Cooking for three days in anticipation for dinner on the eve of Rosh Hashona (the Jewish New Year) has rekindled my belief that if you do what you love, with love, from an open heart, you can rest assured that what you create will be good, even if it does not always appear that way.
It is these words in Genesis, “And it was Good” that inspired me to write today.
During those three days, I attempted to bake a coffee /honey cake. After all, we are celebrating the World’s Birthday. Guaranteed to be delicious, I did everything in the recipe and placed the mixture in the bundt pan and waited. Nothing much happened for a while and then my oven became a container for Mt. Vesuvius. Bubbles rose and filled the hole in the bundt tin, batter poured over the sides and began to ooze out and fill the aluminum container I manages to slide onto the floor of the oven. I just stood and watched in shocked fascination. Eventually, I removed the disaster from the oven and tried to rescue a corner here and there that was not burnt or still runny. I looked up the reviews on this recipe and many people said the same thing happened to them.
Disclaimer: This is NOT a request for a recipe.
It is a metaphor. Even when we put forward our best efforts, bad things will sometimes happen. They have to. We don’t live in a fairy tale and real life is not about happy endings. Real life is not about devervability. Just because we are good and kind and reasonable, it doesn’t ensure we will receive the same behaviour from others. Just because we drive our car with care, doesn’t mean we will never be in an accident. Just because we were good parents, doesn’t mean our children will forgive and forget our mistakes. Just because we are generous to others, doesn’t mean others will be generous to us.
It doesn’t work that way.
If we do unto others what we would have them do unto us, it doesn’t mean they will.
At this time in the Jewish calendar we are given ten days to look at ourselves with clarity and compassion. We are asked to focus on who we have been over the past year and we are given the opportunity to forgive ourselves for the times we reacted rather than responded. For the times we treated our self or another harshly, rudely, thoughtlessly or angrily. For the times we forgot to offer help to another, neglected our true beliefs and wasted time complaining rather than taking action. For the times we chose not to understand why a friend would behave in a certain way, or a family member remembers something you wish they had just forgotten.
At this time we are also invited to forgive every person who we believe has done us wrong. Why would we do that? Nothing happens to us that, on some level, we have not the capacity to understand and forgive. Actually nothing happens to us. We are the creators of our own lives, whether we are consciously aware of that or not. If life just happened to us, then we would all be victims. And surely we are not. Indeed we are the creators of our lives because we can choose how to attend to everything that happens.
As author and teacher Wayne Dyer said, “With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself, or treat what has happened as a gift. Either everything is an opportunity to help you grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.”
Self-pity can mask itself as entitlement.
It starts with a ‘should or should not, a must , a have to, or an ought.
She should not have written such a thing.
They should apologise first.
He has to make the first move… because I always do.
They ought to help out because… blah blah bah
All these shoulds and have tos etc, camouflage the underlying issue.
“Poor me. I don’t deserve this.”
Self-pity can also mask itself is righteous anger.
When we step into this way of being, when some of us would prefer to lose family, friends and relationships rather than be wrong, when some people would prefer to die than be wrong, we become blind to the truth.
In the words of Helen Keller, “Self pity is our worst enemy, and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.”
My failed honey cake was a gift. It took nothing away from the joy of the evening with family and friends. It was a tiny hiccup that melted and disappeared in the face of what was important. Love. Connection. Joy. Thankfulness.
One the tenth day we arrive at The Day of Atonement and as important as it is to atone for the hurts and injustices we may have perpetrated, it is, in my humble opinion, far more holy and rewarding to reach a State of At- One- Ment with All That Is. As we look into ourselves and recognise that the parts of ourselves that hurt others usually come from the parts of ourselves that remain unhealed, we are ready to ask ourselves this question.
Whether you are from the Jewish faith, or another faith or no faith at all, ask yourself am I holding myself back from trying to understand the significance of what happened or stuck in blame in order to remain right, or am I willing to embrace this opportunity, step out on the limb of humility and grace and accept compassionate responsibility for my own actions, my own words and my own life?