Heeding Our Wake-Up Call

August 2021       Elul 5781 


We are entering the new moon of the Hebrew month of Elul, the time to assess how we have navigated the waves and rapids of the past challenging year before we enter the New Year next month. As we come to the hard realization that life will not return to its previous form and rhythm, we question how we have lived an authentic life in the midst of the chaos and turmoil around us. Have we stayed true to that inner core of our being that defines our essential self despite the unexpected shifts required of us to negotiate new ways of living, working, praying?

The piercing cry of the shofar that we blow each morning during the month of Elul awakens me to the eternal nature of my being. Standing on the rocky shore of the lake with the wide expanse of water and sky in front of me, the primordial sound of the shofar vibrates through my body. It transports me both back in time and forward into a possible future where the dualities that are pulling me and all of us apart in this now moment merge into a newly inspired whole. 

My hope is that we can heed the lessons we have learned from the experience of this past year to guide us forward. When I smell the smoke of the Oregon fires and see the haze that darkens the morning sky and turns the rising sun bright orange here in Michigan, I know we cannot continue to disregard the earth’s warning. When I read that the fourth Capitol police officer who tried to guard the center of our democracy during the January insurrection committed suicide, my heart aches as I sense how traumatic and destructive the denials and untruths have become.

The questions I sit with as we welcome this new month: How can we live together on this sacred planet earth without tearing each other apart?  How can we bring the dualities together into a more harmonious whole, release blame and animosity, and come to a place of deep compassion for each other? Our tradition tells us that It is through forgiveness, the hallmark of this month, that we can transform the negative, divisive energy so prevalent in our political world into a healing balm, uniting the seeming opposites into a new whole.

It is through adversity and challenge that consciousness evolves. This is a global moment where we have all witnessed the devastating effects of disease, ecological disaster, and violent disagreement. This is a pivotal moment that can bring the peoples of the globe together in a new understanding of how to move forward in peace and harmony.

May we each individually add our voice to a new path forward with love in our hearts that can heal the wounds and brokenness of this past year. May we return to our connection with the holy spark of the Divine within ourselves and see the face of the Divine in each other. May we move into the New Year forgiving past transgressions and finding new ways to live and love and appreciate each other and this earth that sustains our every breath.