I'm not Jewish, nor do I celebrate Yom Kippur in the traditional sense, but since so many of my friends are fasting and atoning for whatever they've done wrong, I thought I might join along and start asking for forgiveness in my own way.
My grandmother was the first to get the idea rolling. She has been incredibly interested in all aspects of religion for as long as I've known her (which, of course, is all my life). Recently, she sent an email asking my extended family to forgive her of wrongs she might have done us in the past or present. At first, I was concerned: why would my grandmother believe she'd done something to upset any of us? Then after a quick phone call to Illinois my father found out that she had been studying up on Yom Kippur and the day of atonement. She had wanted us all to forgive her for things she might or might not have done in order to lighten her sinful burdens.
That's when I came up with the Atonement Chart. The name is a work in progress but I decided I would do something like my grandmother did, but a little more on the crafty side.
This is what I thought up:
Take a piece of poster board and with a ruler make lines 2 inch apart from one another. Split the poster board down the middle with another line. On one side write "Sin" on the other write "Atonement". Next, list all the things in your life and what you regret on the left and ways to atone for them on the right.
Seems a bit silly, doesn't it? Well, I thought that I would use this chart to help myself become a better person. For example, I used to be a Girl Scout and recently I received their magazine in the mail. I missed volunteering and having the GS mentality of "always be prepared". There have been moments in my life when I have been significantly unprepared.
In order to go back to what I had loved, I decided to go online and look up places to volunteer close to where I live. Then I created a "Be Prepared" kit to make sure I always had what I needed.
Kaitlin's GS "Be Prepared" Kit
1 pack Neosporin
1 list of emergency phone numbers
2 bobby pins
2 safety pins
1 Luna bar (I get cranky when I don't eat, and so do the kids I sit for)
1 small water bottle
1 picture of my family
2 wet wipes or 1 mini bottle of hand sanitizer (baby wipes work, too)
1 tampon (hey, I'm 22, what'd you expect?)
What I loved about this pack is that it also reminded me of the "Earthquake Kits" we had when I went to school in Los Angeles. Each child was told to bring in a kit with canned food, space blankets and other necessities just in case an earthquake hit and our parents couldn't get to us at school. My mom always put a note inside telling me that she was coming to get me as soon as she could. That was why I thought putting a picture of my family inside my kit would be important; seeing people you love when you're in a bad situation will always boost your spirits.
I'm an avid traveler to New York City and while the city itself is awesome, it can be really, really dirty. This pack is perfect if you're going to spend the night with friends or just out taking in a play and riding the subway. The pack also works in all major US cities and abroad :-)
I cannot stress enough the importance of having extra phone numbers handy! My aunt recently had her phone die at the airport and was completely without a ride or my number, which was the one she was supposed to call. No one knew how to reach me and it was over an hour before she got me on the phone. Suppress worry and stress by keeping a small list of important numbers on you at all times.
With my kit and list of volunteering locations, I've managed to not really atone, but create a solution to a personal problem. The "Atonement Chart" was merely a device that helped me reach higher goals.
Life is not always perfect, but the trip to being the best person you can be the most rewarding.