In the Jewish religion once a year they have what is called The Day of Atonement.Now its not really one day but a culmination of ten days that ends in one day with the faithful atoning for their sins in order to start their New Year fresh.
On the final morning the members gather for three services then in the evening everyone,including the cantor,reads together a list of all the sins that the entire congregation may have committed and prayers take place for forgiveness.
After the service the faithful walk into a room where loaves of bread are waiting for them, each takes a loaf then they all go down to a river and cast their loaves into the water and watch them float away,this is a symbol of their sins being removed and forgotten so they can start a new year with a clean spirit.
I got to thinking about this idea of visually watching your sins float away in order to make a new start.
When I was Catholic and went to Confession we were required to do what they called Penance.After Confession the priest would give a series of things to pray and do that hopefully,would awaken you to the fact that what you did was wrong and help remedy the situation and make a clean start.
The Jewish people believe our lives are like scales,One side good one side bad.When we do something good we tip a little to the good side but when we do something bad we tip in that direction.Since human nature puts us in the position of good and bad it is up to us to try and keep our scales balanced.
In the old Testament,during the time of atonement,loaves of bread were not used.Instead two goats were.One had a blue ribbon placed around his neck and was sacrificed the second was sprinkled with blood from the first goat,a blue ribbon tied around his horns and then he was sent out into the desert or thrown off a cliff into the water.A sign of the faithfuls sins being taken away.
We as human being are made up of senses taste,touch,hearing,smell and sight.In the Orthodox faith during Liturgy we are introduced to all our senses as we celebrate the service.We smell and see Incense,colorful robes,we touch and kiss the icons and receive communion.We hear the priest with his bells and answer his prayers.All these things involve all of our senses because true worship requires our whole being.
In our faith we also have what is called The Sunday of Forgiveness.At the end of the service each parishioner goes up to the priest,who ask for forgiveness from us then we in turn do the same from him.This is then followed through with each person in the church ending with us forgiving each other.
I find the idea of watching your sins float away very intriguing and wish after the Sunday of Forgiveness that we in some way could do something like this.Sight is very important to most human beings if you can see something tangible then you can understand it full significance.
Maybe the next time I go to confession I will take several slices of bread with me,Later I will go down to the park in my town, to the part of the river where the currents are swiftly moving, say a prayer,then throw my bread in and watch as my sins float away.
Who knows this could be very moving and significant.
I guess thats what they mean when they talk about casting your bread upon the water...or maybe not....