Sadness and Light
Although unorthodox to stay home and to write on Yom Kippur, I too am self-reflecting and soul searching in my own way today.
To me, now, it is not where or how one observes the Day of Atonement. It is the fact of observance that is important (although I did miss hearing the chanting of Kol Nidre last night).
Of the many rituals of the day, the one that draws me to introspection is the lighting of the yahrzeit candle (a memorial candle) for my parents.
And in that context, today is a day of sadness and light for me. Let me explain.
My memories of the High Holy Days, especially Yom Kippur, are inextricably tied to memories of my father, with whom, as a child I always went to religious services. In my memory, my mother was at home taking care of my little sisters and/or preparing for when we returned from the synagogue.
Dad was strict about my going with him. I am sure this was due to his Orthodox upbringing, although as a family in my youth we were always aligned with the Reform Movement.
As a little boy and even as a teenager, it was hard for me to sit through the services, even though I was with my Dad. Thankfully, in my adult years I had less shpilkis and was able to enjoy the music and the prayers that surrounded me and allowed for the journey within.
Yet the music and prayers ultimately are superfluous to me now. I feel as if I am able to look within myself, soul-search, harmonize my life, and realign my outlook toward the future, through self reflection and writing instead.
This self-reflection may be the result of the heightened sensitivity for it from my mediator training. If so, this is yet another bonus from the choices I have made in my life’s work. But I digress.
Nevertheless, on this Yom Kippur I miss the quiet presence of my father. Mom too, although she wasn’t so quiet.
I look sadly into the yahrzeit candle for its light (inspiration) and I seek my father’s advice and counsel for the fresh start that Yom Kippur provides.
I think I know what he would say. They are the same sorts of things he has always told me:
∙ to try to do my best in all that I do;
∙ not to do to others what I wouldn’t want done to me;
∙ not to hold a grudge;
∙ not to compare myself with others whose grass is greener;
∙ to offer kindness to strangers;
∙ to acknowledge that we all make mistakes and to apologize when it happens;
∙ to keep my chin up when disappointments occur;
∙ to relish life’s rewards but not to gloat about them;
∙ to love my family exuberantly and unconditionally;
∙ to enjoy the abundance and beauty of nature; and
∙ to find satisfaction and contentment with my life overall.
So, in the sadness and the light of this Yom Kippur, let these be my guidelines going forward, thanks to my father, may his soul be bound up in the bond of everlasting life.
David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California, who also likes to reflect and write. His business website is http://karpmediation.com .