There's an exercise I like to do during meditation on Friday mornings. I invite us to look back on the week now ending, starting with the first day of the week -- on the Jewish calendar, Sunday. What was Sunday like? What happened on that day? What was bitter, what was sweet? What do you want to lift up and be grateful for, and what do you want to release and let go?
And then we repeat the process with Monday -- Tuesday -- Wednesday -- all the way up to the present day, the cusp of Shabbat.
I like that meditative exercise because it gives me an opportunity, before Shabbat begins, to reflect on the week which is about to end. To mindfully move through what I can remember of that week; to express gratitude for the places where I lived up to my own expectations; to notice the places where I missed the mark, and set the intention of doing better next week. That's one of the wonderful things about cyclical time: this particular week will never come back again, but there will always be another.
It's more difficult to do this practice with a whole year. I can't remember every day of 5773, even if I tried. But I can do this practice writ large, on a macrocosmic scale. What are the themes of the year now ending? Where are the big-picture places where I lived up to my hopes for myself, and where are the big-picture places where I missed the mark?
What do I remember when I think back on the year which will soon be ending? The high holidays from last year -- the sweetness of reaching the end of Yom Kippur -- my son delighting in our sukkah. Travel to Texas to see my family, to Colorado and later to New Hampshire to see my ALEPH community, to Rhode Island this summer with our son. The winter's worth of snows and cosy wood fires and savory stews with friends. Purim, Pesach, the Omer. The mud and forsythias and daffodils of spring. Our son turning three, and growing to approach four. This summer's sights and sounds and scents and connections. Countless tiny experiences of compassion and kindness (both given and received)...balanced by countless times when I was impatient, or thin-skinned, or not as kind as I intended to be.
My task now: to lift up the things I want to sanctify and remember -- and to let go of the places where I fell short of my own expectations. To recognize the gifts in the sweet places -- and the gifts in the bitter places, too. To remember 5773, with willingness to let it slide into the past as I prepare for 5774.
When you look back on the year which will end with the next new moon, what do you remember?