The Jewish New Year Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur are quickly approaching, this traditionally signals that we need to focus our attention on our personal lives. This is a time of reflection and self-awareness. In late summer with Autumn approaching we can sense the abundance of harvest and also feel Divine Presence close to us. So much within our day-to-day lives prevents from being in touch and from feeling connected to our essential selves and to our relationships with creation and Creator. When we take stock of our lives, we often think about what we want. However, Torah tradition guides us to have a different view, to ask: what wants me? What is truly important to me and who do I ultimately want to be? Spiritual questions can serve as an engine to self-discovery and growth. Spiritual questions come from a medium of love. They remain open, are inviting and engaging, and allow us to search deep within and to sense and to feel. The goal of these questions is for us to wake up to what really matters and to explore how each of us can change our life-narratives. Hopefully these questions will remind us that we are the authors of our life-narratives and that we have the power to change our stories and to bring greater shalom, wholeness to our lives.
Here are some questions that came down to me while I was meditating on the holy days that my community will soon experience. I hope some of these questions will be pertinent to you. While realizing that we cannot answer them all, I hope they will provide new insights.
Who are the people who mean the most to me? Have I ever told them how I feel about them and their importance to my life and being?
Are there integral relationships in my life that feel fraught? If so, what can I do to bring repair, healing, and reconciliation?
Do I need to forgive myself?
Whom do I fully trust?
How/Where do I experience unconditional love?
Do I sense the Divine in others?
Do I give love to others?
When do I feel most alive--most joyful? What are my life moments that feel truly meaningful?
Am I leading a meaningful life in the here and now?
What have I hoped to do but not yet realized? Do I keep up with these hopes or let them go?
What three pieces of advice would I give to myself 10 years ago? Is that advice still relevant?
Do I try to control my world? How much power do I have over my daily circumstances?
What really scares me?
What do I seek in my prayers?
Do I trust my inner guides, my intuition?
Where do I find beauty
How/Where do I experience awe?
Do I feel connected to the natural world?
What am I truly thankful for?
How do I express gratitude?
May this Autumn in all of her abundance bring us greater light and hope that we can be partners with Divine Source in bringing to our world a time of greater love, harmony and Shalom.
Rabbi Harry Brechner is Rabbi of Congregation of Emanu-El in Victoria, B.C.
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking HERE
* This article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on Saturday, Sept 28th 2019