I pray that your Christmas and New Year’s celebrations were happy and meaningful, even though it was necessary, again this year, to keep the festivities quieter and more intimate.
Recently I have been reading a wonderful book by Rabbi Rachel Cowan and Dr. Linda Thal, Wise Aging. Living with Joy, Resilience, & Spirit. While the authors draw mostly from their background in Jewish wisdom, they also reflect on Christian and Buddhist traditions, making their book ideal reading for Boomers and older adults of many different backgrounds.
One ritual they recommend is one that I have decided to make my New Year’s practice this year. It’s based on the Jewish bedtime Sh’ma or prayer, which invites us to examine our conscience at the end of the day and reflect on our frustrations, or the hurts that we have experienced (or inflicted) and how these have impacted our relationships. By fully forgiving those who have hurt us, either intentionally or unintentionally, and by acknowledging our own failings and weaknesses, we are ready for our evening rest and able to look forward to a new day and a new beginning.
Why not give it a try before you close your eyes tonight?
I now forgive
all who have hurt me,
all who have done me wrong;
whether deliberately or by accident,
whether by word or by deed, or by thought. whether against my pride, my person, or my property
in this incarnation or in any other. May no one,
be punished on my account.
May it be Your will, Eternal One, My God and the God of my parents, that I be no more bound by the wrongs which I have committed, that I be free from patterns which cause pain to me and to others, That I no longer do that which is evil in Your sight. May past failings be wiped away in Your great compassion, Eternal One, And may they no longer manifest through pain and suffering.
Let my words, my thoughts, my meditations, and my acts flow from the fullness of Your Being, Eternal One, Source of my being and my Redeemer. AMEN.