I looked up at the moon and stars the other night.
I was busy that evening, rushing from a Yom Kippur break-fast in one neighborhood to meet up with friends for an outdoor concert in another. But as I looked up at the sky, I stopped in my tracks.
It was a half a moon set against a bit of haze in the sky that night.
We're bombarded with images and stories in the news about all the horrors in the world lately, both abroad and here at home. But as I looked up at the moon and stars, the world looked so peaceful. I saw beauty, hope, and promise in the year that lay ahead.
We Jews get a fresh start this time of year. There's something invigorating about the unknown, all the possibilities and uncharted territory that will play out for each of us in the new year.
After we watched some doors close in 5773, new windows will open for us in 5774.
I attended Yom Kippur services at Mishkan Chicago, a non-denominational, welcoming Jewish movement started two years ago in Chicago by the inspiring Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann. Mishkan Chicago's mission centers around bringing more meaning and joy to each of us through prayer.
During the Torah service, Rabbi Heydemann invited people from the community up onto the pulpit for different aliyot depending on experiences we've had in the past year and where we're headed in the new one.
One of the groups of people she invited up were those who plan to make a big choice this year.
And, really, each of us will make many choices in the coming year--and that's exciting. We already know what some of them are, but other decisions won't present themselves to us for a while, or even until the moment we face them.
Reflect on the decisions, the big and small ones, you've made over your lifetime. We never realize what seems like an insignificant decision can ultimately change the course of your life.
It's so very "Sliding Doors," a movie where one small moment changes the course of history for its main character.
We make our own choices--that's what free will is all about. But simultaneously, I find comfort in the concept of b'shert, knowing--hoping--that some of the choices we'll make this year, and that which is b'shert, work in harmony.
Perhaps some of the steps along our journey are out of our hands, preordained by God, a force bigger than all of us. Perhaps who we're meant to meet, what we're meant to do, and who we're meant to become is written in the moon and stars.