Monday, October 02, 2006

The Hardest Word

Today is Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar (Also known as the Day of Atonement). On this day, Jewish people (even secular Jews) observe by fasting and attending synagogue. They believe that today God opens three books: one book has the names of the super good (Mother Theresa) , another the super bad (Adolf Hitler) and the third lists the names of the folks in the middle (you, me and pretty much everyone we know). The first two books are fairly easy to deal with (going up or down) but the third requires God to make a case-by-case judgement depending on their good works and whether they have made a penitent confession for all the bad acts they have committed during the year.

In addition to making a sincere apology, "The Day of Atonement absolves from sins against God, but not from sins against a fellow human unless the pardon of the offended person be secured."(source) In otherwords, we ask and give forgiveness to others around us.

I've often heard ministers explain the word "atonement" as "at-ONE-ment," the point being that apology and forgiveness makes us "at ONE" with God and each other. Although in the Christian religion, we believe that it is by God's grace, not good works that gets us the golden ticket to Graceland (no, not Elvis' home, the other one), we do believe in saying sorry and forgiveness. Yesterday in church, we prayed this not only in the Lord's Prayer (forgive us our sins as we forgive others who sin against us) but also in the mea culpa ( I have sinned through my own fault,In my thoughts and in my words, In what I have done, and what I have failed to do.) and again before communion (Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed). And of course for Catholics there is a private, one-on-one time with a priest where you apologize for messing up and the priest (on God's behalf) forgives you.

It was ironic, then that my boyfriend/partner and I would have words that very afternoon over a misunderstanding. (I thought I was helping him by questioning every purchase he was trying to make at the hardware store, he felt belittled-and rightly so.) Apologies were made afterwards and again this morning over coffee, eggs and toast. Of course we both knew the other one was sorry but it really meant a great deal to have that verbalized and to be formally forgiven for it, like what happens in a Catholic confession or at Yom Kippur. And that's what saying sorry all about I suppose- it making us "at-one" with each other!

Perhaps, like Christmas, Yom Kippur should be a daily occurrence, rather than annual event?


connie said...

Amen. Great post, Dan.

meghantheobold84985442 said...
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