The Power of Repentance
29th September 2022
‘Of all acts of man repentance is the most divine. The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.’
HOM: Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision
This week from the eve of October 4th until nightfall on October 5th Jews around the world will mark the most solemn day on the religious calendar, Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is considered the most important holiday and marks the culmination of the ten Days of Awe, a period of introspection and repentance that follows Jewish new Year. Jews are encouraged to make amends and ask forgiveness for sins committed during the past year. It is a time of fasting and cleansing of body and spirit and a time for renewal.
Both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are at the beginning of the academic year and therefore for me personally, it feels like the real new year. It is a time to take stock and reflect on the past year and set new targets but also to consider what we may need to change and that may involve repentance.
Repentance is a little used word outside a religious context in which it is an important and necessary precursor to salvation. And in religious contexts it often involves an act of confession to God directly or through a spiritual elder (monk or priest). This involves an expression of regret for past wrongs and a commitment to personal change and resolving to live a kinder and more responsible life. And it exists within a secular context too, often forming a part of the process of psychological healing that takes place during a course of psychotherapy (the psychotherapist… a kind of secular priest/confessor?)
So this week at Wychwood we will stop and take time to reflect on the year past and the year ahead. None of us is perfect and there maybe things for which we may need to make amends. Most importantly we will think about practical things we can do to make the year ahead better for others as well as ourselves.