Our prayer through these High Holy Days is not just a journey, but a “Journey of Transformation."
Two stories about the idea of the Journey: Back in 2008, I was writing chapters of my book, Torah Journeys, and posting them on my website. I got a call from a publisher, who said he'd like to publish it and this is why: He said, "My daughters have been in orthodox day school all their lives. They're in High School now and they tell me frequently that they HATE Torah. So I tried out your Torah Journeys on them and they loved them. When I asked them why? they said, NO ONE EVER TOLD US THAT WE WERE ON A JOURNEY!
And another story: When I was considering taking this appointment as rabbi with Metivta for High Holy Days, I said, "I'll do this on one condition: That you understand that we are going on a journey together." The message that came back to me was, "This is what we've been waiting to hear."
I thought about another congregation that essentially fired me from my High Holy Day pulpit because they said "We want to read from the book; we paid a lot of money for these books. We want to hear the melodies we heard as children (never mind that they all heard different melodies). We want something familiar. " I was so dis-heartened after pouring my heart out and giving my all…. that I decided not to do this again (lead High Holy Days) unless I could find people who wanted to go on this journey of transformation.
To take a journey of transformation means that you admit that you don't know who you will be at the end of the journey.
It means showing up fully and (paradoxically) getting out of the way.
Recently I had a conversation with my friends and meditation teacher, Shoshana Cooper. She said that you could divide all spiritual practice as sourced in two intentions; Either self-improvement or transformation. While she admired the self-improvement camp, Shoshana found herself in the camp of transformation. As do I… although I might argue that when I truly surrender to the transformative power that is God, self-improvement (the deepening of kindness, courage, generosity, patience, etc.…) happens quite naturally as layers of artifice fall away and I encounter the core of my identity in God.
This journey is not linear. I feel it as a spiraling deeper, letting go of the surface, entering those depths so that I can emerge cleaner, clearer, truer…. awake to the miracle before me.
An important part of our journey together happens during Tashlich. After doing our practice together all evening and all morning of Rosh Hashana (softening our resistances, loosening our patterns, entering into expanded consciousness together through prayer, silence and Torah) we all will make a pilgrimage together to the beach. There we can open to a process of release and let the power of the ocean wash us clean. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be able to do Tashlich, the ceremony of releasing unhealthy patterns, (worries, fears and regrets) with the Pacific Ocean as our ally!
Our Tashlich process will consist of practices that will help us to surrender, get in touch with our yearning to know the essence, open us to the Source of flow and finally celebrate our essential purity.
I am honored to be with you on this awesome journey,
Metivta's Tashlich takes place 3:30PM, September 25 at Temescal Canyon Beach where Temescal Canyon Road Meets the Pacific Coast Highway. There is free parking on Temescal Canyon or $9 to park at the beach parking lot. We hope to see you for this cleansing and inspiring experience.