While our family is not religious, we do consider ourselves very spiritual. Being of the Jewish faith, we are of a sect that is commonly known as 'reformed,' loosely observant of traditional religious observances. We attend services on the highest (holiest) holidays each year and our children have all been bar-mitzvahed, a celebration of boys becoming young men in the eyes of God when they are trained in and allowed to read from the Torah.
About twenty years ago we gathered as a family in the Catskills area of upstate New York to celebrate the first day of Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Jewish New Year. It is our belief that on this day the Book of Life is opened and our names are listed within. Many believe that all of our names are on this list, no matter our religion - Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, Atheist, everyone. It is said that next to our names are listed our deeds, intentions, thoughts and actions for the past year.
When the book is opened, it is said that God provides us the opportunity to rectify any wrongs we may have committed and ask forgiveness for pettiness, jealousy, hurtful words or thoughts we had about others; to forgive others for their transgressions and repent to him as well. We have a week to right these wrongs, repent and forgive others before the Book of Life is sealed with our fates for the coming year.
In the Catskills the temple that we attended, while very religious, still openly welcomed all, no matter the depth of one's beliefs. Being a very religious temple, the women sat upstairs on a large balcony with cushioned benches while the men remained downstairs, close to the Ark in which the Torah was kept.
Have you ever asked for forgiveness? I mean, really truly from the depth of your heart and soul asked, begged, even cried out for forgiveness? This was me twenty years ago. Married just 7 years with a 3 year old son, I had been flirting with another man and it had felt wonderful. My husband and I were going through a challenging time and my ego was being nourished by another man - and it felt good. I had such guilt, such remorse, such humiliation. How could I be tempted like that, I was a wife, a mother? I was questioning my marriage, questioning everything.
Interesting thing, asking to be forgiven. Usually it feels like a prayer, a meditation. I allow a breath afterwards and go on about my day. Not this time. I was the recipient of a true gift, a true blessing.
During temple services, there are times we sit, times we stand depending on the pages we are reading from in the bible. I am standing, wide awake, eyes open. I am begging, pleading with my heart and soul from the depths of my being for forgiveness. And that is when the miracle of my vision appears.
Eyes wide open, a vision appears to me. Blue skies with just a few white puffy clouds appear and the sun is shining brightly with rays streaming down. Then the rays of sunshine gather and with laser like focus, descend onto a man bound to a cross. There is no doubt in my mind as to what I was shown. This man was Jesus. A simple white cloth draped cross the lower portion of his torso with his arms wide open, I have no doubt what was shared with me.
Then those same rays of sunshine continue through Jesus and land on me. Directly onto me. It was a beautiful and peaceful experience, a few moments in time that will never leave me.
I knew in that moment that I had truly been forgiven. I was blessed and given the gift of seeing it.