Yom Kippur: Open Up Our Hearts


October 4, 2014

Holy one who blessed our ancestors, open our hearts to forgiveness                                                           that we may honestly see the world around us and our place in it.

I can’t remember a Yom Kippur when I didn’t cry. Always tears. For I have sinned. The scenes and screens of the last year flicker through my mind as the melodies fill the sanctuary. The times I yelled at my son. The times I let my eyes roll back in my head.  My amygdala hijacking all possibility for reconciliation, for favor between us – whoever us is. I see the whites of my eyes. Medusa flying snake hair of fury. And I cry.

Then I think of children without parents, and parents who lost kids to drugs or death or deeply rooted patterns they can’t even discern. And nations. Nations who lost generations. And I cry. For me. For them. And I own the guilt  – personally. I own the action. I have acted. I have hurt. Them. And I have hurt. Me.

Walked out of services last night, and my friend said, “When they were doing the mourner’s kaddish I thought to myself, ‘Is Gabriella’s mother ever going to die?’” Funny, for the last three years I have written her eulogy on this day or sometime between the Rosh and Yom Kippur. But now, this year, no.

I know she still sits in her bed. I know there are nurses and aides and all sorts of other helpers who take care of her, and yet I have pocketed the pressure I have felt for so long. The pressure to show up every week, dragging my son, dragging myself. Really just wanting to sit and rest or read or think, but feeling the Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon or holiday draw. It is my duty. If not mine than whose? It is my due.

But is it? Is it my due to have the job of this mother? To have had the job of this life – the more downs than ups? The more hard than easy? There was always more risk than reward, more fear than steadiness. No. I say. No. And I forgive myself. I forgive myself for needing to have been loved when I wasn’t. For not attaching “right” as a small child to a parent that could not attach to a shoe if it were a buckle. I forgive myself for blaming myself for what wasn’t, for the sins and sicknesses, and the self-absorbed demanding of attention.  I could never  have succeeded. It was not to me. It was not due to me. It is not my due today. Nor is it any of those children’s who have believed it was theirs. It was the world around us. Not our place in it.

And so I turn my face to the sun of forgiveness. And I cry. I cry because I know I will be here again every year of my life. The frailty and imperfection of humanness leading me back; returning, always again to the forgiveness place. The place of here – the heart and belly – of TODAY.

©Gabriella Strecker, 2016

Image courtesy of http://www.joshuanhook.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/word-art-heart-painting-forgive-original.jpeg