevents the individual from being remembered as someone unique, inspiring, motivating and aspiring.
In a world where we have leaders building walls and fences, the largest human migration due to weather patterns and geo-political pressures, fires that are burning and floods that are ravaging huge swaths of land, I think it is time we looked at both of sides of the coin and stop thinking of the solutions in binary terms, and start thinking of our world in “both-and” terms.
One hundred years from now, will our grandchildren and great grandchildren look back on our legacy and will they say they were drawn into our stories and memories because of the wake we caused, or because of the “Garden of Eden” that we planted.