Recently, in the high holy days of our Jewish neighbors in town we were invited by Rabbi Mimi Micner to Temple Beth Torah’s celebration of Tashlich. For us Gentiles, that refers to casting away our sins of the past and with the new Jewish year, beginning with a clean slate and a pure heart. This is done ritually with prayer, song, the blowing of the shofar, and casting stones into a body of water, ridding ourselves of the burdens of the past year.
For me, it was one of the most spiritual experiences I ever had. My Catholic faith is often like a roller coaster with both highs and lows. My biggest battle is recovering from religious trauma and the conflicts I often feel with leadership in my own church. So, it makes sense to take the stones of burden I wish to release and let go, every stone is every hurt. As I did so Rabbi Mimi read a beautiful poem that seemed freeing to me as I cast my stones.
It seemed powerful that it is possible to cast harm into deep water, that the ritual expresses a real possibility to be free of hurt, and the space it provides for something new, something hopeful. The stones sank deep into the Divine heart we all share. As a Catholic, I felt so close to Jewish friends who welcomed me, a stranger in their midst. Casting stones made me think of the possibilities peoples of all faiths hold in their hands.
We cast into the depths of the sea our sins
And failures and regrets.
Reflections of our imperfect selves flow away.
What can we bear,
With what can we bear to part?
We upturn the darkness, bring what is buried to
What hurts still lodge,
What wounds have yet to heal?
We empty our hands,
Release the remnants of shame,
Let go fear and despair
That have dug their home in us.
Open hands, oping heart –
The year flows out, the year flows in.