As someone whose faith tradition lacks much in the way of a liturgical year, I am drawn to the Jewish holidays. They are, after all, the ones set forth in the Bible. Extreme Protestantism leaves one a bit bereft… we don’t do Lent or Advent or Saint’s Days. Easter and Christmas, that’s it. (I have no idea why we don’t do anything with Pentecost, since my denomination considers itself somewhat charismatic). The Biblical holidays are beautiful, and very meaningful. But holidays are not something that one can do on one’s own, out of context with community. I tried that one year! My family was tolerant but not interested. So, I observe the Jewish holidays as an admirer.
Rosh Hashanah 2023 lends itself to a day of reflection, as it was a year ago that I submitted to a very necessary surgery. That surgery, and those that followed were part of my year and more of chrysalis time. This year has not been easy, and I have not been inactive, although it seems frustratingly so!
In many ways I am in the same state that I was. In other ways, I am not. My faith has deepened, and my acceptance of the struggle between a deepening faith and desires for certainty in the future has been a hallmark of this time. It’s been a hard year. A very hard year. And every time I am certain that I should throw in the towel on this or that or the other thing, I am given a small miracle. Hard or not, my faith in God is deeper than it has ever been. Chrysalis time? Or should I call this Winter, with storms that tug and whistle through my branches, forcing me to grow deeper, tighter roots? I thought Fall was Winter, and then Winter was long, and the snow is still on the ground, and I long for Spring with every fiber of my being.
Perhaps that is why I am reflecting this Rosh Hashanah. It is good to reflect, especially for those of us with impatient natures. Yes, this year has been very difficult for my physical body. But the things that have happened have – and continue to – prepare me to fly. I let rest happen to my book (Leaving Laodicea) which gave it time to marinate and become a much better work. I submitted to my own weakness, and learned to wait. I gave up much of my busyness – as much as I try to pick it back up, much of the habit has been broken. I am better at choice.
Rosh Hashanah 2023 finds me clear-headed. I know what I want. I know more of who I am. I know what I do not want… including many things that used to be on my “someday” list. I don’t know how I’ll get where I want to be, but I am at peace with that uncertainty, and at peace with the discomfort it brings. This season of dying, storms, pruning… oh, no. I have not enjoyed the process, and I cannot wait to go forward into a season of growth. But it has been good. And I can say with a full heart – Thank you, Lord. Your gifts, and Your timing, are perfect.