27 January 2010


The sixth of 19 brief meditations on the 19 blessings of the Amidah.


Forgive us, Source of Life, for we have missed the mark; pardon us, our Sovereign, for we have sinned; for you pardon and forgive. Blessed are you, Eternal, who is merciful and always ready to forgive.

Bryan Stevenson, who runs the Equal Justice Initiative, defending death row inmates in Montgomery, Alabama, once said in a speech, "Each of us is better than the worst thing we've ever done."

Are we whole or are we the sum of our parts? And what happens when one equation in the sum of our parts has the potential to tip the balance toward not good, or less good, or even evil, away from good?

This is the most important of all the prayers we offer in our 19 blessings, quietly emerging a third the way through to demonstrate that the Sages, in their construction of the Amidah as a prayer recited three times daily, understood that our imperfection as human beings can be met with the consistent response required: presence and understanding.

Presence: we ask forgiveness three times a day. At every interval of time--morning, noon and night--we accept that our fallibility will dog us, challenge us, but that perfection is not the goal. Understanding is. And correction. Another attempt. Not scarred or indelibly marked by an original or permanent condition; rather, whole in our imperfection. A whole sum of forward and backward steps that from the perspective of one blessing, offers forgiveness as a window of light on the darkened soul of genuine and honest introspection.

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