To those who know me this is not news but it does cause a particular kind of insanity that leads me to do things like sit through a 10+ hour showing of all three of the Lord of the Rings movies.
Yes, you read that right – 10 hours. As in, it is daylight when you go in and dark when, with tears in your eyes, you stumble out of the theater with an ache in your back, and a numb…everything.
I have done this not once, but twice.
And I’d do it again in a heartbeat. And yes, people think it’s nuts and ask me why I do it.
They might as well ask me why I partake in the Jewish High Holidays. After all, there are plenty of similarities.
Both are time consuming and many’s the Kol Nidre service I’ve come out of services to a moon approaching full with tears in my eyes and numb…everything.
But the two events – the marathon and the High Holidays – have something much deeper in common, something I recognized the last time I went to the all-day showing.
The Lord of the Rings movies don’t change; they are the exact same movies each and every time I see them.
What changes year to year is me. What changes is where I am and how I experience them. Upon the backdrop of their constancy I can pause and take stock of how different I am from the last time I sat there.
This trio of movies that pierced my heart and touched me so deeply allows me to see the changes I have gone through since this journey first began precisely because they never change.
As a very wise woman I met at the showing observed, “We’ve all seen the movies before. We’ve all been on the journey. What we don’t know is where it will take us inside.”
It’s no different with the High Holidays.
We’ve all been on the journey. We know all the prayers and the songs sung only on those special nights. We follow the practices year after year – honey and apples on Rosh Hashanah, the fast on Yom Kippur.
They stay the same; it is us that changes year to year.
The High Holidays give us an opportunity to pause and sit with those changes. They allow us a blessed opportunity to compare where we are now – physically, mentally, emotionally – to where we were a year ago, ten years ago.
Against the backdrop of their constancy we can see our own changes, the new scars, the successes, failures and growth we’ve seen through the years.
Of course, the High Holidays are missing Hobbits. And wizards. High Holidays are also missing the applicable lessons of a dwarf and an elf being friends despite a history of differences between their people, (I'm looking at you Iran and Israel!) But hey, nothing’s perfect.
When I want hobbits and wizards and dwarves and elves I have The Lord of the Rings.
And each year, blessedly, I have Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
May you be inscribed in the Book of Life!
And may this change of season allow you the opportunity to see where you've come from, and just how far you've come.