Monday, September 01, 2008

Returning to Elul

This morning at minyan we marked the first of Elul, the last month of the Jewish yearly spiritual cycle. It was a lively service with a great turnout. About 40 of us gathered in the chapel to sing Hallel, listen to the Torah reading, and hear the sound of the shofar. This call will be repeated each non-Shabbat morning of the month, heightening the anticipation of the Yamim Noraim--the Days of Awe--the High Holidays of Rosh HaShonah and Yom Kippur. It's a time to turn inward, to take stock of the state of your heart and soul and see what needs some tuning.

Two years ago as I marked the start of Elul, I was mourning the loss of the physical center of my spiritual life--the previous Beth Sholom building. I had major concerns as to how our community would survive Bamidbar--scattered in our wilderness.

Last year I dedicated this time to working on a release of the clutter in my life. I needed to physically clear the clutter of too much "stuff" and the mentally clear the clutter that still lingered five years after my cancer diagnosis.

This year I'm still clearing the clutter but with the realization that will be a continual process. It will most probably become part of my Elul practice. So what will this year's Teshuvah, repentance, returning, be for me? Perhaps that I need to see clearing as a cleansing release not as a throwing away. The difference is subtle and if you don't get it--don't worry, I'm not sure I do either. But I plan to use these next 30 days to try and figure it out