We are in the midst of the Days of Awe as they are known to all of our Jewish brothers and sisters. This 10-day period commences with Rosh Hashanah and ends on Yom Kippur.
This is the Jewish New Year and as such is a deep time of reflection, a turning within, as we shed the old year and turn to look at the new.
One of the main themes of the Days of Awe is the idea of atonement.
Apart from the name of a well-known book and film, what does this actually mean?
In the Jewish tradition, atonement is an act of reconciliation, the desire to make amends or reparations for a wrong-doing. This is a time to forgive and ask for forgiveness.
Jews believe that God has a book in which s/he is writing down all your good and bad deeds. This is done during the Days of Awe, so if you are willing to seek forgiveness, God may look favorably upon you.
In Christianity, we also see this word, atonement.
It largely refers to the idea of reconciliation with God. In the Christian concept, man has sinned (think Adam and Eve) and it was Jesus who sacrificed (and was resurrected) that atoned for the sins of the world. This act cleaned the slate and made everything right again with God.
But it is the definition found in A Course in Miracles that I most resonate with.
Here, atonement means to undo erroneous thinking.
This is because we have forgotten who we really are. We falsely believe that we are separate – a body and an ego - and not spirit. We think that we are distinct and apart from God. But the truth is that we are all spirit. Our true relationship is – that we are not separate from God. In other words, at-one-ment.
“You are the work of God, and His work is wholly loveable and wholly loving. This is how a man must think of himself in his heart, because this is what he is.” (ACIM, p.9)
Embrace this idea and see yourself as inherently loveable AND loving.
Atonement is the act of forgiving - both oneself and others. As it says in A Course in Miracles, “the forgiven are the means of atonement.” We forgive ourselves because we have forgotten who we truly are and we forgive all of our brothers and sisters for the same reason.
Have fun with this! Embrace these Days of Awe. Seek to forgive and start your new year fresh and free. And always remember your true nature, divine, perfect and at-one with God.