A month to get ready. That should be ample. Every year we have this gift, like football players going to summer training camp before the big Fall kickoff— only ours is a spiritual kickoff. You know what happens to the holdouts—the ones who don’t show up for camp? They are in no shape to play the game. They might suit up, but they sit on the bench. How often do we sit on the bench at the High Holy Days?— all suited up, but not truly in the game— not much fun.
This analogy may be a bigger stretch than some. No one is paying us millions of dollars to perform dazzling feats of athletic prowess, let alone spiritual.
And while we may (or may not) gather for game day (Rosh Hashanah) how many of us mobilize a staff of coaches and trainers or dozens of fellow players to get us in shape?
Elul is pretty much up to us to handle alone. As we approach the Day of Atonement we may need to practice alone-ment. I am alone with the whispers of my heart. I am alone judging myself for the past year. I am alone hoping and praying for the year to come. Few of us experience the power of that alonement. Ironically, alonement prepares us to make infinite connections-- it sets the stage for reaching out to God and more importantly to others. Then we are not alone. Then we become at one. That is how we atone.
May you create the time and space to have Elul.
May you find ways to make yourself ready for game day which, after all, is every day.
May you be ready to hear what Life demands of you, and may you respond with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might—in every season of the year and every day of your life.