It’s hard having been raised traditionally in one’s faith, and being a member of modern society, with critical thinking skills and being a fan of the scientific method.
I think, however, that we have found a balance between honoring the past, embracing tradition, and finding ways to create meaning within the choices we make.
The hard part comes, as it often does, when we enter Elul. Having been raised in traditional Judaism, even my modern, scientific mind has a hard time not picturing the big, “Book of life,” complete with feather pen and inkwell, all while the Unetanah Tokef plays in my mind:
בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה יִכָּתֵבוּן
…וּבְיוֹם צוֹם כִּפּוּר יֵחָתֵמוּ
On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed – how many shall pass away and how many shall be born, who shall live and who shall die, who in good time, and who by an untimely death…
And so, when it is time to say goodbye to someone, especially one who only has the language of their love, through purrs and head bumps, it is exceptionally difficult, and it challenges your faith.
Which is exactly why, I think, so many bright souls are extinguished during the month of Elul. Because death, according to Dumbledore, is “But the next great adventure. “But for those left behind, it just sucks. And during Elul, we double up our efforts to connect, to ask forgiveness, to sound the Shofar as an alarm clock to the soul, and to take stock of all that is around you.
It doesn’t make the goodbye easier, but it brings an additional spiritual level to it all, which, in the end, is exactly as it should be.
For those that don’t think it silly or heretical, an extra thought for קווינסי בן שרה לאנ ונעומי ורד (Quincy ben Sarah Leah v’Naomi Vered) would be appreciated, as we help prepare him to cross over to the rainbow bridge, and hopefully, be reunited with all of our other loved ones already there, waiting for him.