Yom Kippur: Fast, Repent and Atone
Tonight at sundown is the beginning of Yom Kippur, which is part of the largest celebration of the Jewish calendar (like Christmas is to the Christians). The celebration of Rosh HaShana, or the welcoming in of the Jewish New Year. Yom Kippur closes out the old Year with a somber 24 hours of fasting, repentance and atonement.
As you and I deepen into our spiritual journey, we come to realize that the stories which hold the different religions together are unique to the culture of the religion. However, the spirit underneath the story and the practices to connect with the spirit are similar. It is here where we can connect with each other. As Rumi says, “it is a field beyond the ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing.” In all faiths there are practices of fasting, repentance and atonement.
I like to pay attention to what is going on within the religious and spiritual communities as fields are created and made more potent through collective agreement. This is not only something I can feel and know directly when I get quiet, science has now proven this to be true. Why not, then, take time today and/or tomorrow to fast, repent and atone?
Let’s look at each practice.
Fasting is a practice of drinking water and not consuming food, giving the body and opportunity to have a break from its ongoing work of digestion. It is a form of physical cleansing and has been used by doctors historically as a way to reset the body and open to healing. In addition, religious communities have utilized fasting as a way to place one’s mind fully upon Spirit. To take attention off of what to eat (thought) and the doingness of preparing (physical) and place for one full day attention upon the Realm of The Invisible Infinite — God. How do you do this? You can come with a question and sit in it for a day. You can chant, pray, contemplate on scripture, or my favorite — meditate in silence.
Repent literally means “to change one’s mind,” or to “move from sin to amendment.” So today, what are you to change your mind about? Or, what are you being called to mend within your thoughts? Today I am engaging in thoughts of overwhelm. I just returned from a trip to Ireland (best trip EVER) and I can feel tasks pulling at me from outside of me and then my to-do list piling up inside of me. My thoughts are going to lack — not enough time — and today my commitment is to actively shift this thought toward the gratitude of plenty. A literal practice of repenting.
To atone means to be at-one or to reconcile that which has become separate. Today I take inventory. What have I severed in thought that belongs together? Where have I inserted opinion that is not mine to insert? Where have I judged another and made wrong? Where have I belittled? Where have I kept someone stuck within my mind holding them bondage? All great questions. So today I make a list and bring them into my quiet time of prayer. I ask blessings to be sent to those I have judged as enemies. I ask to have my heart expanded and for me to see the Go(o)d throughout my life. This time for me is very intimate as I sit with God in conversation.
Then tomorrow night, the Jews will celebrate. They will break bread with their families and officially welcome in a new year; as will I.