Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Days of Awe

In honor of the Days of Awe, I'm reviving a post from a year ago and reposting it with a few updates/revisions. A sweet year to all of you, and thanks for reading.

I usually don't listen to the radio on Sunday mornings while eating breakfast because I'm letting myself ease into the zone of writing and don't want to be distracted. But this past Sunday morning, I got engaged in a broadcast of the wonderful Speaking of Faith and an interview with Rabbi Sharon Brous about the Jewish High Holidays (which began last night). Rabbi Brous says that in her congregation during the High Holiday services, she pushes her congregants to lie prostrate--flat on their faces, hands outstretched and palms up. The more uncomfortable they are with doing this, she says, the more important that they do it--if only for a few seconds or minutes.
I couldn't find a photo that looked exactly like what she described, but I think you can picture it. The idea for Rabbi Brous is that when she prostrates herself in this way, she is acknowledging and accepting and experiencing the lack of control, submitting to some higher power. I'm not saying it as well or beautifully as she did, so I encourage you to listen. Here is some of what she has to say about the Days of Awe, from her website.
These are days in which we step out of our daily routines and attain a sense of the sublime, a sensitivity to the mystery of life. Each year we are given the gift of time to reflect seriously on the people we have become, and dream once again about who we can be. We engage in heshbon hanefesh - intensive self reflection, in which we review our behavior over the past year, identifying mistakes and shortcomings. And we make teshuvah - serious, sincere return, as we work to refine ourselves and repair broken relationships. We connect and reconnect with the best of ourselves, our family members, our friends, and God. Through this process, if we do it right, we are able to discover a renewed sense of wonder and mission in our lives.
Ah. There's an image with the open palms. 
    This year, as the Days of Awe begin, I am deeply into yet another revision of my second novel--with feedback from my agent as well as several trusted readers. Writing and revising are arduous, but I believe I am working toward greater depth, and toward realizing the potential of the story and the characters.
And simultaneously my husband and I have just returned from New Orleans, where we visited our daughter, and where one still (five+ years post-Katrina) feels such a rush of hope and devastation and recovery.
Not sure how to end this post. Perhaps I'll just lower myself onto the floor right now. Palms up to the sky.

6 comments:

rasirds@cox.net said...

Since there is no correct way to acknowledge the Jewish High Holidays, I want to wish the same for all people, Peace and Health!

I wish a healthy, peaceful New Year to every Jew.

On a more personal note, thank you so much, Susan, for sharing yourself and your dreams. You are an inspiration. Only the best to you and yours.

Rose D. Sigman

Susan Messer said...

Thank you, Rose. Same to you.

Jim Poznak said...

I heard the same radio broadcast, and I was struck by the diversity of religious and secular practice and belief amongst Jewish people. Surely other faiths and religions, including Islam, are equally diverse.

Susan Messer said...

Yes, absolutely. Good point. When we know very little about a group, we tend to paint it with one big brush and assume a homogeneous "they." We have to enter into the group and/or know individuals before we can see the complexity and variations.

Margaret P. said...

Wonderful use of photos in this blog.

Susan Messer said...

Thanks, Margaret. When I started the blog, I didn't use any photos at all, but a wise friend suggested that visuals were important, so I try my best.