Perspective. In addition to my best intentions to improve and grow, beyond remembering my hopes and understanding my concerns, this year I add perspective to my personal prayer during the High Holy Days. I want to think about my place in a large and vast world. A world all too often filled with events that disturb me and attitudes that confound me.
New about my prayer this sacred season will be my attempt to see my life and my activities in context. To recognize that who I choose to be, what I choose to do, and how I choose to live matters much more than what I read in the newspaper and watch on television. How I apply myself to the situations I confront is much more significant than the apps on my phone or the games other people play.
At this time of year there’s really only one thing for which I pray. I pray for meaning. In my recitation and reflection, I want to know, I want to feel, and I want to believe that about my life and my existence there is meaning. This year, for me, that meaning is perspective. Striving to see myself and my loved ones, my society and my people, for who we truly are so that I can choose where to put my energies and efforts.
I pray to recognize the path I‘m on and to determine if I’m going where I want to, where I ought to, and to where my temperament and gifts are best suited. The world is so vast. The opportunities are so great. In my life, am I making the most out of the comparably few and crucial choices I get to make?
For me, perspective means living the life I require. Living the life toward which I aspire. There is little I can do about the condition of the larger world. There is much I can do about the condition of my life. There is little I can do about circumstances I can’t control. There is much I can control about the character of my response to whatever occurs.
I will pray to keep my life and my attitudes in perspective this year. Perhaps you will, too. If we each focus less on criticizing others and more on being honest with ourselves, if we each more generously forgive others like we forgive ourselves, life’s brevity will become intensity, the distance between us will draw closer, and each day’s troubles will be met by goodness for all of us to enjoy.
Life is too short to use my time wondering what other people may think. Life is too short not to use my time to focus on what I think. I seek to know myself both within the larger world in which I exist, and separate from it for my own soul’s sanity and contentment. As always for me, two statements in our people’s books of prayer speak to me honestly in my quest for perspective.
“What are we? What is our life? What is our piety? What is our righteousness? What is our attainment, our power, our might? What can we say, Eternal God and God of our ancestors? We are partners with God in covenant. How good is our portion! How pleasant our lot! How beautiful our heritage!”
“Allow our hearts to understand and discern; to hear, study, and teach; to observe, fulfill, and perform with love all the teachings of Torah.”
I’m also mindful of the poet’s declaration about God. “Your years never end. Your time has no measure.” Mine do. My years will end. Mine does. I must measure my time. That’s why in my prayer I reflect.
How can my life be worthy of the beauty and mystery in this grand and glorious world if who I am is of little consequence? I come into God’s presence with this sensitivity. Who I am and what I choose has to matter, even if it seems small in a larger, diverse, and sometimes difficult world. I always pray for meaning. This year I pray for perspective, too.