Believe in Forgiveness: A Yom Kippur Reflection

Believe in Forgiveness: A Yom Kippur Reflection

I believe in you. That if you set your mind and heart to do something, you can do it.

I believe in God. That God can…what?

Today is Yom Kippur, so I suppose I believe that God can facilitate forgiveness.

But how?

In our liturgy, God is a character. A superhero. The seer of consequences. The master of pardons. The conqueror of sin. A role model we can try to copy. Each in our own small way.

For some of us, God is an inner witness. A confidant, a conversation partner. Sometimes, when we try to work things out inside ourselves before taking action, we are also talking with God. When we have hurt someone or have been hurt, our inner witness helps us think things through and decide what to do.

And for some of us, God is an energy that fills consciousness and overflows it. An infinity that holds the universe. That keeps the world from dissolving into nothing. And when we hurt, that energy holds us. In love, in calm, in time, as we heal.

I believe in you. And in You.

In the words of Rainer Maria Rilke:

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.

I want to free what waits within me

so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear

without my contriving.


If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,

but this is what I need to say.

May what I do flow from me like a river,

no forcing and no holding back,

the way it is with children.


Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,

these deepening tides moving out, returning,

I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels

into the open sea.


Words offered between the “Emet” (truth) prayer and “Mi Chamocha” (song of the sea) prayer on Yom Kippur. 

Image: Duncansby Head, northernmost point of mainland Scotland, photo by Laura Duhan Kaplan.

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