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Saturday, August 17, 2013
Is Elul All About Me?
During this period of introspection, this month of preparation for the closing of one year and the opening of the next, this soul searching, this inward focus can stir up a lot of feelings.
It sometimes makes me feel selfish, like instead of focusing so much on myself, I should turn my focus outward. Now that this Elul is nearly half over, I realize that if my focus is only inward or only outward, then I have missed the point of the entire "Elul exercise." Instead, the point is to be utterly aware of our own influence on our behavior and actions. We are ultimately in control of ourselves, there is nothing narcissistic about that notion, in fact, when we are aware of how our actions can affect others, we embody the opposite of narcissism, we show humility that we are a part of a society and a community that we value.
This inward focus business is daunting but it can be very freeing. There is holiness in the work we're doing. There is holiness in self-discovery. There is holiness in every person who recognizes their life as worthwhile and worthy of improvement. When we acknowledge that we strive to better - not perfect, but better - we acknowledge holiness as a part of who we are and as a part of our journey.
I'm reminded of my grandmother's notion that what happens inside a person is magical. Most of the time she was referring to the complexities of the human body and all of the mechanics that make us function. Occasionally though, she would turn to me and say about a friend, "Now there is someone who knows who they are, isn't that something?" What I think she meant was that people who are able to be in touch with their inner strength can harness its power and use it for good well beyond themselves.
What is your inner strength?
What is holy within you?
How well are you balancing the needs of self with the needs of others?