I hope that this fourth week of writing will be filled with discovery and meaningful insight, and that the coming weeks of the holidays themselves will be enriched by the hard good spiritual work you’ve done this month. I suggest you can continue working with these prompts throughout the holidays – doing further writing, perhaps taking your notebook with you to synagogue on Yom Kippur and reading through the questions and insights with which you have been occupying yourself in preparation for the Days of Awe.
Prompts for Week 4
~ On Rosh Hashanah we celebrate the birth of the world, experiencing God as Creator. What new world do you envision for yourself in the coming year? Allow yourself to fantasize, dream.
follow-up – Consider how you are a creator – what is your creative life and what do you want it to be? How can you infuse your daily life with freshness, with wonder? What new interest, new passion, will keep your brain alive and supple this year?
~ Another central theme of Rosh Hashanah focuses on Zichronot/Remembrances of loss. We experience so many different kinds of losses in any given year – a beloved who has died; a relationship that ended, badly or well; a hope or dream whose time has irrevocably passed and needs to be honored, mourned. Sometimes it is possible to find healing, a sense of peace, sometimes the loss never fully heals. What has been one particular powerful loss you are experiencing? Tell the story – what was precious, how have you mourned? changed? Where are you now?
~ The shofar blasts evoke multiple meanings – calling us to revelation, heralding redemption; it is the animal cry of “the wounded beast” that cracks our hearts open to teshuvah/repentance, the primal call waking us from our slumber. What causes your spiritual somnolence? How can you tell when you are sleepwalking? Who in your life will help rouse you when they see you fall asleep?
~ Identify two or three people in your life who can serve as teachers/mentors for you – perhaps a rabbi, a spiritual director, a counselor, a friend, a loved one – choose one or two individuals and schedule regular time to meet with them. When you feel ready, discuss with them your hopes for yourself this year, your fears, your concerns, your goals. Invite them to listen, to witness, to support your desire to be your truest self in the coming year.
~ Write a tefillat haderech for yourself - a traveling prayer for the road - for the journey of this new year.
I feel honored to have guided you through this journey and am eager to hear about your experience of doing this writing and reflection. I would be grateful if you would use the Contact page to offer feedback on this course. What was especially meaningful and why? How often did you write and in what other ways did you engage with the materials? Did you wind up writing with a partner or a group? What did you struggle with? A particular question for clergy - how might this program be of greater help to you? And finally, a question for all - what kinds of programs would you be interested in my offering going forward?
If you have found this resource valuable, please visit the Donate page to make a contribution to the site. I invite you to continue to visit Derekh.org throughout the year as my husband Eddie and I offer podcasts, online courses, guest teachers, poetry readings and a host of materials of interest to clergy and lay seekers.
I end as I began, with gratitude. Thank you to Marc Silverman whose tech support was very helpful at a crucial juncture; and inexpressible ongoing appreciation to our webmaster, Lisa Feld, for all she provided to birth this project and on all aspects of Derekh - her competence, patience, kindness and creativity are unparalleled.
Finally, appreciation to each of you who participated. May you be inscribed and sealed for a sweet new year of health and promise! Shana tova umetuka.