October 28, 2016
Earlier this month, we were blessed by Rabbi Mark Panoff, one of our Spiritual Friday leaders, as he led our group and shared a deeply meaningful and inspirational message about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We learned that this was a time of repentance and forgiveness, and that a critical part of Rosh Hashanah is the making of amends for our errors, faults, and the hurts we have caused.
We learned about these beautiful religious holidays and the many spiritual practices we have in common – taking an inventory, admitting our wrongs, seeking forgiveness, making amends, and sincerely working at becoming a better person.
We began with some readings and sacred prayers for both our Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services.
Failures of Love
We sin against You when we hurt one another.
For our failures of love, Adonai, we seek forgiveness.
For exploiting another for own pleasure,
and for the wounds we cause through betrayal and deception.
For withholding affection from those we claim to love,
and for using love to control our spouses, children, and parents.
For abandoning our friends and siblings whose love has sustained us,
and for neglecting those who love us when they need us most.
For harboring in our relationships mistrust, boredom, and disloyalty,
and for rejecting our partner's efforts at repair and renewal.
For possessiveness, jealousy, and avarice,
and for lashing out in anger at those who are closest to us.
- Sheldon Marder
Rabbi Israel Salanter once spent the night at a shoemaker’s home. Late at night he saw the man working by the light of a flickering candle. “Look how late it is,” the rabbi said. “Your candle is about to go out. Why are you still working?” The shoemaker replied, “As long as the candle is burning, it is still possible to mend.”
For weeks afterward, Rabbi Salanter was hard repeating the shoemaker’s words to himself: "As long as the candle is burning, it is still possible to mend.”
As long as the candle burns – as long as the spark of life still shines – we can mend and heal, seek forgiveness and reconciliation, begin again.
This was a beautiful message of hope for those struggling with addiction.
"The antidote for regret is to move our awareness into the present moment. Consider what you can do now that makes a difference." - Ellen Grace O'Brian
I played a very comforting piece of music, "A Hundred Thousand Angels", before leading the patients in a brief guided meditation. The lyrics gently remind us that whatever we experience, wherever life takes us, whatever we must face, we are never alone.
After meditation, the patients were given a piece of paper to write down their "wrongs" from the past year – things they regretted and things they needed to ask forgiveness for. When they completed their lists, they placed them in our crystal bowl. The bowl was then played as a “blessing". Afterwards, the lists were given to my prayer ministry at Unity of Delray Beach where they have been prayed over for the past several weeks.
The Rabbi also shared this prayer with us:
In small groups, we asked the patients the following questions:
- What awareness did you come to today?
- Would anyone like to share what they released?
- Can sincere regret be helpful in your recovery?
- Why is self-forgiveness not selfish?
- Were there any things you just didn't want to release?
When I realize the ways in I have brought pain to others
through my selfishness, my pride, my greed, and my self-protection,
my heart is broken in sadness.
I turn around.
I seek, with your guidance,
to make amends to those I have hurt.
I know, G-d, that the kind of change I need to make
can only come by your healing power in me.
So, I give myself again today to you.
Give me the courage, humility, and honesty I need
to make amends to those I have harmed, including me.
We all felt so blessed by Rabbi Mark and so grateful to have him on our Spiritual Friday team.
Reverend Laurie Durgan