On the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, every fall, every year, the people make their peace with anyone they have wronged or slighted or injured or in any way neglected in the past twelve months. The task is not to patch things up, smooth things over, reach a compromise, or sweep mistakes and uneasy memories under the rug; the task is not to feel better. The task is ownership. The goal is truth, for its own redemptive sake. I did this. I said this to you, and it was wrong. I neglected this. I botched this. I betrayed you thusly.
I demeaned you, whether you ever knew it or not.
This is the truth in which both of us are living. I ask you to forgive me.
Imagine how many deep breaths you would need to take. Imagine how many doors you’d have to knock on, how many phone calls you’d have to make, how many letters, how many lunches and coffees, how many awkward moments with your children and your parents, and with strangers (that cashier to whom you spoke so sharply). Awkward is irrelevant. The task is not about comfort, it is about truth, about wholeness and holiness. Restoration.
Someone has been preparing all year to speak with you, to write to you, to ask you a hard question. Perhaps in some way not quite conscious, you have even known this, and you have been preparing too. Finally, you answer the door or the phone, or open the letter with shaky hands, and there it is, what you thought you’d been longing for but really have dreaded: someone is asking your forgiveness. The task is not about comfort, it is about truth. Awkward is irrelevant. You get to choose now, you have to choose, whether and how you will participate in restoration. Abandon the pleasant piety that claims knee-jerk forgiveness as the unquestioned moral course. You get to choose which way will be right in this case, between you as persons and with all your gods. What response will make the world more whole?
Imagine. Something yearns in us to come round right. Something creaky, rusty, heavy, almost calcified within us tries—in spite of us and of all our fears and self-deceptions—to turn and turn and creak and turn again and come round a little truer. Something in us stretches toward conversion.
Imagine healing, wholly, from within.