During the Yamim Noraim (High Holidays) season this year, The Layers Project will be focusing on the concept of “Cheshbon Hanefesh”- “Accounting of the Soul”- on a personal and communal level. It is a time, where we are meant to reflect upon our actions, relationships, goals and connection to the Divine. For me personally, when I have begun to consider what the new year might bring, it is hard to look forward because I am still looking backwards in awe.
This year was a time of intense personal growth. Most of the time, it felt like I was living a life of miracles. For many years previously, I had been very ill with chronic illness. My life was small, challenging and often dark. My days were filled with prayer, hoping that tomorrow would be different- that I would have the stamina to stand a little longer, walk a little farther- to feel alive. I was angry and scared, but I used that time to work on a middah that was not organic to me. Patience. I took one day at a time, trying to learn from the divinely inspired test of illness, to mold me and prod me into the life trajectory that I am currently on.
Last Rosh Hashana, I had begun to see the glimpses of a future for myself where I could be healthy and strong. Last Rosh Hashana, I was developing my photography skills, wondering if I could learn enough, be able- bodied enough, be creative enough to make a dent in the world. Last Rosh Hashana, I was too weak to walk to shul- and I prayed by myself- hoping that this year would be different.
This Rosh Hashana, I will look back on a year where, after so long, G-d answered my prayers. The timing was right, He had determined that it was time to wake back up from the slumber of sickness and reenter the world. He blessed me with incredible people who inspired me to work hard, who taught me about life, and how to not get sucked under by it’s challenges. As my body healed, my world opened far wider than I could have imagined- opportunities came, and even though I was terrified, I took them. Though I continue to struggle in many ways, life can be blessed and imperfect.
When I consider what I will pray for this year, I first must stop to express my gratitude. To my wonderful supportive family, children and husband, who have supported me, pushed me and been patient with me, in all my personal and professional endeavors. To you- the wonderful Layers Project community, who has helped me find my voice- an amalgamation of all my passions, a space to continue my quest for authenticity, connection and healing.
To G-d, who gives and takes, who teaches and nurtures us even when we suffer. I have worked so hard, but none of my effort is what made my dreams a reality. First and foremost in this season, I must offer my very humbled, gratitude.
After ten years of longing, I have finally returned, and am visiting my parents in their new home. This holiday season I will be spending in Eretz Yisrael- with my newly immigrated parents and siblings. I have waited ten years, to breathe this holy air again and feel the dust beneath my feet. The separation from this place has been painful- for I was too ill to make the flight. Thank G-d, my family and I have finally arrived here, and I look forward to spending the next month acquainting them with all the spaces that I love, that give me life, and that feels like home. We begin a new journey here- always knowing from where our blessings come.
I wish you all a shana tova u’metuka- sweetness and brachot in the new year- may all your prayers be answered and may you all have a year filled with health and success!