Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Yom Kippur

Today is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. I am what you might call Jewish-ish. My mother is not Jewish so that makes me unofficial to lots of folks. But my dad was Jewish and my stepmother and stepfather are both Jewish. I've related culturally to Judaism for the bulk of my life. I celebrate sporadically most holidays, except for Yom Kippur.

I always fast on this day, no matter what else going on. My partner Nancy jokingly says I fast because I have remnants of an adolescent eating disorder. But it's not that. It's so much more. In my life challenge to get conscious, to be present, to live in the moment, there is a great tangibility to those struggles when I fast.

If I were a truly observant Jew, I would not be working today. I would not be writing or going to Yoga in an hour. The one thing I do is fast. During many many moments of the day, I feel myself hungry and then I am reminded that today I will not eat until sundown. This prompts me to think about what I have done in the year behind me that I wish I had done differently or better. Ways I could have acted kinder or more generously. Times when I could have listened more whole-heartedly to my partner or my child or my friends or my employees.

I do not self- flagellate on this day. I reflect. I notice those hungry moments and take in the thoughts that accompany them.  I make commitments for the future. I will not respond to texts during dinner. I will wait a few more minutes before answering that heated email. I will always say "I love you" when I can.

Tonight we will have a Break Fast, when we celebrate at sundown by eating together. This is another beautiful moment for me on this day. Most days I eat on the run or sporadically, unconsciously. Yesterday, after 8 hours of work, before another 3, I grabbed a bar from my glove box and plowed on. Tonight when I eat, it will be different. The anticipation of the first bite, the sensation of swallowing, the joy in eating together with people I love, are all moments that I often miss, being present, conscious, awake.

Life will continue on as normal tomorrow, hopefully with some residual memory of where I am today. These hours of fasting will change me a little bit. I will be in the world a little more alert, engaged.

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