Yom Kipper - Mid fast - I find great comfort in wearing white with no vanity,just pulling my Yom Kipper dress over my head like the shroud it represents, sticking my feet in cloth shoes and going forth to service with none of the usual concerns about matching jewelry or getting tasks done in the right order. I love the minor key chanting, the prayers of repentance, the call to turn, turn, turn, toward goodness and love.
But I struggle with amends and especially with real and lasting change. Often, I don't even know what to change to do more good and less harm. The children's story read at services today taught, through the misadventures of a very large and clumsy if well intentioned bird, that the hardest word in the world is "sorry". That isn't true for me. It's easy to be sorry and say "sorry". What is hard, hard, hard is to understand before I do something wrong that it is wrong. So often I try to say something kind, and it hurts, or I want to be helpful and it distracts or interferes. My empathy fails me day in and day out. Even when my ego is out of the way and my intentions are focused and in tune with my values, I do harm.
When Kerry and I planned to have children, and were blessed with bright, beautiful little girls, it was vitally important to both of us - the most important thing in our worlds, to give them love, opportunities, limits, values, dream seeds - skills, hope, courage, everything they needed to thrive and to contribute. Like most parents, we wanted them to have more opportunities than we had, to have less pain, less trouble, and to live richer lives. I think we got some of those things right, but I know now I acted at times with distraction, indifference, control, selfishness, ego, insensitivity with both of my daughters. Even now that they are lovely strong women, I speak wrong words, fail to communicate the depth of my love, don't know what they need or how to provide it.
And then there's Bob - how I love that good man and yet, several times every week I jump and shriek when he has help to offer me, or I try to ask for something I want or need (and I know the rules, teach people at work how to make requests and complaints kindly) and I fall into language that sounds critical to him and hurts him.
It isn't saying "sorry", admitting wrong that is hard - It's knowing what is better to do, not just the rules but really how to do it, and then doing it right again and again and again that is hard. That is my prayer this Yom Kipper afternoon -
Source of life and wisdom, strengthen my empathy. Help me match my words and voice with my intentions. Slow my reactions. Strengthen my empathy.