Elul 19 5776
Ten years ago, when you moved out of NYC, you gave me a beautiful carpet, for safekeeping and use. One day, you said, you may be back to get it. Well, now you can’t. I’m really sorry. Yesterday, as part of my anti-moth campaign, I finally moved around all the furniture and discovered that the corner of the carpet, tucked away, was eaten up by critters. Off to the trash, all rolled up, it went.
It’s just a carpet and I know you don’t really care for it that much and have moved on to new homes, cares and possessions but I feel badly that my own neglect of what has been given me to enjoy and guard has not been well taken of and ends up as polluted waste.
Maybe I make too much meaning of the daily grind. But this clean up process which I’ve been reflecting on as part of this annual prepent journey to a better me (thank you friends for good advice on this, including checking out the carpets), compels me to find symbolism in the way we are invited at this time of year to lift no stone unturned as we take on this self work of returning to better.
What gifts have I received and not appreciated or taken good care of? What teachings, ideas, values, suggestions, truths, requests have I ignored this past year, avoided or neglected? What needs of others have I looked away from in the interest of my own selfish, if worthy needs? And what inner cleaning must I take on and how to better keep up a more disciplined life balance in the year ahead so to avoid these wasteful and expensive cleanup crises?
Today is the 19th day on this love letter journey, and the last one that I’ve designated for focus on what I am sorry for. I write to you today as a friend whose trust in some way I’ve betrayed and as a representative of Mother Earth herself, whose gifts of abundance I am grateful for and must be a better keeper of. I know you’d get a kick of representing Mother.
Today is also The Annual Character Day inviting us to examine where we ace and we fail and we can, with simple steps, be and do better. The one area in the list of traits compiled that compels me most to examine this year is Temperance. It’s usually used in the context of substance use also more generally as the “moderation in action, thought, or feeling.”
I strive for better balance between body and soul, daily needs and lofty aspirations, the right here and right now carpets I step on, and the bigger tapestry of life I and you get to be a woven part of. Both, balanced, as best as we can. I owe you a carpet… and a big hug.
PREPENT: Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie’s annual journey to the new year, with 40 ways in 40 days to reflect, refocus, recharge and restart life. This year features daily love letters inspired by Lab/Shul’s theme for the High Holy Days, “וְאָהַבְתָּ re:love.”
This story "Prepent Day 19: Not Just an Old Carpet" was written by Amichai Lau-Lavie.