A day of atonement

September 21, 2007

Have you ever had one of those days where the same story or message seemed to keep cropping up?

I have had just such one of those days.

A little over two years ago, I married a man who speaks Hebrew. I love when he speaks Hebrew. I’m a sheltered German, waspy girl, and sometimes my partnership with Jon feels like we’re making something cosmically “right.”

I think that there probably needs to be about a billion times more love than what we’ve been able to muster to really counteract all the pain that has been inflicted in the last 100 years, but even so, we cherish our unlikely partnership and the different perspective it has brought to each of us because of the cultures in which we were raised — He as an Eastern Jewish boy from the city, and my country-girl, ultra-conservative Protestant upbringing.

My serendipitous day began with a story about a woman who died. A young woman. And then it was another. And then it was a woman who is lovingly facing cancer and the thought of her own death.

I looked up at my calendar not long ago and read that Yom Kippur begins in about two hours, at sunset. I have learned that this is a day of asking forgiveness — a day of atonement — a day of soul-searching and reflection. And I wonder: Could that be what’s going on with me and in me?

Four years ago, I didn’t even know about this day. I find myself feeling grateful that I, though I’m not religious and don’t espouse religion, can benefit from a day set aside for forgiveness and atonement.

My journey continues to take me deeper than I ever dreamed I would go. I try to learn the principles of Loving Kindness — of loving and forgiving myself so that I can truly love others better — with no hurt feelings, no grudges, no trying to make them anything they’re not. To remember that simply being there is the best gift we can ever give to one another, but that most of all, we must be there for ourselves first.

I can’t imagine that I will fast on this high holiday as many people will. But I may light a candle and ask whomever is listening to help me be kinder to myself and others. To help me let go of pain so that I can embrace real people, with all of their flaws and anguish, knowing that it’s not about me.

Loving Spirit, I ask for grace this day so that we will all be kinder to ourselves and others. Help us reach inside to the love and beauty that exists in each of us so that we do not pollute others with our pain but can reach out as healing lights. Thank you for this life, this forum and these friends. Please bless them, each and every one.

Wishing you peace today and always, from my heart.

~ Angela



  1. I think that this is a good practice for every day. And I think that there are no coincidences so you are right to look for the message in your day.


  2. Happy Yom Kippur to you too. Beautiful sentiment, beautiful prayer.

  3. Beautiful. I grew up Adventist, which has some similarities at its roots to the Jewish culture. I have always been fascinated with the customs and traditions…

  4. Beautiful! I think mindfulness is always a good thing, no matter which method we use to encourage it.



  5. Blessings and peace to you and yours, dear friend, on this day and all days. An inspiring tale you offered, and just about the time I could use one. I love cultural mixes in relationships because they open up new dimensions to both partners and that is always a good thing.

  6. “But I may light a candle and ask whomever is listening to help me be kinder to myself and others. To help me let go of pain so that I can embrace real people, with all of their flaws and anguish, knowing that it’s not about me.”

    Beautiful, just absolutely beautiful.

  7. Thanks, everyone. After reading the stories I did yesterday, I wanted you all to know how much you mean to me, even if we haven’t met face to face. This interaction has been inspiring and healing for me, and I am truly grateful for each one of you.

  8. Happy New Year. I didn’t fast, I don’t really celebrate, but I do try to live everyday as if it were judged. So, for me, One day will not make a difference in the year I set my example. I hope a good year for you and yours.

  9. And bless you…

  10. Thanks, Pool! I wholeheartedly agree. As I talked more with Jon about it, his perception of what the day meant and what I was hoping it would mean were fairly different (i.e. he saw it very much along the lines of confession, which I don’t particularly agree with, depending on the intent of the person confessing). I need wake-up calls, though, unfortunately, and this was a good reminder of the things that *I* have done this last year that I’d like to abstain from in the future.

    Thank you, Beth. I’m so glad we found each other!

  11. I am so far behind and just catching up, but I did want to say how much I like this post. I always liked Ash Wednesday for the same reason – a chance to reflect and recognize our imperfect nature, but in a gentle way.

  12. Thanks, CS. I like that gentleness you speak of. I’m grateful for it in my life and am trying to encourage others around me who are truly too hard on themselves. But the idea of knowing ourselves instead of focusing our energy on knowing others has really been with me these last few months. I’m grateful for these opportunities when I am reminded to look inward, not in a self-absorbed way, but as a way of cleansing myself so that I can be a brighter light for others.

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