(I/Me/Us/We lacked faith,
We beg for your forgiveness.
I/Me/Us/We did not trust,
We beg for your understanding.)
I’m sorry, excuse me,
Excuse me, I’m sorry,
I am so in the way,
I don’t fit here,
This is awkward,
I am too much,
How can you even stand me?
Pardon me, I am sorry,
Please let me through,
I’m the worst.
I don’t mean to take up space,
Excuse me, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
I just keep messing up.
I stole your pen from the register and I knew I was doing it,
I sat stone-faced while you told your corny joke,
I said I was alright to drive after that glass of wine, when, truth be told, I just wanted to go home, or anywhere away from you,
I said I couldn’t find my favorite cardigan when you asked to borrow it,
I said I was coming down with something when I just didn’t feel like babysitting your snot-nosed kids,
I checked my cellphone incessantly when I got nervous during service,
I rolled my eyes behind your back,
I did not give you the benefit of the doubt,
I pretended I knew what song you were talking about when the truth was, I had no clue,
I made excuses instead of just calling you,
I was envious of your effortless, beautiful perfection,
I had your password,
I fed wooden nickels to the parking meter, gumball dispenser and washing machine,
I got high on “likes,”
I missed your birthday party because I got sick of driving in circles looking for parking,
I flirted mercilessly, alleviated my own insecurity,
I ate a non-kosher pot brownie on Shabbat,
I honestly forgot your anniversary,
I set a bad example,
When the heat was on, I ran, disappeared when you needed a hand, feared the consequences of taking a stand,
I exaggerated your accusations leveled against my integrity, cast you in a less-than-flattering light,
I borrowed money,
I was jealous of all that you had and I lacked,
I said I did my best, but I know there is better yet within this lonely bag of bones,
I tried, but not hard enough,
I gave up,
I disrespected my inner wisdom,
I lied when I said I was fine, I’m not fine,
I took your pure love for granted, mishandled your divinity,
I swept my indiscretions under the rug instead of addressing them,
I lusted and succumbed to my hunger,
I fell in love with my own woundedness,
I have transgressed in ways I am cannot even name, my shame so deep, I am unable to awaken to the full brunt of my inner wickedness.
I gave up,
I tangoed with my death wish,
I let fear win,
I hid my brightness,
I dimmed my light,
I denied my own power,
I lurked in shadows,
Acted like I didn’t matter,
Shattered my own scattershot heart,
I lacked faith,
I/Me/Us/We did not trust,
Every bonded word and precious sanctification,
Every pledged fence of restraint,
All injunctions or selfsame self-sworn oaths, declarations, consecrations,
From this Yom Kippur until next Yom Kippur lovingly comes,
I/Me/Us/We regret all of them,
All are pardoned, forgiven, exonerated, liberated.
All are cancelled, abolished, repealed, healed.
Let them all be stricken from the sacred record.
Dissolve all avowals,
Lift all soul-embargoes,
Erase each bonded word.
May the entire mosaic of children of Israel,
Including every heart-spent dissenter,
We knew not what we did.
I/Me/Us/We implore you,
Absolve us of our collective offenses,
Act in your infinite mercifulness,
Continue to forgive us
As you have done very day from Egypt
To this very moment.
I/Me/Us/We hear you,
We feel your sweet pardon fall
Like rain upon the arid desert of our
My life and death are in your hands.
I/Me/Us/We pray you bless me/us with healing.
But if I am to die,
Let my death
Absolve all the missteps, transgressions and outright sins
I/Me/Us/We have endeavored.
Undertaken willfully and before your eyes.
Mercifully allow I/Me/Us/We to enter your garden,
Hear and feel our remorse,
We acknowledge our flaws and fallen state,
We have violated and engaged in treachery,
We have stolen and slandered,
We were scandalous and wicked,
We did violence and made false accusations,
We gave dark advice, we deceived,
We have scorned and rebelled,
We were unfair and hateful,
We led others astray,
And we have strayed from your kindest guidance,
And in doing so, we were ruined and ruinous.
You have been pure justice and truth
In all that has befallen us,
We see your infinite mercy.
For every misbehavior,
For each sin we have committed,
Most High and Merciful Creator,
Atone for us,
Let I/Me/Us/We know oneness.
This poetic interaction with sacred texts for Kol Nidre was created for Open Temple’s 5777 service, with deep gratitude for Rabbi Lori Schneide Shapiro‘s vision, inspiration, and vessel creation.
Photo: “Soul” by Dr Case