26 Elul 5783
Rabbi Allison RH Conyer
Etz Chayim Progressive Synagogue
Cheshbon Hanefesh River Reflection
Imagine yourself out in the Bush, by yourself. The sun is beating down on your head and back. You feel beads of sweat dripping down the sides of your face. You are about to sit on a rock and take a break, when you hear sounds of running water. You walk towards the sound until you come to a stream. You follow the stream down a hill until you come upon a beautiful pool of water. You gaze longingly at the pool, considering your options. Ultimately, you run whole-heartedly, fully clothed into the water. When you emerge, you feel refreshed, clear-headed, and content.
Closing your eyes, you lie by the edge of the water, allowing the sun to drink up the pearls of liquid from your skin and clothes. Relaxed, you open your eyes and bend to look at your reflection in the water. It takes your eyes some adjustment period to see your image on the surface. As you continue to stare at your face on the water, you become aware of the warped and distorted image, as it constantly bends and pulls with the movement of the emptying stream. When you stare deeply at your image, you begin to see through it to the waters below and the life within. It is at that moment, you understand…
Cheshbon ha’nefesh – an accounting of the soul – is a warped and distorted reflection of who we are, based on what we’ve done during the year. Our actions are judged, not our inner life, not the process that we undertook to decide our actions. But our actions are a reflection of the depths of our souls, of all that noise, that quiet, that conversation inside our hearts and minds. Our actions are what we choose to let through our filters and show the world. As we journey towards the Yamim Noraim the High Holy Days, we will follow different cues leading us to our pool of water.
We can choose to jump in or stand by the side. We can even choose to continue walking, ignoring the beckoning call of the waters urging us to reflect and renew. If we take the time, our reflections will be there for us to see, both distorted by the actions we’ve taken and by revealing the depths of truth that lay behind each action. This is our choice. This is our chance. It’s now up to each of us.See more Elul Reflections