I love my husband. And my children. I love my job, and M&M’s, and blue hydrangeas. And shoes – I really love shoes.
Love. Such a casual, every-day word. We banter it about easily enough, often overlooking the gravitas, the exceptionality, the rarity of the word. Many of us approach the High Holy Days the same way. We talk casually about preparing for the holidays – shopping for Erev Rosh Hashanah dinner, sending out invitations to our Break Fast, buying tickets to Services, preparing our kids to stay home from school. All very mundane, very… functional.
Love demands more of us. To truly experience love, we must be present, we must give wholly of ourselves, open ourselves up to the awesomeness of another person and the profound discomfort of vulnerability. So, too, do our High Holy Days demand more of us. We must be present, we must give wholly of ourselves, open ourselves up to the awesomeness of our faith, our God, our traditions; and yes, embrace the vulnerability we feel when we ask ourselves, “Am I worthy of being inscribed in the Book of Life for another year?”
Love has shaped and changed my life in some very powerful ways. Love taught me patience – a trait that did not come naturally! – as I strived to be a good mother to my boys. Love taught me compassion when I witnessed the pain and anguish of those close to me. And love left scars from a broken heart that at the time I thought would never heal.
And so I wonder, as we enter into these holiest of days, will we choose to move past the ordinary and seek the extraordinary? My wish for us all is that we will open our hearts, our minds, and our souls to the vast and deep emotion brought on by these Days of Awe, allowing ourselves to be transformed by our faith as powerfully and profoundly as we have by love.
Sue Worrel is the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte and a proud 15-year member of Temple Beth El.