When designing a garden, we like to create “transition moments”. A transition moment is a place to stop as you move along the garden path. A place to stop and look forward and backward. Looking backward lets us see the path we’ve been walking on, and the garden we’ve been walking through, only now from another perspective. Looking forward lets us evaluate the path in front of us.
A transition might be defined by a wide spot in the path, or a wide spot accompanied by a sharp turn, or maybe a bridge. The best “transition moments” in a garden force us to make a decision, to decide on one path or another, to aim for one place in the garden or the other.
Along the path of life, we’re presented with transition moments all the time – probably far more often than we realize. Sometimes they’re planned moments, sometimes they’re ritual moments, and sometimes they’re moments of surprise that jump out of the bushes at us. Sometimes they’re all 3 at once.
Jewish tradition marks the passing of each year as one of those important transition moments in life. Each year, Rosh Hashanah marks the bridge that we cross from one year to the next. On that bridge, we stand and reflect – to look back and to look forward. In looking back, we honestly accept responsibility for the path that we’ve walked for the past year, looking directly into the eye of both the good and the bad for which we’re responsible.
On a garden path, a well-designed “transition moment” will hold me for a few minutes. It won’t rush me forward onto the next section of path, but will hold me a moment, to enjoy the reflection and appreciation that the moment offers.
As we pause on the bridge between the years at Rosh Hashanah, we take the time for reflection and appreciation. We don’t rush forward into the next year, but take the time to reflect and understand. We make decisions thoughtfully and intentionally. Jewish tradition defines this period as the High Holy Days that begin with Rosh Hashanah, and progress for 10 days toward Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Rosh Hashanah begins this evening at sundown for Jews around the world. I wasn’t raised with Jewish tradition, but I’m quite taken by this holiday period and what it represents. While this might not be a holiday that I celebrate by tradition, I can incorporate its sacred lessons, habits, and behavior into the next 10 days of my life. I can look for way to see this as a bridge upon which I pause and reflect, looking back down across the path that I’ve been walking.
A different perspective, and a pause…