Thursday, October 11, 2012

Heeding my own sermonic advice

On Rosh Hashanah morning I presented a very lengthy sermon where I encouraged my congregants to take a leap and try something new.  Using my first experience jumping off a 10 meter diving platform as the metaphor, I offered the idea that during this new year, each one of us should take a leap of faith, incur some risk, and make a change of some sort.  Though I have many things in mind for myself to try or reinsert into my life this year, I thought that starting this blog might be one of these "new ventures" that I pursue.

Back in high school and throughout my years of college and for a few years into my early twenties, I was a prolific journal writer.  I believe that I still have the volumes that I wrote in a box either somewhere in my basement or in the garage.  Over the years that I practiced the art of journaling, I found it very cathartic to give myself the opportunity to record and reflect upon my experiences.  For a long while I kept a daily account of my comings and goings.  After a while, I believe I became less concerned with the minutia, and I learned to focus on the more important and/or significant events in my life. 

Let's face it, trying to keep up with every detail of our lives and record them all is overwhelmingly time consuming.  As a husband, the father of three young children, and the rabbi of a congregation, I find that I have very little time to myself.  During the time that I do have, I tend to watch a little television, play a quick game on my phone, read the newspaper, a magazine, or even occasionally a book.  Or I find myself bogged down with domestic duties like paying bills, running errands, and the other mundane activities that most adults must entertain.

But I am determined to make this work.  I have a need to do this for me - to record and recount and reflect; and I believe I have a need to challenge myself to write more often, to reflect up what I do and say, and possibly extract some of these ideas and form them into sermonettes, stories, and other tools that I can use "on the job."

My sermons over this year's High Holy Days were highly personal.  Three of them reflected directly upon stories from my personal life.  Surprisingly, (or perhaps not as surprisingly as I initially thought,) most people seemed to really appreciate being brought into my life, as it enabled them to connect with me on yet another level.

Isn't that what life is all about?  Connections are so important.  For many years I was very guarded with certain details of my life.  And to an extent I still am.  But I've come to realize that the more I share, the more some people are able to connect, attain a greater level of comfort with me (their rabbi), and form that deeper relationship that I always desire. 

Of course there are those that still want to see their rabbi as "other," literally and figuratively up there on the bimah, just out of reach, not quite as fallible as the rest... a tough image to live up to for anyone, and often disappointing when the congregant eventually learns the truth that their rabbi...all rabbis are human beings with flaws, feelings, and the same challenges that everyone else faces.

So I am starting this blog to share with those who are interested.  I don't know how often or what I will write, but my intentions are good and clear.

May this continue to be a year where push/challenge myself to step out of my realm of comfort, take risks, and work to make myself and those that I serve better.

Keyn yehi ratzon!