On Rosh Hashana a bunch of us from the Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation gathered at the river like we do every year for Taslich, a ritual to cast our sins on the water or — to release what no longer serves us to the forces that be. This is one of my favorite rituals all year, a time of tossing crumbs and handfuls of old bread into the Kaw River, letting go over what needs to move on.
What made it all the more special to me this year was walking from downtown Lawrence to the river with Forest and a friend facing health challenges. We wove through a neighborhood, pausing to admire stone rabbits in a yard or a multi-color painted lady of an old house between talking about what’s behind and what’s ahead. Once at the river, we circled the sculptures of Native people and a small deer, sat on the rocks by the water and admired the sky.
Soon people from the LJCC joined us for a short service, standing on the banks of the river in a circle, prayerbooks in hands as we prayed in Hebrew and English for renewal and peace. Th
en it was time to throw bread on the water. “I’ve got a lot of sin. Come share it with me,” Sharyn told us, holding up a hunk of challah. I ended up with small pieces of challah, whole wheat and rye bread, tossing them onto the rushing river alongside others.
With one of my friends, we actually call out what we’re getting rid of: “Moments of not being kind enough!”, “All forms of self-hatred!”, “Not enough clear seeing!” and whatever else comes to mind. With another friend, we tossed hunks of old challah in silence. Standing with old friends and my youngest son, I threw a lot of bread on that river as the fresh breezes of a perfect autumn day cleansed us all.
Walking back downtown, down a trail hugging the edge of the water, with my friend and son, I felt new as the rivers surged way ahead of me, taking what cares I gave it far around the bend.