For the first time in many years, I celebrated Rosh Hoshahnah and Yom Kippur a month ago openly and in the company of others. It was comforting, warm, loving, and revealing. Working with other members and friends at First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Massachusetts, I explored meanings in the two Jewish High Holy Days that I had not seen when I was a kid. I found community and acceptance I had not known before from Jewish tradition.
Most importantly, I was moved by a set of questions that Marta Flanagan, who is both our minister as well as my partner, prepared for the people studying for these holidays. The questions have been on my desk for well more than a month now, and I thought I'd repeat them here. These are provocative questions.
A Personal Inventory
Possible Queries for a New Year
At the Jewish High Holy Days of 2010
From the Rev. Marta Morris Flanagan
Have I harmed another?
Have I acknowledged the damage I have done?
Have I offered a word, an action, a gift in reparation?
Have I forgiven those who have harmed me?
Have I seen in the other what is worthy as well as what is not?
Do I know my own part?
Have I chosen life?
Have I neglected another in need?
Do I understand what leads me to neglect?
Am I ready to say "yes" to the next invitation to care?
Have I taken advantage of another?
Have I expressed to them my gratitude?
Have I given of myself in return?
Have a broken a promise, a commitment to myself?
Have I fully beheld the consequences of my action?
Am I ready to renew my commitment to myself?
Have I been welcoming of the stranger?
one much richer, much poorer than I,
one more educated, less educated than I,
one who votes differently,
acts differently, thinks differently than I?
Have I opened my heart to one who is different>?
Have I been tender toward those I know?
Have I remembered the good in them?
Have I let go of what is unimportant?
Have I been a good citizen?
caring for the various communities of which I am a part?
Have I taken risks for a greater good?
Have I spoken up when needed?
Have I kept quiet when wise?
Have I engaged in healthy living?
eating what is good for me, for the world?
Consuming what I need and no more?
Traveling by foot, by bicycle, or with others when I can?
Have I planted or tended a piece of the earth?
Have I grown?
Has my heart softened?
Has my mind engaged something new?
Is my innermost life rich and deep?
Do I know joy?
Do I know myself as the recipient of many gifts in life?
Have I given thanks? to another? to perhaps God? to the world?
Do I know the privileges I enjoy?
Do I make room for others?
Do I speak with love?
Do I act swiftly with kindness?
Do I move with patience, avoiding the hurried way?
Do I pay attention?
Do I turn when called?