The High Holy Days and the Days of Awe revolve around the theme of t’shuva, a Hebrew word that means “turning” or “to turn.” I often think of it as “returning” as well.
Today, we think about t’shuvah. Anyone can contemplate this subject. What you are turning towards at this time? From what are you turning away? For Jews, at this time of year, we (hopefully) turn away from our misdeeds or the targets (sins) we have missed during the last year. We turn towards better behavior, more righteous deeds, new targets we hope to hit in the new year.
We also can see this as a turning back to God or to a more spiritual path. By living by the laws of God, performing mitzvot (commandments/good deeds), treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves, acknowledging each person as a soul in a body not just as a body, seeing God everywhere, and placing God before us always (Shiviti Adonai l’negdi tamid), we practice t’shuvah. By taking on a spiritual practice, or renewing our spiritual practice, we do t’shuvah. This includes meditating, praying, hitbodedut (walking and talking to God), chanting or singing devotional songs, or doing anything else that draws you closer to God or helps you feel a connection with Source or “something greater” than yourself.
I also perceive t’shuvah as a return to my best self. So, at this time of year I ask myself, “Who am I really? How do I put myself out into the world (or not)? Is the manner in which I put myself out into the world representative of who I am? Does it allow people to really see me – the real me?”
This t’shuvah revolves around authenticity, or returning to your true self, your best self. Maybe your actions towards others this year really didn’t allow your compassion to show. Maybe the amount of time you spent on expressing your soul’s purpose was so small that no one close to you could even see that purpose or passion shine through. Maybe you kept your love locked in your heart. Maybe you were dishonest. Maybe you hid your smile behind a frown. None of these actions or behaviors express your best self. None of them are who you really are at your essence.
Who are you really? What are you here to accomplish? How would your soul like to express itself? Have you expressed your true self at all this year? How will you do a better job it it next year? How will you express yourself this year?
Now is the time to return to or turn towards who you really are and who you are meant to be.