May 2021 be a year of healing for everyone who is ill. May it be a year of healing in body and spirit, across society and nations, and between humanity and nature. May it be a year of chesed ve’emet, honesty, integrity, kindness and generosity.
I want to give thanks to everyone who has helped preserve our physical and mental health and sustain our spirit:
Thank you to everyone who has kept in touch with neighbours, turned acquaintances into friends and shared their cares;
Thank you to everyone who has preserved and strengthened community, who, undaunted by tiers and lockdowns, has created ways for us to connect;
Thank you to everyone who has found beauty and wonder in nature and opened our eyes to see it as well;
Thank you to everyone who has brought music and poetry to cheer our spirit;
Thank you to everybody who has found wells of emotional and spiritual strength and helped us find them too;
Thank you to everyone who has kept our conscience alert and our moral horizon wide;
Thank you to everyone who has helped us through their example to live by the values of justice and compassion we profess;
Thank you to everybody who, at personal risk, has served long and challenging shifts in care homes, surgeries, hospitals, ambulances and in public health;
Thank you to everyone who has worked inventively and undauntedly to engage and educate children and young people
Thank you to everyone who has made sure the shops and foodbanks aren’t empty, the recycling and waste is still collected, and letters and parcels are delivered;
Thank you to everyone who has shown chesed, kindness, and chesed shebechesed, kindness within kindness, that special sensitivity which touches the heart;
Thank you to everyone who has, in spite of everything, found ways of keeping positive through bleak days and who has helped us by acknowledging how hard that can be;
Thank you to everyone who has kept a sense of humour.
Yesterday I heard a remarkable address by a grandfather to his granddaughter on her Bat Mitzvah. Don’t chase happiness, he said; like a butterfly, it will always drift away just as you think you are about to grasp it. What happiness you do find will be along the way, in little things and small moments. Rather, seek to be giving. Thank you, then, to everyone who has been and continues to be giving.
In special reflections last night – we haven’t usually marked the secular new year as a community – we drew on the ancient night-time prayers known as Tikkun Rachel and Tikkun Le’ah. They focus on seeking an end to exile and finding new hope. Therefore they speak to us in our mini-exile from our family, friends and familiar places and in our longing to come back together.
They include the beautiful 42nd Psalm
Like a deer longs for pools of water, so my soul longs for you, God…Don’t be downcast, my soul: hope in God…For by day God commands lovingkindness and by night God’s song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
May lovingkindness guide us and God’s song sustain us in the year ahead.