As I approach Rosh Hashanah this year, I am wondering about one line in Avinu Malkeinu:
“Our Father, Our King, hear our voice, have great mercy upon us.”
Our Father. My father passed away suddenly last Erev Rosh HaShana. It is now one year without my father. A year of emptiness and mourning.
Our King. The name of God as King passed away for me a number of years ago. God has an infinite number of names. But I no longer pray to a distant figure of looming judgment.
The names – “Our Father, Our King” – scream out loneliness and abandonment to me.
But I continue – “Hear our voice, have great mercy upon us.” And I call out these words with complete sincerity and hope.
One of my mentors, Parker Palmer, once said to me that a person is only as deep as his or her deepest contradiction.
Life is much more complex than I will ever understand. Sometimes it is too great a challenge to make the pieces all fit together. Even my pieces.
In the same line of Avinu Malkeinu I feel both an intense loneliness and intimacy.
My father is no long in this world, yet he is very close and alive for me. My God does not dwell in distant judgment, yet I beseech God for help and mercy.
For me, Rosh HaShana is standing with my whole self in front of the Holy of Holies – in full contradiction.
All of me is here, in one messy whole, the epitome of a work-in-progress. I stand in front of God now in the full wholeness of many parts: My successes and my glitches, my strengths and my weaknesses, my clarity and my confusion.
Avinu Malkeinu – I’m not exactly sure how all of the parts of my mind, heart, and soul are supposed to fit together. The symphony of my soul is playing without a conductor. Please have great mercy upon me and help this year be a year of harmony and oneness. I have tried for many years to achieve this, but now I am turning to You for help. Please have great mercy upon me and bequeath me moments of clarity and oneness.
And as long as I am standing here in front of You on this Holy Day, one more thing please – please let Your mercy reach all of the many contradictory parts of the Jewish People. We are a nation that has not yet figured out how to live in harmony together. A nation of many parts, in confusion. Our national soul symphony is still painful to hear. Please be our conductor.
“Our Father, Our King, hear our voice, have great mercy upon us.”email print