I don’t know what I need or want for the High Holy Days this year. I don’t love synagogue services, because what I wind up is loving a piece of this liturgy here and a portion of this interpretation here and this song over here. No one service at one synagogue has ever hit it right on the nose for me.
But this year, I find myself mourning the loss of what was always imperfect. I want to just go to synagogue for Yom Kippur and sit in services all day, because I can’t.
Currently I am a member of two communities—one in my hometown of Milton, which is unaffiliated, egalitarian and ritually traditional. I know I want to attend the outdoor shofar service and Tashlich on the second day. I know I don’t want to sit on Zoom for any portion of Rosh Hashanah. It might be different if I wasn’t spending all day sitting on Zoom doing telehealth. But it isn’t, and I am. My 8-year-old feels the same way. He doesn’t want anything to do with Zoom classes. We’re all Zoomed out in this house.
Will we, though? Maybe. We signed up for a Zoom children’s puppet show because that seems about as much as I can digest. What else do I want to do for the first day of the new year in the Jewish calendar? What I want most of all is for this pandemic to be over. I’m weary. I am carrying my own weariness and the weariness of all my clients. We’re wearing down.
For Tashlich, what we let go of when we symbolically cast into a body of fresh water with breadcrumbs or rocks is the mistakes and missteps of the last year. But what I want to cast aside is this whole pandemic, our racist, rapist president, all the hate he’s unleashed and the cracks in our social welfare system created by mass unemployment, loss of health insurance and housing prices. I want to throw all that back and start 5781 anew.
But none of those things are in my control. What do we do for this holiday of renewal and reflection when the renewal and reflection we need is not within our control?
I guess we have to dig down deeper into ourselves and find the renewal inside ourselves this year. Think outside the box, connect with whatever gives you healing and renews your faith in humanity. We can’t go to synagogue this year anyway, so we might as well get creative. Leave aside the halacha this year, if you have to, and connect to the kavanah, the spiritual intention behind this season.
For me, maybe I’ll take a hike in the Blue Hills. If I wake up that morning and decide that’s what I need. I’m giving myself permission to do whatever the hell it is that makes me feel human again.
Pandemic Dreams of a Therapist
In my dream I go to work
In reality I’m still here in our guest room
In my dream my desk has been removed
In reality I see clients on a video screen
In my dream I am confused, why am I here?
In reality, my clients are as scared as I am.
In my dream I see my client anyway
In reality I only leave the house to hike or run or buy food.
In my dream he leaves and thick pollen covers everything
In reality I fear the virus is on everything I touch.
In my dream I cannot escape
In reality we cannot escape.
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