I guess the year has flown by, because my dad reminded me a few days ago that it is “Rosh Hashana” this coming week. For those non-jews out there, it is one of the holiest holidays for us Jews. It is not only our “new year”, it is the first day of our ten days of awe. Ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (probably the most important Jewish holiday) in which we are supposed to truly focus on ourselves and repent for our sins or whatever. Yes, you can tell I’m very religious. And that sarcasm is my first language. I’m probably a bad Jew because I haven’t been to temple since grade school, but I went to Jewish school from Pre-K to Senior year of high school so I’m not clueless about the significance of these holidays. My family is not very religious and the schools I went to were all ultra liberal and not orthodox by any means. Anyhow, this is not a post about my Jewish history.
I was driving back from a yoga class, listening to my standard NPR, and was shocked by the guest. It was my old high school teacher who is a Rabbi for a “young and trendy” congregation in LA. She was talking about the upcoming “days of awe” and the Leonard Cohen song, “Who by Fire” played.
Chills went up my spine.
Not just because of the bluesy sound and gravelly voice in the song, but because of the lyrics. You see, “Who by Fire” is an interpretation of a prayer said on these Jewish high holidays. It’s actually rather morbid.
The traditional prayer translates:
On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed,
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed.
How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,
Who shall live and who shall die,
Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not,
Who shall perish by water and who by fire,
Who by sword and who by wild beast,
and in Cohen’s version:
And who by fire, who by water,
who in the sunshine, who in the night time,
who by high ordeal, who by common trial,
who in your merry merry month of may,
who by very slow decay,
and who shall I say is calling?
both Cohen’s song and the prayer go on and get even more morbid and depressing…..but you get the idea.
This really got me thinking.
I find both of these prayers (and yes, I think Cohen’s version may be considered a prayer) both hopeful and intimidating. But what I really like is how Cohen addresses a question many people, not just Jews, have when he says, “And who shall I say is calling?”. We know we are here. We can’t say with the same certainty that God is. After the Holocaust, a lot of Jews lost faith. I know this well because most of my family died or suffered through it. My dad’s parents lost faith in God. They still celebrated the holidays and whatnot, but its hard to believe in such a force when you endure such torment. And you know what, the same goes for recovery.
I’m not saying recovery is “god”, but its like the idea of god. We can’t see it, it doesn’t have a size or shape, its not even a coherent idea. So why should people struggle to achieve it? In God we trust? Do we trust recovery? Do we have faith in it? Its hard to believe there is life where I dont care about my activity level, where calories are meaningless, and where taking up space is appreciated. Do I believe it exists?
I’ve had issues since I was fourteen. Thats about a decade. And I know women that suffered for over 50 years! Is recovery in possible? I guess Mr. Cohen and I have similar questions of faith.
But you know what. Although I’m not a religious jew, I do think there is a higher power within all of us. Is it god? I’m not one to argue, I hate getting into religious debates. But I have faith in that higher power and you know what, I think I have faith in recovery. I can’t tell you what it looks like, but I trust it. I’m learning to trust my body. And this year, I think I will repent to myself. I will say I’m sorry to myself for all the unkind things I’ve done to it. For all the days of malnourishment, for over exerting, for not sleeping enough, for drinking too much caffeine. I’m sorry for not honoring it. For not treating it with kindness and respect. I deserve it.
So even for you non-jews out there, what are you sorry for? I know, we shouldn’t apologize for most things, but there are things that need fixing and there are aspect of our life worth reflecting on so that next year will be a happier one. Do you have faith?
Anyhow……totally unrelated…..today is just a simple sundae idea made with
vanilla flavored yogurt
cooked spaghetti squash
coconut flakes (optional, but I used em!)