Two years ago we left the synagogue I called home for 38 years. For a multitude of reasons it was no longer the right fit for our family of four. So, we "shul shopped."
This year during our shul shop, we decided to pray with our Chabad Rabbi, his wife, their children, and a community we are just starting to get to know. While our daughters attend religious school with these wonderful people, our family had yet to pray with them.
(Make no mistake, at this point "these" and "them" is now an "us.")
During the service, which by the way I enjoyed, the Rabbi delivered his sermons. In years past I have listened to sermons, but not with the concentration I had this year. This year, with a smaller community, my husband on the other side of the mechitza, and my children participating in a meaningful children's program, I was able to truly listen.
The message? A new year or another year? Interesting.
As the Rabbi explained, there is always another year. The Jewish new year happens each year (and I thought so does January 1st). With two chances at a new year, was I really making it a new year or another year? The Rabbi went on to discuss how we all get another year, but it is up to us to make it a new year. Will we change how we react to people, will we change our family dynamics, will we make a conscious decision to have a true new year.
The Jewish new year this year happened right after Hurricane Harvey hit our area. Devastation occurred physically and emotionally for all those involved.
A new year? Was it possible to take something like the hurricane and find a spiritual connection to it all? Maybe, just maybe for me the hurricane is a reminder to let all the "stuff" wash away in an effort to have this new year.
My girls have a new year. It is almost inevitable. As you grow your desires, needs, expressions, mannerisms mature. As a child, your year is new whether you're in control or not. You learn new things in school, achieve new milestones, make new friends, have new, age appropriate challenges - all of which allow you the courtesy of a new year. I do not believe my children have ever had another year.
But what about us? The adults. Are we blessed with the same unconditional new year? The answer is no. We may have new challenges and new joys, but the majority of us react the same way. We continue to yell at traffic, get pissy with a friend, spouse, sibling for not meeting our expectations, experience frustrations at what could be considered small stuff, while being completely overwhelmed with the big stuff. Yes we laugh and smile, but is it the same laugh and same smile?
At 40, is it possible for me to look inward enough and guarantee myself a new year? I sure hope so. I am self aware enough to know that I have tried (for a long time now) to give myself a new year vs. another year. Some days resemble this new year. A year filled with new hopes, renewed patience, a more genuine smile, and a deeper laugh. And then there are days that resemble another year.
My prayer for this year, my new year, is that each day I remember to have this new year. I want to fulfill that promise to myself, my family, my friends. I want to be able to have a fresh outlook, see the world with a new pair of eyes, and relish in the newness that I may have forgotten. I want to let go of any judgement, anger, or frustration that I am holding onto and let it wash away with the horrific flood waters from a few weeks ago.
Another year? No.
A new year filled with hopes, possibilities, and anything else I dream? Yes. Yes, indeed.
Thank you Rabbi. Your words are powerful.