Do you ever feel, as I do, that the holidays come around too fast, "before I am ready"? This year, I've come to see that that is just the point! We're not ready! We're never going to BE ready.
We plod along, day to day, in what the sages regard as a half-sleep state. Get up. Feed the cats. Get dressed. Get the tasks done that need to be done for today. Go to bed.
But our holy days build a seasonal structure in which we make meaning from this plodding.
Our fall Yamim Nora'im remind us that life doesn't go on forever, and that now, NOW is the time to think about that. What spiritual and moral business have we been putting off? What must we do THIS year?
Our Sages have wisely structured in the month of Elul preceding Rosh HaShanah to blow the shofar every morning and recite prayers of repentance. This creates the space to focus on what we need to change, the corrective course we need to take. Our evening of Slichot, preceding Rosh Hashanah by no more than a week, we will chant the seasonal melodies that hearken us. The mood begins to descend upon us and the holiday readies us!
And then, Rosh Hashanah has begun! For ten days we are elevated in our progressive spiritual ascent above this plodding plane. At Rosh Hashanah, we are reminded of the possibility of renewal, and at Yom Kippur, we practice facing our death along with a spiritual rebirth. Then we glide down with our transformed selves through Sukkot, the season of "Joy, nothing but joy!"
Are we ever "ready" for anything that happens in our lives? The holidays are here to pull and tug at us, to remind us, get us there, ready or not.