I wrote the draft of this post at 6AM on the First of September 2020 as I was thinking about the September Soul, my September Soul. How do I feel about September? Does September change my thinking? My intentions? My heart? My longings?
This is the 73rd September of my life, and the first September I have ever thought about September’s influence on my soul. How does my September Soul differ from my August Soul? My days don’t change that much from month to month. I live in North Carolina so the weather doesn’t change dramatically from month to month. Perhaps the weather of my soul is like North Carolina, definitely seasonal changes, but month to month is subtle…unless I pay attention.
In writing these posts on the Monthly Soul I am discovering my Soul’s Calendar. I am beginning to imagine the benefits of a monthly attention that is not an obedience but an opportunity. Maybe it is a different inner dance or mood each month.
For me, September feels like a return to normal and a time of rebalancing. Of course, this relates to my experience of going back to the focus, rhythms and work of the school year as a child and as a mother. Labor Day (which was instituted by the US Government in 1882) seems to tell me it’s time to get back to work.
As I spent sometime researching the social and sacred events of September, I began to see and feel an inner opportunity stand out for my contemplation. September gives us a time to forgive and repent.
Forgive and Repent
In the Jewish tradition, there are the Ten Days of Awe, beginning with Rosh Hashannah, the New Year and ending with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Jewish folk see these as ten days when God judges our deeds. While God judges, we forgive and we repent.
I find the imagination of the Ten Days of forgiveness and repentance a blessing of higher social balance. If we give our whole-hearted attention to forgiveness and repentance, we will eventually move beyond the victim/perpetrator consciousness that so corrupts our social lives and personal narratives.
Any devotion to a balanced practice will over time move from an ideal to a reality. If this September, between the 18th, Rosh Hashanah, and the 28th, Yom Kippur, you spend 10 minutes each day focussing on forgiveness (the victim forgives the harm) and 10 minutes focussing on repentance (the perpetrator repents the harm) you will find a centering peace in your soul for the rest of the year. Don’t let feelings of resentment, revenge, avoidance, guilt or shame keep you from this brief practice.
God judges the truth, beauty and goodness of our forgiveness and our repentance…not the perpetrations or harms we have experienced as victim or perpetrator.
A September Practice
Suggestions for this practice: Contemplate and write. Make a list of harms that need to be forgiven and repented. Don’t confuse harms with individuals. It’s not I forgive this person, but I forgive this harm. It’s not I repent my existence but I repent this harm. Begin with the what and don’t rush to the who. Each day for ten days choose one harm to forgive and one to repent.
I have attached the description of the Four Sacraments of Consciousness: Questions Only, Poetic Imagination, Biographical Reflection and Courageous Self-Expression. These sacraments are used in attaining the three stages of awareness: perception, understanding, and knowledge. Work the four sacraments to perceive the harm, or forgiveness, or repentance. Then use them to find understanding of each. Then repeat the process as many times as needed until the constant perceiving and understanding marry into living knowledge.
The Shining Two-Edged Sword
How does anyone of us find the courage to take up this practice? This question is answered in the last days of September when we celebrate Michaelic devotion.
On September 29th, we come to Michaelmas and the celebration of the courage of equanimity as it lives in the Archangel Micha-el. Micha-el encourages us, models for us these balanced abilities to forgive and repent. Maybe the dragon Micha-el slays is the resistance to forgive and repent that we all struggle with.
September tells us that to harvest inner peace we must get to the hard soul labor of forgiving and repenting so we can rise up to the equanimity that shines out from the two-edged sword of Micha-el. Forge your own two-edged sword every September.
Labor Day is a day of gratitude for everyone’s contribution to our lives. I can work with this gratitude towards all those who undertake the inner labor of forgiveness and repentance because they contribute to peace in the world and in the future.
Thank you for your devotion to forgiveness and repentance.
This work of September is particularly significant in our polarized and divided times of hatred and fear.