A Yom Kippur Repentance

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I spent all Tuesday mornng trying to find the right prayer to share here today when finally this came up, and it was perfect. It spoke to me in a way that the temple prayer didn’t, and so I’m sharing it with you here, and I will be reciting this sometime this morning along with my other prayer time.

I hope it gives you comfort as well, and for those observing, an easy fast.


Ashamnu: My Alphabet of Failings

For the sin of anger against those who challenge me
And for the sin of belittling those I don’t understand
For the sin of criticizing without caring
And for the sin of doubting the strength of love
For the sin of enjoying what I shouldn’t have
And for the sin of purposefully finding fault
For the sin of greed when I have so much
And for the sin of harboring resentment
For the sin of needlessly imagining problems
And for the sin of joking to avoid a truth

For all these sins, oh God of forgiveness,
Forgive me, pardon me, grant me atonement.


For the sin of kindness too often withheld
And for the sin of loving in measured touches
For the sin of malice toward those who are richer
And for the sin of nourishing my worst intentions
For the sin of observing when I could be helping
And for the sin of pretending I am less than I am
For the sin of quitting when I still have fight
And for the sin of not resting when I am exhausted
For the sin of saying it doesn’t matter
And for the sin of thinking they can read my mind.

For all these sins, oh God of forgiveness,
Forgive me, pardon me, grant me atonement.


For the sin of not cutting the umbilical cord
And for the sin of not visiting my parents enough
For the sin of not weeping, to prove my strength
And for the sin of never forgiving my ex
For the sin of yearning to alter time
And for the sin of repenting at the zero hour.

For all these sins, oh God of forgiveness,
Forgive me, pardon me, grant me atonement.

Written and shared on the blog of Reform Judaism dot org by:

Jan Sokoloff Harness is an active volunteer at Congregation Beth Torah in Overland Park, KS. She is an award-winning writer, the Chief Creative Instigator for Sokoloff Harness Communications LLC and the author of the ebook Creative Chai.

Mental Health Monday – What Are Your Go-To’s?

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If you search through my tags or have read me for some time, you may notice that my mental health go-to’s will sometimes change. That. Is. Normal. What helps you, what soothes you, what centers you will change over time. And if there is no change…well, that’s normal too. Not any one thing will work for every one person. That is why it is so important for us to talk, to eliminate the mental health stigma, and to share what works for each of us so that the rest can pick what might work for them and give it a try.

My top five go-to’s:

  1. Writing. I am currently in a memoir workshop but it will come to an end. My plan for the next two weeks is setting up a writing schedule and a list of topics so I always have something to go to with pen and paper or keyboard and kindle.
  2. Supernatural. As I’ve mentioned this is the last season for the long-running series, and it is my heart. It is comfort for me.
  3. Prayer. I’ve been studying labyrinths and having that focus is a positive thing for my mental health. I read a daily Thomas Merton devotional that starts my day. I’m searching for prayers, I’m writing prayers, and I’m praying in new ways. For me that means the labyrinth, the rosary, and upcoming retreats.
  4. Podcasts. Two in particular. Stay Tuned with Preet BhararaLovett or Leave It. I have several other podcasts (Pod Save AmericaPod Save the WorldAnn Kroeker – Writing Coach), but they aren’t mental health go-to’s for me.
  5. Reading. I have my public library on my kindle, and I am constantly borrowing e-books from my library. I have three on my kindle at the moment of all variety of genre.

    Please comment with your go-to’s and I’ll put together a future post with your responses.

    Crisis Intervention Resources Page has been Updated.

    Have a good week!

    Preview: Labyrinths

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    At one of the church groups I attend, we rotate among members’ churches. The most recent one was this past June, and I was delightfully surprised to see a labyrinth in their courtyard. I didn’t walk among it; I simply admired it from afar and took a few photos.

    While planning my family’s vacation to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, I tried to find a shrine or a religious destination that I could take some time for myself to meditate and pray. I really enjoyed the spiritual time that I had in Ireland, and I would like to…not replicate it, but have that become a tradition on my travels. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything that spoke to me. I did however, find a public labyrinth in a park as well as about half a dozen more in the surrounding area of Toronto.

    I began to think about how I wanted to approach it, and before I knew it, I was doing research into labyrinths as part of religion, as part of spirituality, as part of history, and discovered to my wonder that we have several within easy driving distance.

    I’ve been taking notes and taking pictures, and it may turn into some kind of a book in the future. In the meantime, this is the first labyrinth that caught my eye, and I’m sure that I’ll share more in the coming weeks.

    Enjoy the last week of official summer.

    St. Elen, Pray for Us

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    Today is the feast day of my own saint, Saint Elen. There is little known about her, but I still find what is available about her fasinating. It’s taken me more than a few years to complete this project, and hopefully next week, I will have actual cards made for anyone who wishes one, but for now, I’d like to share with you the prayer card I made for my patron: St. Elen.

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    Pope Francis’ Prayer for Countering ‘Fake News’

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    This prayer is part of a message Pope Francis offered for World Communications Day in January of 2018. At the very least, it gives us something to think about when we’re offering our views with one another. Separating fact from fiction is essential is today’s media, and we must never forget that while a variety of opinions are valid, facts and truth are non-negotiable.

    I would recommend following the link above and reading the Pope’s entire message.

    Lord, make us intruments of your peace.

    Help us to recognize the evil latent in a communication that does not build communion.

    Help us to remove the venom from our judgements.

    Help us to speak about others as our brothers and sisters.

    You are faithful and trustworthy; may our words be seeds of goodness for the world:

    Where there is shouting, let us practice listening;

    Where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony;

    Where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity;

    Where there is exclusion, let us offer solidarity;

    Where there is sensationalism, let us use sobriety;

    Where there is superficiality, let us raise real questions;

    Where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust;

    Where there is hostility, let us bring respect;

    Where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.

    Amen.

    Ways to Pray with Prayer Cards

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    I’ve mentioned my friend, Brother Mickey McGrath often. After one of his retreats I come away with a renewed sense of peace in myself and my faith as well as a renewed energy to expand my creativity. You often see that depicted on these pages with my photography and artistic attempts, some of which are quite good, and others….well, I tried.

    One of his new products is a card set called Prayer Starters. Below the cut, you will be able to click on the picture to be taken to his website to purchase them if you are interested in that. Simply, they are a set of about thirty cards with an easel under the theme of Wise and Holy Women featuring the words of the four women Doctors of the Church, Sts. Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Theresa of Avila, and Therese Lisieux plus Dorothy Day and Sister Thea Bowman combined with Brother Mickey’s beautiful art.

    I’ve been using them as a daily devotional although I haven’t swapped out the cards every morning. Sometimes I leave them up for a few days and let them speak to me as long as I can feel it. This usually lasts two days. 

    I mention this because two cards ago I came across a quotation from St. Hildegard of Bingen:

    “Only when we connect misery to our cravings can we begin to solve our dilemma.”

    I did not understand its meaning. I read it again, and then went about my work. Whenever I passed by my dining room table, I read it again, paused a moment, thought to myself, again, that I do not understand this; what does this mean?

    Some of you may read it the first time and think, of course, this is not hard, what is she not seeing?

    Honestly, I didn’t know.

    I began to read it a bit more slowly. I’d sit with it and read it out normally, then a bit slower, and then I’d emphasize the punctuation, adding in my own commas, like you would with a poem, each line paused for absorption. I think I did this for two full days. I still did not get it.

    Simple words, but they simply weren’t reaching me.

    I don’t know how many days passed, each day I’d read the card at least once, more likely twice. I stared at the card on the easel. I held the card between two fingertips. I read it over and over and over again.

    One morning, probably about very nearly a week ago, I read it, each word on my tongue, my inserted comma giving pause, and as I reached the period at the end, my eyes opened wide.

    It was there!

    Right there the whole time.

    And now that I’d seen it, I couldn’t unseen it; I couldn’t not understand the meaning, and the most significant part was how much it related to my life, to my cravings of things and thoughts and symbols and signs. Little things and big things, and there in all of it wasn’t misery but the idea that misery could be brought on with too much of the cravings or the opposite that if I think of the cravings as misery perhaps I’d crave less and therefore be satisfied with less. And maybe that’s not it at all, but that was what it was for me.

    Because that’s what has happened in my life. I can feel it and I’m living it in some ways. I am not a pious, ascetic, silence seeker, but I also do not crave everything the way I once did. Not only do I prioritize secular, monetary and time things, but I am also prioritizing my faith in relation to my secular life as well as the items of faith that I want to follow and adopt into my lifestyle. That’s not to suggest a change in doctrine, but in a feeling of where I want my faith to bring me, and for me to bring to others.

    Only when we connect misery to our cravings can we begin to solve our dilemma.

    Card from Prayer Starters Wise and Holy Women Card Pack, Brother Mickey McGrath, All Rights Reserved. Photo mine. (c)2019

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    The Forty Day Journey Begins. Ash Wednesday.

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    ​Giving up something is hard to choose, and giving up something for Lent can be a daunting task. Sometimes what I choose feels arbitrary and superficial. Some are good ideas, but not meaningful enough. Will giving it up bring me closer to G-d? Or just make me miserable for forty days? My feeling on giving something up is that it should be sacrificial – you should definitely notice that it’s absent. I won’t be giving up brussel sprouts or beets. I don’t eat them anyway. That would lack sincerity and significance. However, it should also not be something that is impossible to give up like driving or any number of things that you find indispensible.

    I asked for help from my friends on Facebook, and I received some very good suggestions. In spite of their excellent responses, some of those very valid suggestions don’t (or won’t) work for me:

    • TV? Then I’d miss family time. We watch most things all together and enjoy that time. I’d be abandoning them for forty days.
    • Cable news? I don’t watch it 24/7 anymore, but I do need to keep informed, especially in this era of misinformation.
    • Internet? Besides keeping in touch with my family, it is essentially my livelihood.
    • Chocolate? Soda? Bread? Been there, done that. I’m not sure it holds the same meaning as the first time; at least not yet.
    • Caffeine? And go through withdrawal? Too physically taxing.
    • Ice cream? Maybe. My doctor would certainly like that.
    • Bacon? Hmm. Possible. Very possible.

    I do always add a spiritual component to my forty days in the desert:

    • Prayer time.
    • Reflection.
    • Rosary.
    • Reading.

    I already read two devotional books throughout the year on a daily basis: Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2019 by The Irish Jesuits and A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His journals. I’ll be adding two more: My parish gives out a small book, Not by Bread Alone 2019: Daily Reflections for Lent by Mary DeTurris Poust. This takes about five minutes to read each day and provides a reflection and a suggested meditation to reflect on. We’ve used this book for a number of years and it really is a good way to meet G-d everyday. The second book is Lenten Gospel Reflections by Bishop Robert Barron, which was given to my by the person who will be sponsoring me on my Cursillo journey (more on that in a later post). This one looks to be short readings also and it has space for notes or journaling.

    Daily Lenten Reading, 2019. (c)2019


    i’ve also decided to set aside $1 every time my family eats out or buys a non-grocery food item like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, etc and on Easter money donate all those dollars to my parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society.
    I’m currently getting ready to attend Ash Wednesday Mass followed by a parish soup lunch. It is a really lovely way to begin Lent with other like-minded people, all on different paths but the same journey. It reinforces the community of the church.

     In addition to my own commitments during Lent, Lent has three pillars of prayer, fasting (and abstinence), and almsgiving. Fasting and abstinence sound similar, but are very different in practice, and for me, Catholic fasting is much different than my decades of Yom Kippur fasting (which I still observe). Fasting during Lent is only required of those 18 through 59, and may include one regular meal as well as two smaller meals. Fast days in Lent are today, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Additionally, Fridays in Lent require abstinence from meat as well as other enjoyable sources, freeing us to grow closer to G-d.

    My church also included a forty day calendar offering suggestions on ways to make Lent moe meaningful. It is provided from Take Five for Faith and I sill share it with you this weekend.

    I will keep you updated on my progress and I hope you will comment with your own reflections and suggestions this Lenten season.