We celebrate New Year in different times–in the middle of winter if you live on the Northern Hemisphere, in the middle of summer if you live in the Southern Hemisphere. And if you are Jewish and live in the Northern Hemisphere, you celebrate the changing of the year as summer fades into Fall.
I’ve always loved Fall. When I lived where broad-leaved trees grew, they changed color and the bright display really
lit up the countryside. Now that I live in the desert, I’m grateful that the nights don’t hold the heat and the day is cooler. And shorter. A benefit for us, as well.
New Year is a time of reflection, a time to consider how we are spending our lives. There are layers of consideration for me. Grateful, that the circle of the year has brought me to this time again, healthy and happy. Curious, wondering what the next year will bring and what I can bring to it. Reflective, wondering if the way I’m spending my days is both satisfying and useful to other people.
My favorite meditation topic in the 10 days that make up the High Holy Days is the idea of tikkun olam. The words mean, literally, “repair the world,” but the meaning is much deeper. In mystical terms, God left the world imperfect so that humans could experience the sense of creation by healing the world, helping to perfect it. It’s a big order, but a beautiful idea that give our lives creative impulse.
Menachim Schneerson, the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, wrote, “If you see what need to be repaired and how to repair it, then you have found a piece of the world God has left for you to complete. But if you see only what is wrong and what is ugly in the world, then it is you, yourself, that needs repair.”
It’s not just 10 days to find something or someone that needs help; it’s the main reason I am becoming a poetic medicine practitioner. Tikkun olam.
May this New Year bring you joy and discovery, no matter where you are or what you believe.
—Quinn McDonald is working on healing tiny pieces of the world.