Memorial Day and, as we are told, the “unofficial” start of summer. I was always a little uncomfortable with this weekend. The program year has ended and the pace of activity within the Jewish community slows rapidly. Once Confirmation and “Shavuot” passes (June 12), things really do slow down even more, at least in North America. This is a time to take a peek back at the year. Again, time has flown by, which it seems to do with greater speed as we get older.
I came across a great line in a book I just finished. It is a wonderfully written novel based on relationships in the London of World War 2. “Everyone Brave is Forgiven”, by Chris Cleave, is about the complexity of relationships against the canvas of conflict. In a place of reflection, Cleave writes that the past leaves “the present cluttered with objects the survivors were immune to”.For some reason that line stuck out. What do we hold on to from our past? How often to we forget the people, things, contributions of people who have come before us?
Forgetting is at times, therapeutic. It is also, at times, a recipe for chaos. I think this is relevant to Boomers, many of whom are now in a stage of personal transition. Careers are ending, there are possibilities of new challenges and, at the same time, a reflection as so many of us look back on a work career. Who will remember what we did? What real impact did we have? How come, 1 year later, no one remembers that we were there? We have a choice, it seems, to look ahead and be grateful for what “was” and see in the future the possibility for new ideas, new challenges and new relationships. Our generation is filled with examples of people who embraced their new future with gratitude for what “was” as well as an excitement for what “may be”.
So, as the summer begins and we take some time to review, reflect and renew, let’s look at our tomorrows as gifts of time and opportunity.
Rabbi Richard F Address