Left/Right & Up/Down & ABC’s
Atonement works in two different directions:
horizontally ➡ and vertically ⬆.
➡ Atonement on the horizontal axis is reserved for matters of forgiveness between people. For societal and social trespasses, we must engage both sides in reparation and forgiveness with our fellows.
⬆ Atonement must also be considered vertically for errors, grievances, sins, peccadillos, and offenses between ourselves and our higher sense of self – or with reality as a whole.
Judaism has wonderful teachings and traditions about absolution, from biblical scapegoats to rabbinic prescriptions for the application of living water to remove impurities. In Judaism, abecedarii (acrostics spelling out the alphabet) are used to convey the entirety of the idea. For example, in a traditional confession of sin, we list one sin per 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and one per 26 letters of the English alphabet. This liturgical “A to Z” is used to include even the things we omit.
In the community high-holiday service I run, we start with the letter “A,” and all of us atone for the sins we have committed with “a” words:
for the sins we have commited by being arrogant
for the sins we have committed by apathy
for the sins we have committed by allowing anger to lead us
And then after “A,” we do “B” and “C,” all the way to “Z”.
This year it hit me somewhat differently: why not do this acrostic on the vertical ⬆axis, as well?
So, I did this with God from A to Z, rehashing my relationship with my higher self, with (the) God (of my understanding), with my relationship to the universe.
And, I’m going to suggest you do this too.
You can feel closer to (the) God (of your understanding) no matter your beliefs in the concept created by the letters gee-oh-dee. You do not need to believe in an active, external deity to do this activity.
If you want my help in deconstructing (or reconstructing) your relationship with (the) God (of your understanding), or you want to know about the book I wrote on the subject click here.
Remember the goal here is to help you find peace with reality – a synonym for (the) God (of your understanding).
So here are our twenty-six letters.
What words can you come up with to describe your current relationship with the vertical ⬆.
My first moves were to fill in the “F” and the “I”
I realized that I often ignore or plain forget about being in a relationship with reality / the divine.
I looked at the rest of the letters.
The next one I filled in was “S”
I’m not exactly sure what it means for me to say that I’d “second guess” something on this vertical axis. But I’m okay with this just being a religious language version of me saying, “I don’t always accept reality as it is.”
So now it’s your turn.
Think about your relationship to God as you understand that word. And fill in letters.
What are your first letter? What “errors, grievances, sins, peccadillos, and offenses” exist between you and reality?
Go for 22 letters or more.
- Positives, too. Don’t just do the errors, grievances, sins, peccadillos, and offenses for which it would be good for you to engage in reparation and forgiveness and, ultimately, atonement. Write down (maybe in a different color) the ways in which your relationship with the concept of gee-oh-dee / reality is going well.
- Gamify. This might be easier to do with someone else. So, print it out and make it a dinner discussion or do it with friends at lunch. (Beats talking about shows you might have binge-watched.)
- Help. Hey, I’m here. Have you been looking for an excuse to talk with me? I’m available. Send me an email. I would love to help you strengthen your relationship with reality / (the) God (of your understanding).