Friday, September 13, 2013

Reflection on a Friday

Forgive my radio silence; there are changes afoot. But more importantly, that is what tomorrow is all about - asking for forgiveness and forgiving others. Ok, my blog delinquency may not fall under any of the categories of sins requiring atonement on Yom Kippur, but I am sure there are plenty of other transgressions to contemplate over the 25 hours of the holiday. Like some previous years, I find myself in a position where attending services or observing with other Jews is not actually possible. Luckily, I am not particularly religious, and am concerned with the spirit of the holiday rather than following it to a T. 

Um, Rachel, you do know that this is a food blog (with some environment sprinkled in), right? Jewish holidays, without exception, bring in an element of food. Yom Kippur just happens to focus on the absence of it. Or rather, the fast from sundown to sundown is intended to focus the mind away from outside distractions. This year, the irony is that Saturday is my first full day in a country that revels in gastronomy - Italia - and I am the one in charge of food and meals during a week-long yoga retreat. As such, I actually began my fast and period of reflection and contemplation last evening, a day early. The transitional time only makes this holiday more especially powerful this year, having in the last week packed up my life in DC, hauled it in several suitcases across an ocean, and have begun to set up shop in my new overseas home. In many ways, I am afforded the opportunity to begin with the clean slate discussed around a new year: residing in a country that is not my own for the foreseeable future, knowing essentially no one, and needing to find and build relationships, community with my peers and professors in a way that is reminiscent of first day, freshman year.

Let's bring this back to food, though. Today, I can be mindful of my lack thereof; of paucity in a world of plenty; of trying move beyond preoccupation with the physical body (much as in yoga). For the rest of the week, however, our group of eight yogis will be mindful about the food we prepare and consume - where it comes from, yes, but also the process of preparation and presentation; the enjoyment, awareness, and thankfulness for each morsel. I admit to never truly approaching food in this manner, yet this will follow on the heels of the most self-conscious holiday of the year. 

Here's to a contemplative fast, and breaking it in Italy! Next year in Jerusalem? (or more likely the UK...).

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