There is a legend about a man named Yameel, the swiftest runner and most reliable messenger in all of Africa. One day, a village elder found Yameel standing motionless in the middle of a path. The leader asked, “Why have you stopped in the middle of your mission?” Yameel answered, “I have been running so fast that I have left my soul behind. I am standing here waiting for my soul to catch up to me.”
The Yamim Noraim – the High Holy Days – remind us to consider how we have been running this past year and they provide us time for our souls to “catch-up.” Perhaps we have been carried away by conflicting concerns or stretched by the demands on our time, energy, and emotional resources. Maybe, we have committed ourselves to too many worthwhile projects. Or, we consider how we are spending our time and we realize there isn’t enough meaning to make our scrambling worthwhile. We have helped everyone in everything at every time and in so doing have failed to take care of ourselves. We have focused so much on our own needs that we have failed to see the needs of others.
The shofar beckons us to consider our lives and to listen to the brokenness in our own souls. During these High Holy Days, let the sound of the shofar call out to you with the staccato shevarim notes of fragmentation and the tekiah signifying the possibility of wholeness. The shofar summons us to hear the truths in our lives – the way we chalk-up “busyness” to achievement, ambition, and service. The shofar prompts us to reflect on the ways our spirits have become torn and our souls are shackled. And the shofar also encourages us to contemplate what is yet possible: to connect with our breath, the beauty of nature, to slip the constraints of calendars and clocks, to find strength in community and friendship, and tranquility in connections or needed solitude.
This is my prayer during these High Holy Days. May your dinner tables at these High Holy Days be filled with love, laughter and strength. May these days be an opportunity for creative spiritual acts – slowing down, spending time with people you care about, letting go of your need to work or buy, reaching out to God in song and in silence, reflecting on your life, and catching up with your soul. And may we hear the call of the shofar – by considering the ways we can repair the fragmentation and brokenness. May the opportunity for reflection and renewal galvanize us to the sacred work of living life well. Shanah Tovah u-‘Metukah – May you have a sweet, healthy, and happy New Year!