Atonement: When Missing the Mark Means Making Space for More Love

If you think the first thing I’m going to ask forgiveness for is how long I’ve gone without writing a blog, you’re wrong, and there’s a good reason why…

Let’s start with the concept of Atonement and why this blog, why today.

I was raised Jewish. I have always been a spiritual seeker and religion fascinated me. I’ve done a great deal of spiritual seeking and world religion studies. I attended Hebrew school and was Bat Mitzvahed and confirmed. I became a Hebrew school teacher as soon as I was Bat Mitzvahed. I grew up in a conservative synagogue and studied a lot because I wanted to be a cantor. When I was 17, in cantorial studies at my local synagogue, I went to Israel and the long and short of that is that is I decided I would not want to make my spirituality my job. I just so loved to sing spirit. That is the job of the cantor, interpreting liturgy through song. I still love to sing spirit and that is how I write.

Yes, with this project and with so much of the rest of the construct of my life spirituality is my job. And also, it fulfills me terrifically to be in practice with it. However, it has grown into a more authentic shape and that shape continues to adjust in time.

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the day of atonement for Jewish people. This day remains important enough to me that I took the day off and I continue to use it for atoning and for reflecting, even though I don’t go to a synagogue service in order to do so. There are several things that Judaism taught me about the day that stay with me in thought, ritual, and practice. Those teachings act as guide posts to my experience of atonement on this one day a year.

Atonement. Starts with At One, and that is how my practice starts too. First I think of the Divine relationship I hold. That is I do believe in “G-d”, though the word is unimportant to me because of the religious stigmas now attached in ways I don’t align. I do believe in a DIVINE center in each of us that connects all of us, a universal energy and a core that is G-d inside of yourself. So when we talk to G-d, we talk to our highest good, our own purest self. That center is your power, your wisdom, your uniqueness, your potential, your capacity, your truest love.

I talk to that part of me and say, “In this past year, where have I missed the mark?” You see, the word that has been translated into SIN in the King James bible (sin is not an old testament word) actually is the same word that archers use when you miss the bullseye. All it really means is you missed the mark. Where did you miss the mark? I find that question much more helpful and accessible and HOY BOY do I come up with plenty of answers.

There’s another several rituals in Judaism that I still find beneficial. Go to a body of water and get a pile of throwing stones. For every stone attach to it something you’ve done in the last year, or since your last atonement, where you missed the mark. Before you throw the stone too you need to really commit to two things: apologizing to any other being affected by this, and committing to not doing the behavior again, otherwise you cannot atone for it. I love these rules.

* I could not make going to the beach happen this year (my marriage is now just 30 days away, life is so busy!) but I still did the work of behavioral analysis, just without this same ritual. Tonight I go to the bathhouse to connect releasing the behaviors with release of sweat and body cleanse. Always customize ritual to remain helpful and actively functional with your life.*

For me this has meant that similarly to how a full moon ritual of releasing fear and worry actually shows you what you should focus on, releasing where you missed the mark and saying you won’t do it again resets you and launches new helpful behaviors to replace the released.

I have been absolutely  transformed by this holiday many times. I’m so grateful for it. And now I’m also eager for the year to come as I recommit to some important behaviors.

This year was incredibly easy for me to see where I’ve missed the mark and it was a bit weird because it wasn’t in hurting others and making many mistakes for which I needed to ask for forgiveness. *Definitely that has been the case in other years and I do not shame you if that is your case right now, this is how you face it and change it. My journey was different this year.* In fact, it was hurting myself, not believing in myself, and asking for forgiveness all the time that is the issue. I need to love me again. I need to change my words to reflect my power and capacity and belief in my DIVINE self.

In the last three years I’ve changed career paths a couple of times and I’ve not been doing a lot of what defined me for so many years. This has shaken my identity and really thrown me into a lot of self doubt drama. It’s also all crap because truly even as this different human with time differently filled I’m still awesome. I make mistakes, of course. But I do not hold malicious intentions. I do not damage others in my environment. Every day, I try with my full heart to come from love and service to the betterment of self, family, and this world. I deserve to feel good as I do good.

I will figure out my new relationship with art but in the meantime I will honor my identity as it is. A mom of 7 animals, a lover of my terrific partner, a helper at a theatre that brings culture to citizens of cities that matter to me. And a lightworker seeker coming in to contact with more and more of this tribe right here.

On that note I sign off and encourage you to do this good work, friend. Find space and time to do honest self analysis of where you have missed the mark *remember to utilize compassion and a sense of humor* ask forgiveness of whomever has been affected by your behavior, commit to releasing the behavior, and turn a new page.

I’m excited for my new page. I wish you all a new beautiful bloom on your new page too. Blessed be.


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