, ,

Life, death, existence, and awareness are mysteries that we contemplate when given an opportunity, but more often choose to ignore. They are ideas that are too big for everyday use.

They are like clothing – we put them on for special occasions, but our daily wardrobe consists more of shopping lists and thank you cards, phone calls and errands. Maybe art, and often beauty, because the moment we open our eyes we are struck by beauty.

In truth, beauty surrounds us although sometimes it is hard to see. But there is so much beauty.

Not just outdoors, although we tend to think that’s the place to look for it, to look for inspiration, for soul, for God. No, there are other things that are equally beautiful. Your own body. Your remarkable hands that have achieved so much, that have so much left to achieve.

The eyes of someone you love, the shape and color of which you know so well, the emotions they convey like a book you love so much that you have read and reread it.

We are essentially creative creatures. We make children, art, music, stories and fables. We live our lives and turn them into plays that we perform for ourselves and our friends, pictures of our past, sharp and clear in our memory yet so hard to convey to another without blurring the details.

Our words lack the precision of a photograph, and even it fails to convey the story behind the picture. In the end, we are each on our own, a singularity in a multi-valenced world, striving to be a part of something larger than ourselves even though we know that ultimately we each are alone.

What is possible is shared experience. The experience of standing shoulder to shoulder with a community, some of whom you know, some who are strangers, but all are in the same place. You go to a concert with a thousand, two thousand people, and you each experience the music and the drama of the artistry.

You walk out into the evening air transfixed among a crowd of others, all mesmerized, all basking in the beauty and joy of the past hours. You walk to your car and abruptly you are separated, each taking away their own piece of something magnificent, transcendent.

But on Kol Nidre, we are together. Shoulder to shoulder, ready to hear the haunting melody and words of the Kol Nidre prayer. The two Torah scrolls, along with the prayer itself, form a beit din, the 3-member court before whom we plead our case.

We stand before God, among our community and loved ones, seeking God’s forgiveness, releasing ourselves from vows that bound us to the past.