Journal entry by Eve Ilsen — 1 hour ago
Yesterday, I went to the demonstration for the environment.
I was one of the first to arrive at the designated intersection. I was lent a sign. Gradually, a robust crowd gathered---the expected students; gratified to find lots of white-haired contemporaries. Many passing cars honked approval...how ironic. One of the rabbis arrived from quite a distance on his bicycle.
Today, after a restorative shabbos, I went to shul for a film preceding Selichot services---the restoration of Jewish gravestones in Poland that had been pulled out and desecrated by the Nazis. This film, thank G-d, showed all the Poles who had helped re-create a field of memorial, honoring those whose stones these were, hearing from many who had hidden Jews in their barns, attics.
I found that I wanted to come home and journal my Selichot alone.
Year after year, the regrets I carry have never found comfort or surcease from this service in shul---not since my beloved, z'l, stopped leading Selichot.
And of course my most profound regrets arise year after year, and do not seem to diminish in intensity of grief; they are the things that cannot be repaired in this lifetime. I may well have long been forgiven by the loved ones, gone now, that I believe I had hurt, or for whom I feel I had not done enough.
I still have not forgiven myself.
A voice in my head: ¿What would you tell a client who said this?
I would say:
write the feelings and regrets in a detailed letter to each one
take each letter outside in a metal or pyrex bowl, and burn it; watch the smoke rise (this is one way to send letters to the dead) [have water nearby just in case]
keep some ashes, labled, in a prayer space or altar
(can try some in a sealed envelope beneath the pillow to invite dreams)
spread the rest at the base of plants as fertilizer
give some tzedakah in memory of each of these loved ones
do this before Rosh Hashanah
I will take some time this week to follow my own advice.
I hear my mother's voice: "You can always write later; we're not going anywhere. Go to the Jaipur Literary Festival at the library tomorrow."