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sacred pilgrimage

In the Fall, there is a 10 day period the Jewish community refers to as the High Holy Days. Rosh Hashanah on one side and Yom Kippur on the other, bookend this time for reflection, repentance and renewal.

We are members of the oldest congregation in Los Angeles, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, which was founded in 1853. It is housed in a building built by the congregation in 1929 that is now a National Historic Landmark. In 2013, this awe-inspiring building underwent a massive renovation and expansion, restoring the inspiring historic architectural masterpiece and expanding it to enable enhanced services to its member community and the greater Koreatown neighborhood on the east side of Los Angeles.

In the last 10 days I have visited this magnificent place 4 times and listened to 5 sermons. Each sermon was in some way a meditation on the journey that we call life. They were reminiscent of many of my coaching sessions, in the roles of both coach and client. Among the themes discussed were: personal growth and change, letting go, focusing on what matters most, gratitude, forgiveness, honoring memories, turning toward and turning away from…an abundance of inquiries and inspiration!

At the end of the second to last service of this 10 day journey, in the memorial service called Yizkor, there are several silent meditations to choose from. Every year I choose the same one. It has captured my heart and spirit and I want to share it with you here:

Birth is a beginning

And death a destination.

And life is a journey;

From childhood to maturity

And youth to age;

From innocence to knowing;

From foolishness to discretion

And then, perhaps, to wisdom;

From health to sickness

And back, we pray to health again;

From offensive to forgiveness,

From loneliness to love,

From joy to gratitude,

From pain to compassion,

And grief to understanding –

From faith to faith;

From defeat to defeat to defeat –

Until looking backwards or ahead,

We see that victory lies

Not at some high point along the way,

But in having made the journey, stage by stage,

A sacred pilgrimage.

Birth is a beginning

And death a destination.

And life is a journey,

A sacred pilgrimage –

To life everlasting.

-- Rabbi Alvin I. Fine

Franz Kafka said, “The meaning of life is that it stops.”

In the meantime, we journey.

What do you want to make of your journey?

photos by Lynne Harris Bernstein ©2013


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