by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen
Photo: Mary North Allen
The challenge in life is to figure out how to turn our pain into beauty. My mother, z"l often spoke of the challenge of dealing with pain as she navigated a life marked by trauma and mental crises, as well as profound and beautiful artwork and deep friendships. My brother, a gifted musician, repeats these words often. And lately, long after my mother's passing, they have been resonating strongly with me, informing my life.
As we celebrate the New Year and enter Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe, and the 10 Days of Repentance, one of the two most intense times in the Jewish calendar, I invite you to journey with me through an exploration of turning pain into beauty. As you light the candles to welcome Rosh Hashanah, eat apples dipped in honey to symbolize our desire for a sweet and good year, I invite you to meditate on how these simple traditional rituals are transforming something difficult within you into beauty and hope.
Consider the questions: What pain do you carry? How do you or might you transform that pain into beauty? What is beauty and what does it mean to you? How does transforming your pain into beauty bring you closer to the Holy One of Blessing? How can you express and articulate this process? What related questions bubble up?
As we journey together through these Ten Awe-Filled and Potentially Transformative Days, may all of your questions spiral through you and give life to a renewed state of forgiveness.
Rabbi Katy Allen is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long and has a growing children’s outdoor learning program, Y’ladim BaTeva. She is the founder of the Jewish Climate Action Network-MA, a board certified chaplain, and a former hospital and hospice chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY, in 2005. She is the author of A Tree of Life: A Story in Word, Image, and Text and lives in Wayland, MA, with her spouse, Gabi Mezger, who leads the.singing at Ma'yan Tikvah.