Between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are the ten days of awe, a time when Jews are supposed to make right anything that’s wrong between them and their fellow beings on this planet. This calling is based on the premise that while we can mend our relationship with god through prayer, we need to take action for any rents in our social fabric. Of course, this leads to apologies for big and little things, recognitions of past hurts inflicted by accident or not, and a whole lot of contemplation.
Last year I received a phone call during this time from someone I only saw every few years but with whom I had a conflict. He called to say he heard about the Days of Awe from a Jewish friend, and was sorry and wanted to make amends. We talked about how we unintentionally stepped all over each other’s stuff, and I asked him to forgive me too. By the time I hung up, I was inspired to call someone I had hurt and begin the hard process of making amends, speaking truthfully on painful subjects, taking responsibility and listening carefully.
A year later, I have nothing so dramatic to report — some small apologies for small things, but mostly a larger sense that this time of transition from one Jewish year to another, summer to fall, celebration to repentance, is wider and deeper the older I get. Struggling with a respiratory infection, it’s also a little hard to get all contemplative and generous, and yet I’m watching my thoughts move in that direction. I will follow those thoughts with phone calls and emails, little talks in person and private wishes for those I love because I know these days of awe teach me more about living a life of awe.