This is a cross-post from my friend and colleague Rabbi Lisa Bellows. Her blog is Ayin Tova: To See the Good, and she is also participating in #BlogElul.
Rabbi Bunam, a Hasidic rebbe who lived over a century ago, taught his followers: “Our great transgression is not that we commit sins: Temptation is strong and our strength is weak. No, our transgression is that at every instant we can turn to God—and yet we do not turn.”
We always have the chance to turn to God: To God--the Eternal Power of the universe, to God-that small still voice, to God-the light buried deep within us waiting to shine forth out into the world. Elul begs us to quiet down for even just a moment and turn towards The Light. To quiet the fears, to stop the mind from racing with the to-dos, the struggles, the Thinking! Turning can come automatically when we quiet down and give ourselves a time-out from it all. Knowing that the opportunity to Turn is always available to us, reminds me of a teaching of Rabbi Kook's that I learned from my teachers Rabbi Myraim Klotz and Diane Bloomfield. Rabbi Kook taught that "the soul is always praying." He wrote:
Without stop, the soul soars and yearns for its Beloved. It is at the time of outward prayer, that the perpetual prayer of the soul reveals itself in the realm of action.
This is prayer's pleasure and joy, its glory and beauty. It is like a rose, opening its elegant petals towards the dew, facing the rays of the sun as they shine over it with the sun's light.
he "soul is always praying." When all the chatter stops and we gently quiet ourselves down we can become aware of our breath and of our own blessed existence. When we are still enough, we can hear our soul-prayers, no matter how soft her voice. The soul sings of her yearnings, joys, loves, and desires. She sings out her fears and and shares her hopes and dreams. She longs to be heard by the One who matters most. Her prayer-song may even fill us with grace, if we let it. When we are present enough to remember that our soul is praying, we might catch a glimpse of its--of our-- blessed existence. When we feel her praying, we are in connection with the divine. We are doing teshuva.