Field Shorts: Changing Seasons
When changing seasons, as from summer to fall, there are always things you sense it’s time to do…get school shoes & supplies, clean out the pool toys, look over the fall clothes and ditch the ratty tees. Our souls in season-change are no less – we sense a stirring, a nesting, a preparing, or even a ‘de-nesting’ to get ready. So here’s a tip for the closet of your heart – It’s time to clean out: forgive & let go.
Forgiveness is that place of a fresh start you allow yourself & others. In Jewish belief and practice, the time before Rosh Hashana, Head of the Year, is a season of prayer & fasting. This time of personal denial allows for reflection as to how one has possibly grieved or offended Heaven. It’s a time to yield to Ruach Ha-Kodesh’s tenderizing of the heart, which sometimes comes with inner questions as believers personally evaluate their daily walks, and if we recognize these seasons from Passover to Tabernacles as the feasts of the Lord, we tap into HIS seasons for movement. The end-of-summer-onset-of-fall can be a meaningful season of repentance, where the Holy Spirit can help us remember, in a positive way, where we stumbled, that in His mercy, we might ask forgiveness. This grace has the ability to help you see things through His lens rather than always through your own experience, and serves to keep us from presumption.
Yet forgiveness can’t stop there. It must extend to those around us, people that we may have also hurt, disappointed, offended or grieved. Those times are helpful to remember too, and that’s a much harder step – to take literally the 10 Days of Awe between Rosh Hashana, also known as the Feast of Trumpets, and Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement. During the days of awe, one reaches out to his neighbor on the left and right, and asks forgiveness so that he or she is clear before Adonai horizontally and vertically. His evaluation of us is never just between Him and us…He is always concerned with how that translates to others.
The need to forgive is addressed throughout ancient rabbinic literature and was underscored with a humorous and dramatic parable of Rabbi Yeshua – the King & the Wicked Servant. In this parable, a king is assessing his accounts and sees the monstrous debt of a servant. He orders payment, and the servant realizes quickly he is facing personal disaster…prison, the selling of all his belongings and the slavery of his children. Although he has a bill the size of a national debt, he begs for more time – as if “a little more time” will help him pay a million dollars! The merciful owner is moved with compassion, and forgives the enormous debt. Not long afterwards, the servant finds someone who owes him about $20. He slaps him around, puts on a chokehold, and orders the payment without mercy! The fellow servants are shocked and report him to the owner, who is much dismayed. He rebukes the forgiven servant who had received such mercy! How could he so abusively exact payment from another? He is found to be without mercy, and cast into the prison until every penny of his former debt is paid – it’s gonna be a really long prison stay to say the least!
And so the advice in this season of reflection, heart-cleaning, and changing of garments and seasons – Ditch the ratty tees. Don’t carry last year’s drama and bruises into your new season. Sort it out. Process, talk to an ally, do whatever it takes. Limit the rumination. Give yourself a focused season of prayer, then get up from there expecting divine help and guidance. Forget your failures as much as you forget the failures of others in the sense of not letting them all disrupt your soul peace and disturb relationships. Prepare your heart to release the hurts, forgive all wounds, be forgiven, and get ready to go forward into what’s next. Repeat daily as needed :)
Footnotes:  The moedim, or feasts/appointed times of the Lord are detailed in Torah in Exodus chapters 12, 23, 34, Leviticus 23, and again in Numbers.  Matthew 18:23-35. Notice Yeshua adds a zinger – ‘So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you from his heart does not forgive his brother his trespasses.’