One of my favorite authors, Sister Joan Chittester, has written;
Life gives us all a chance over and over again to do today what we did not do last year or in another place or yesterday. Life, however interrupted, is one long moment of coming to be the best we can be. But the growing is not linear. It is at best a process of stops and starts, of moments apparently without meaning and times that test the fiber of the soul.
I find the High Holydays to be a cleansing, and even exhilarating experience. But as the Holydays arrived this year, I also found that the resolutions I made the previous fall have barely been fulfilled, if at all. I wonder if this year I am truly a better parent, a better spouse, a better friend, as I vowed to be one year ago. If I answer myself truthfully, I find that I have fallen short yet again in all those areas.
Sister Joan’s teaching brings me immense comfort. Progress is slow, fitful, and uneven. Every step forward is accompanied by steps back. Perhaps that is why I always look forward to Sukkot. On Sukkot, we build a fragile hut of boards and bamboo, and eventually take it down again to be stored away for next year. Every year I put it up, and every year I confront the reality of having to take it down. That is kind of like the promises I make to myself to improve ethically and spiritually and socially. Every fall I try to envision a new life for myself, a new way of being, and it is as fragile as a hut, and sometimes over the course of the year it falls or is taken down. But I know that next year I can try to build it again. Self-construction is a task that can be attempted again and again.