Narrow Bridge

Yom Kippur was yesterday. It doesn't seem quite right to describe Yom Kippur as good, but it was good to me this year. It helped me move through some things that I needed to feel, contemplate, talk about, and release. It was awesome, humbling, and inspiring. I felt strongly connected to my community and to what it means to share our burdens, hopes, and desire for change. 

Today I found myself singing one of the High Holiday songs all day long, a song based on the words of Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav:

Kol ha-olam kulo gesher tzar m’od v’ha-ikkar lo l’faheid k’lal.
“The whole world is a narrow bridge, and the essential thing is not to fear at all.”

As is always the case with me, the gorgeous melody is what caught my attention first, but I am also intrigued by the words. Bridges are a wonderful metaphor, one that often resonates with me. I also love the visual this one presents. 

The second line gets more complicated for me.  I clam up when it says, "not to fear at all." How impossible! Of course we fear. We are hard wired to fear. A narrow bridge is just the kind of thing that triggers my fear, big time. The question is what we do with our fear. I prefer to think about acknowledging our fear, leaning into it a little, and then remembering that we do not have to fear. We can find ways to ground ourselves, to get support, and to find our strength.

I do agree that the role of fear is essential. I was struck this year that when I got to the essence of each of the issues most on my mind, there was fear. Fear was driving the behavior I don't like in myself, fear was driving my anger towards others, and fear was driving my reluctance to change. 

So I take with me out of these High Holidays, a vision of myself walking that narrow bridge with confidence and courage, knowing that although the journey can sometimes feel perilous, the whole world is there too.


One of my favorite bridges, Caratunk Wildlife Refuge

One of my favorite bridges, Caratunk Wildlife Refuge

11 Tishrei 5774