I recently had a chance to spend some time with two women who had been taken to the hospital. Both women, in their 80’s, had survived the random challenges of life; from life threatening illness to deaths of spouses and grandchildren.
I visited them as they began their recovery from the latest health challenge. We sat and spoke of the coming days of recovery and the associated challenges. Gradually, however, after we exhausted the usual pleasantries and latest medical opinion, we moved on to some reflective conversation.
These women discussed, in their own way, a philosophy of life that saw the world and their place in it, as always open to blessing and challenge. They had also arrived at the stage in their life when they knew that they did not need to prove anything to anyone; that they “owed” nothing to anyone. Life had made sure of that!
I imagine they could have been excused if they had decided that life was giving them too many challenges and their decision would be to turn inward. Not them, however. They discussed the temptation to look back on life and to focus on the “what might have been”, instead of giving thanks for the “what is”. In fact, one of these vital women looked straight into my eyes and, with tubes running out of her and monitors attached, said “I am blessed”.
What is it that makes people, of any age, see the world as exciting and open to the possible, instead of a place of regret and disillusionment? Is it genetics, or one’s family of origin? The debates over this question rage on. What the lesson for us, as the generation of the children of these women, is that there is little value in living in a land that is defined by regret. As one of them said to, it does me no good to look back and dwell on the past. I cannot change that. I can only move forward.
So, I wanted to take this lesson and wrap it in a thought that struck me in a very profound way. I must admit, I downloaded the following from a Facebook post many months ago. I was reminded of it when I spoke with these women and it may be a nice thought to propel us into the summer.
“Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets.
So, love the people who treat you right and forget about the one’s who don’t.
And believe that everything happens for a reason.
If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it!
Nobody said it would be easy; they just promised it would be worth it!”
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.